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McGregor rule? USADA changes protocols for re-entering testing pool after McGregor and Dillashaw’s exits

In a recent statement released by USADA, unretiring fighters will have to jump through extra hoops to get back into testing pool.

Conor McGregor court case Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images

Conor McGregor has left the USADA testing pool, leading to controversies — and what looked like admission of using banned substances to “heal” — ahead of a planned 2023 return.

Former UFC champion T.J. Dillashaw seemingly tried to follow suit in what some have called “the McGregor loophole,” as he has notified the organization of his retirement and left the USADA testing pool ahead of a long recovery from shoulder surgery. The 36-year-old was also removed from the rankings.

But as we’ve seen across combat sports, such retirements – especially involving fighters who aren’t as aged for the sport – are usually short-lived. Not many believed Dillashaw’s retirement announcement, especially with his history of PED use, and USADA may be on the same boat.

If Dillashaw does decide to return, he will now need to jump through a few more hoops.

TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter recently posted a statement from the agency, which announced that fighters will have to go through more testing protocols, on top of the existing six-month requirement before they can get back into the pool.

“Given that the UFC has commented, USADA can confirm that we received notice of Dillashaw’s retirement, and he is no longer enrolled in our testing pool,” the statement begins.

“In the event of an athlete’s return to the UFC from retirement, they are required to remain in the USADA testing pool for six months before they are permitted to compete.

“The UFC may grant exemption to the six-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would manifestly (be) unfair to the athlete, but in both cases, the athlete must provide at least two negative samples before returning to competition.

“Upon being added to the UFC Anti-Doping Program, athletes are also required to declare prohibited substances they have used in the previous 12 months, prior to being in USADA’s testing program.

“An athlete who makes such a declaration, depending on the substance, will be required to refrain from competition for a period of at least six months and provide at least two negative samples to ensure that they do not compete in a UFC bout with a performance advantage.”

McGregor also tweeted this, likely about the topic:

Dillashaw tested positive for EPO in 2019 after his unsuccessful flyweight debut and was subsequently suspended for two years. He last saw action at UFC 280 in a bid to reclaim the bantamweight title against reigning champion Aljamain Sterling. Dillashaw controversially fought injured, losing via second-round TKO and technically retiring with a record of 17-5.