UFC New Drug Testing Policy is a Step in the Right Direction
In news that seemed to fly under the radar, the UFC has announced a brand new drug testing policy that is among the toughest in sports.
The UFC and USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) have joined together in an effort to toughen the use of drugs in the octagon. Under the new policy, the UFC handed over all testing to the USADA. This essentially wipes the UFC's hands clean of drug testing and puts all of it into the hands of the USADA.
UFC athletes are not unionized and are independent contractors with the organization. Essentially, the athletes have no say over the new policies that are in place.
In the agreement, the UFC has essentially handed over all testing to the USADA. They will conduct a minimum of 2,750 tests on UFC athletes over the year, according to Yahoo! Sports. That means that fighters will be tested approximately 5-6 times a year.
Under the new policy, a first time offender would receive a two year suspension. Anything on top of that would essentially kill a person's career, as the time would double. Yahoo! also reports that "on-street drugs" are allowed out of competition but not in competition.
The penalties are stiffer, and the amount of tests are much more than they use to be, but this is a step in the right direction. For the UFC to hand over the policy to another entity, it alleviates the pressure off of them and onto another party. The company doesn't have to determine suspensions within the guidelines of the athletic commission they are working with. The USADA will now conduct all of that with the commissions, and work also with a set of standards.
This will also keep fighters more accountable. We've seen in the past some fighters fail drug tests, and continued to fight as scheduled (looking at you Anderson Silva/Nick Diaz). Now when I order a pay-per-view for $54.99, I shouldn't have to worry about the fight I watched being officially declared a "no contest" after the event.
A two year suspension for a first time offense is enough to drastically impact a fighters career. Because of this, the sport (which is clean outside of a few individuals who have failed test) will be even more clean. Fighters under the new deal will also be given pointers when it comes to health.
The new drug policy is a win-win for the organization and for fans. With stricter rules, and fighters being more accountable, the UFC can continue to grow in the world of mainstream sports.