One thing the relationship between USADA and the UFC was supposed to do was level the playing field. If all fighters followed the guidelines of the USADA drug testing program, they would all seem to have the same chance of getting randomly drug tested throughout the year. However, with Conor McGregor undergoing exactly zero USADA drug tests in 2022 and only one since the third quarter of 2021, some questions arise.
The first, and most obvious question, is McGregor in the USADA drug testing pool?
USADA, understandably, punted on that question, deferring to the UFC when asked about McGregor’s status in the drug testing program it administers for the fight promotion. Neither the UFC nor McGregor’s management replied to questions about if the former two-division UFC champion is — or isn’t — in the USADA pool.
That leads to the question, if McGregor is in the USADA testing pool, is he getting special treatment from the UFC? Because let’s not forget, UFC president Dana White has said of McGregor, “Conor McGregor has been that guy since the day that he walked into this f–kin’ company. So for anybody to point the finger and say, ‘Oh, this guy’s getting special treatment…’ (Because) This guy’s special. This guy’s f–kin’ special.”
If he is in the testing pool, he is currently the only UFC fighter who has not been tested in 2022.
If McGregor is out of the testing pool, then the UFC needs to address why he is still in the rankings as an active fighter. Because if McGregor has notified USADA of his retirement or that he is going on hiatus, then he should’ve been removed from the rankings like the other fighters that went through that process. McGregor will also have to notify USADA and UFC of any intent to return to action and then undergo a period of at least six months of being subject to testing before he can fight again. If that is the case, an active UFC fighter should have his spot in the rankings instead.
Conversely, I understand why the UFC would not remove McGregor from the rankings if he is not in the USADA pool. Having him ranked seems to indicate he will fight at some point. With his name there, the UFC gives the impression that on any given day we could get a Conor McGregor fight announcement.
Let me be clear — I don’t care if McGregor is or isn’t using PED’s. That’s not what any of this is about. What it’s about is transparency and fairness, and right now the UFC is not providing either of those things to its fans or its active fighters. To make this a question of drug use (or no drug use) muddies the water and moves the focus away from where it should be: on the UFC.
The right thing to do for the UFC is to address McGregor’s testing status. If he’s out of the pool, great, then drop him from the rankings and let the lightweight division have an active fighter in the top-15. But, on the other hand, if McGregor is in the testing pool, then the UFC needs to explain why he is the sole fighter to not have been subjected to a USADA drug test since the third quarter of 2021.