UFC planning to fix their PED issue ‘head on’

Anderson Silva tested positive for PEDs following his bout with Nick Diaz at UFC 183 (Photo: Instagram)

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By Kyle Hutchison

Anderson Silva, arguably the greatest fighter in MMA history, tested positive a second time for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) following his bout with Nick Diaz at UFC 183. The first test came before he defeated Diaz, but the second positive came soon after the contest.

After one of the premier fighters tested positive for PEDs, Hector Lombard, a top contender for the welterweight division, also tested positive for PEDs. The UFC brass had enough with these positive tests and held a press conference February 18th to discuss their changes to the drug testing policies.

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta opened the press conference by stating “We are making it a point towards fixing this PED issue head on.”

He continued on the PED issue before giving the floor to UFC president Dana White.

White commented on specific issues concerning the current testing policies and fighters’ positive tests. Specifically, White clarified the reasons Silva wasn’t pulled from UFC 183 after failing his pre-fight drug test:

“The Nevada state athletic commission didn’t get that test back until Tuesday February 3rd and we found out that morning,” said White.

Fertitta then delved into the statistics from the current testing policy before presenting their new proposed policy. The statistics showed that 26.3% of the fighters tested out-of-competition (without a scheduled fight) came back positive for PEDs; while 1.3% of the 900 fighters tested in-competition (with a fight scheduled) came back positive for PEDs.

The UFC spent around $500,000 last year for drug testing. In 2015, and moving forward the UFC plans to spend millions of dollars on more comprehensive testing of their fighters. A specific figure was never given during the press conference.

The new plan being pushed by the UFC will be implemented July 1st, 2015 and includes 100% in-competition testing, random testing for out-of-competition fighters and 100% enhanced drug tests (more comprehensive and in depth testing) for 100% of main event and championship bout fighters. Penalties for first time offenders will result in either a two or four year ban depending on whether or not the athletic commissions will agree to the ban.

The UFC’s main struggle with implementing this new policy will be dealing with the respective athletic commissions to validate and accept their suspensions. Executive vice president Lawrence Epstein stated that the UFC has been in discussions with many athletic commissions, but since they have to deal with so many across the globe, they’re skeptical they can have a deal done by July 1st with all of them.

When asked how the UFC drug testing policy would compare to baseball’s policy UFC president Dana White responded “We’re going to move a lot faster than baseball did. They’re hitting a ball with a stick, who cares? You have two human beings going to compete in combat sports and if one is using performance enhancing drugs? It’s incredibly dangerous. I hate it. I hate everything about it. If you can’t compete in this sport with your natural abilities, you don’t belong here.”

In related news, Silva is reportedly set to admit to “therapeutic use” of PEDs in the coming days.

Kyle Hutchison can be reached at khutch@udel.edu

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