If you thought there were already a lot of UFC fighters testing positive for banned substances, there's a chance we get much more of those soon. Despite the number of flagged cases, things are only getting started according to Jeff Novitzky as the UFC's anti-doping program has only just been fully implemented last month.
The UFC VP of athlete health and performance tells MMA Fighting that they are planning on increasing the number of tests this quarter.
In Q3 of 2015, when the USADA program was first started, there were 81 tests conducted on 50 UFC fighters. Q4, it increased to 272 tests on 131 fighters. This year, Q1 saw 450 tests on 286 fighters, and Q2 had 535 tests on 326 athletes.
The USADA website currently lists 161 tests on 141 athletes, just one month and 3 days into this current quarter. Novitzky says that Q3 figures to end up with around 700 tests.
"I'm amazed the progress that we've had getting this off the ground. This will be the first quarter — the third quarter of 2016 — where we have a fully implemented program."
Several high profile cases have come up from the USADA policy, with both UFC 200 stars Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar failing tests. Novitzky says while he prefers that it didn't happen, those very public cases could help with the cause.
"I never want to see that happen. I don't take any pleasure that the program is working, seeing that happen. Sometimes one or two of those needs to happen for everybody to open their eyes. If anybody had any reservations about the seriousness, about the independence of the program, that it doesn't matter if you're the first on the depth chart of the roster or the last you're going to be treated the same under this program."
"A perfectly successful program is where the deterrent is on the front end and they realize how comprehensive it is and they realize what the penalty is going to be if they test positive and say, I'm gonna make the decision not to dope on the front end rather than catching them on the back end," Novitzky said. "But the reality is sometimes it takes a few of those hard lessons to happen for everybody to get the message that this is real and this isn't on paper or a theory."