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UFC renews USADA contract, expects to conduct up to 4,400 drug tests in 2019

The UFC’s renewed contract with USADA brings about major changes.

Since USADA’s partnership with the UFC began in 2015, the landscape of the game has changed dramatically. For one, the number of PED-related issues have significantly doubled, affecting fighters like Lyoto Machida and Chad Mendes, both of whom had no record of drug test failures in the past.

In light of the most recent controversy involving Jon Jones, the UFC announced its renewed contract with USADA. UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky bared more details in a recent appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience MMA Show.

“USADA came to us and said, ‘hey, we think you should up the amount of testing that you are doing,’” Novitzy said (transcript by “So, we just renewed the contract with USADA and we are increasing our testing numbers between 30 to 40 percent. Currently, the first three years of the program under contract were approximately 700 tests and starting this next year we are going to up that to around 4300-4400 tests.

“It’s going to be more of a burden, there is going to be USADA showing up at more doorsteps early in the morning for more of our athletes but I think this is a perfect example that that increased volume in the testing can actually be a protection to the athlete.”

According to Novitzky, the constant tests throughout a year may have been the reason why Jones was given clearance to fight, despite rendering a positive drug test for trace amounts of Turinabol.

“One thing that obviously protected Jon a lot, in this case, was the frequency of testing,” he explained. “If you look at his numbers, these were instances that they collected samples but in many of these cases, they did multiple tests on him.

“In reality, Jon was one of the most tested, if not the most tested athlete over these last six months when you look at the total amount of tests. One thing that protected him was that volume of testing.”

The recent Jones debacle had forced the UFC to move UFC 232 from Las Vegas, Nevada to The Forum in Inglewood, California in just a week’s notice. The card will take place as originally planned, on Saturday, December 29th.