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USADA introduces pilot phase of oral fluid testing for UFC fighters

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According to USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping program is being upgraded with the introduction of oral fluid testing.

UFC Senior VP of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky recently confirmed that the UFC’s anti-doping program, administered by USADA, will be introducing a new testing method.

In a comprehensive statement made on December 12th USADA addressed the implementation of oral fluid testing. The statement included an information guide about the new method, which included the following details:

What is oral fluid testing?

The collection and analysis of oral fluid, or saliva, has advanced as a drug testing method in recent years. Oral fluid testing allows for non-invasive collections that are easy to observe and limit the potential for tampering.

USADA claimed there are no known negative side effects of this testing. Their statement listed several supposed benefits to this form of testing:

What are the benefits of this new testing method?

Oral fluid testing comes with numerous potential benefits, including:

A pain-free and non-invasive collection experience for athletes.

Eliminates the need for gender-specific collection personnel.

Samples can be easily and quickly collected in a wide range of environments.

A major benefit of oral fluid testing is that it has the potential to detect in-competition prohibited substances, such as stimulants or cannabinoids, very close to their use and/or exposure. Accordingly, this may minimize the potential scenario where a substance prohibited in-competition only, that was used out-of-competition, would be detected during an in-competition test.

With oral fluid testing USADA will attempt to eliminate failed results from substances that are prohibited in-competition, but were ingested during an out-of-competition phase. However, the testing will still run in conjunction with pre-existing urine and blood collection methodology to deliver an enhanced view of the athlete.

The newly announced testing is currently in its pilot phase. Only upon confirmation of accuracy and effectiveness will this be implemented with full ramifications in effect. Fighters will not be privy to results arising from oral fluid collection during the pilot phase.