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Opinion: Does Brock Lesnar’s UFC title shot make a mockery of ‘clean sport’?

As the UFC gives the still suspended Brock Lesnar a title shot at new champion Daniel Cormier, Iain Kidd asks what that says about the “clean sport” initiative.

MMA: UFC 226-Miocic vs Cormier Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

At the conclusion of UFC 226, Brock Lesnar entered the cage to set up a future fight against new two-division champ, Daniel Cormier. The only issue is, Lesnar can’t actually fight yet. He still has time left on his suspension from his UFC 200 bout against Mark Hunt.

Lesnar left the registered testing pool midway through his suspension, and per the UFC’s anti-doping policy, he still has to serve the remainder of his suspension, and/or six months in the pool due to his retirement while suspended. He only has to serve whichever of those two periods of time is longer.

We don’t know exactly how long is left on Lesnar’s suspension, because USADA refuses to confirm which athletes are part of the registered testing pool, or when they entered/left the pool. This policy would allow athletes to receive hidden exemptions from testing with no public scrutiny.

Dana White claimed Lesnar won’t be able to fight due to January due to USADA testing requirements at the post-fight press conference. USADA would only say Lesnar has started “the process to get back in the USADA drug-testing pool.” Bleacher Report’s Jeremy Botter claimed on twitter Lesnar has been in the pool, but his tests have been hidden from public view and will actually fight in November at Madison Square Garden.

Even Daniel Cormier seemed uneasy with the situation, saying in the post-fight press conference that he wanted additional, independent (non-USADA) testing of Lesnar between now and their fight.

Whenever this contest happens, the message it sends is not a good one. The UFC’s anti-doping partner, USADA, constantly talks about “clean sport” and how the program is there to benefit clean athletes. Now, clean athletes get to watch a fighter fail a drug test, not bother serving out his full suspension, and be rewarded with a title shot against a man who hasn’t even defended his belt yet.

The UFC might as well put up a big neon sign saying, “We don’t care if you take PEDs, as long as you make us money.” That’s been the assumption of many for years, but it’s rare for the UFC to be so blatant about it.

What has to be concerning for anti-doping advocates is how most fans only seem interested in compelling match-ups and aren’t bothered at all if one guy is on performance enhancing drugs at the time. USADA should be more concerned with how the UFC appears to share the same sentiment.

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