In an article titled Fighting-Anti-Doping chiefs say UFC must get serious, the global news agency Reuters reported that:
"The Ultimate Fighting Championship claims to have the toughest drug-testing in North American sport but doping officials disagree and have challenged them to get serious about ensuring their sport is clean."
However, it is implied throughout the article that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport (CCES), and the USADA do not believe the UFC testing to be effective. USADA Chief Executive Officer Travis Tygart stated their testing is "woefully inadequate," going on to say:
"They want, for public relation and marketing reasons, to say they have something that makes them look better than they truly are.
"Why don't they have better rules to give athletes and sports fans comfort that there is not a rampant culture of cheating with dangerous drugs going on in their sport?
"They're trying to pull a fast one here."
Of course both UFC director of Canadian operations Tom Wright and UFC president Dana White counter these statements with comments of their own. Wright indicated that they will follow WADA's testing guidelines at UFC 129, while White stated "The government oversees what we do and the government comes in and drug tests these guys" leaving the impression that it is government controlled.
Yet, according to the Reuters piece, most of the UFC bouts are conducted in the United States where testing is actually left up to the individual state athletic commissions themselves. And it is to this testing by the state (and provincial) commissions that Tygart's statements of inadequacy are placed. This is in addition to his implication that lawyers representing mixed martial arts are against bolstering performance-enhancement testing using blood tests.
"Not only are they not WADA Code compliant they have fought tooth and nail not to have any principles of the WADA Code. It's a joke that they claim they are trying to protect their sport with WADA policies."
So what are sports fans of MMA to take from all of this?
If past experience tells us anything, I would certainly lean toward the need for more stringent rules and testing, that is if you want to keep the sport clean--or should I say make it clean. You see, I have it on pretty good authority that it is not, clean that is. And that illegal performance-enhancement, especially at the upper levels of MMA, is, shall we say, extensive.
But, you don't need to have some "inside" information to figure that out. It is likely, maybe even probable, that in any popular sport where real $$$ are involved, illegal performance-enhancement practices are part of the regimen.
As far as I am concerned, if the UFC wants to truly "get serious" about doping in their sport, they will not only willingly accept help from WADA, CCES, and USADA, and the full testing standards that come with that help, but will seek it out. In addition, and most importantly, they will also require mandatory random testing of every MMA athlete in contention, or climbing the ladder of contention, for top honors. To be serious, you must remove any possibility of athletes being able to hide any use or abuse.
However, that is if the UFC really, truly does want to make a difference. The question is, do they???