There’s no way to ignore what UFC commentator Joe Rogan calls the “steroid epidemic” in MMA these days.
The number of high profile MMA fighters testing positive for performance enhancing drugs has resulted in a call for action among many fans.
It’s easy to see why. Implementing an out-of-competition testing protocol in recent months has resulted in failure rates around 30%. Among the athletes to test positive is the legendary pound-for-pound entrant Anderson Silva, who awaits his punishment next month.
It would seem the old “big lie” about PED testing — that those who use will never be caught consistently — is being disproved.
Some, incredibly, have responded by calling for an end to this more accurate manner of testing which has caught athletes like Silva.
These apologists describe the process of testing as damaging the sport’s image. Some even still refuse to believe that testing can be accurate, or describe it as too costly.
Among them, MMA writer Jack Slack:
Continuing to ruin their own fights and paying for the privilege. We're all adults, the UFC needs to just back down on the extra testing.
— Jack Slack (@JackSlackMMA) February 10, 2015
Today, UFC President Dana White offered a message:
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
At the UFC press event today in Las Vegas, White and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta outlined a new drug testing protocol, which will include an expansion of out of competition testing and greater penalties for offenders.
It’s short on details, including the third party agency that the UFC is said to begin working with. White also raised eyebrows by refusing to admit that he had promised, then cancelled, a comprehensive drug testing program announced last year.
But the particulars announced today are promising to anyone who hopes to clean the sport of PED’s:
- Full out-of-competition testing, which has resulted in about a 30% failure rate among UFC fighters so far, is said to begin for the roster beginning July 1.
- Increased penalties for athletes who are caught using performance enhancing drugs. Fertitta described his support for a two to four year ban that WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) is currently moving towards.
In short, the UFC said just about all the right things today. (See disclaimer above.)
“For the integrity of the sport,” Fertitta said, “for what we’re trying to do here, we needed to address this issue ASAP.”
If you’re hopeful for that integrity to be real, you’re hopeful for the “follow through” to come.