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Testing is ‘an essential part of a fair fight’ - USADA issues statement on UFC anti-doping program

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With the UFC looking to return to a full events calendar for the second half of 2020, the USADA drug testing organization is adamant that they’ll keep up with their mission to watch over the promotion’s fighters.

UFC Launches Anti-Doping Policy

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that the UFC’s anti-doping partner, USADA, was going to have to adapt. The organization announced a cutback on the number of tests they would be performing across all sports, focusing instead on “mission-critical testing of athletes in sports still competing.”

To go with that move, the organization also appears to have halted the updating of their current testing numbers, so as to “ensure the testing process remains a viable deterrent.” Basically, if people knew how little testing they were actually doing, they might start cheating.

Still, with the UFC now preparing to launch back into their 2020 event calendar – starting with three events in one week, in Jacksonville, FL – USADA has made it clear that they will still be a strong part of the MMA promotion’s regulatory process. The drug testing agency released a statement to MMA Fighting, broadcasting that they will still be screening athletes for upcoming UFC cards.

“As we’ve stated, testing at UFC events is an essential part of a fair fight,” USADA officials said in a statement to MMA Fighting on Friday. “We will have doping control officers at UFC 249, and will do everything in our power to conduct testing at future events, of course taking appropriate precautions to protect the health and safety of everyone involved.”

The whole process may add an extra potential risk for coronavirus transmission between fighters and staff. However as more of the United States starts to look at easing quarantine restrictions, it seems clear that those increased risks are something many are willing to take.

UFC 249 is set to take place on May 9th, at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville. An interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje is set for the main event. Cards planned for May 13th and May 16th in the same location are expected to be headlined by Anthony Smith vs. Glover Teixeira and Alistair Overeem vs. Walt Harris, respectively.