(This story appears in today’s edition of USA TODAY.)
Between them, UFC heavyweights Travis Browne and Josh Barnett have been drug-tested at least a dozen times prior to their UFC 168 fight.
“It was great,” Browne (15-1-1 MMA, 6-1-1 UFC) told USA TODAY Sports and MMAjunkie. “Nothing like waking up to a man sitting on your porch at 7 o’clock in the morning, ready to watch you pee and take blood.”
While the fighters agreed the testing wasn’t always convenient, it was a done for a good cause: to keep the fight clean. “It can be trying in terms of scheduling, but otherwise, it’s not a big deal,” Barnett (33-6 MMA, 5-1 UFC) said.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) required the fighters to undergo enhanced, out-of-competition testing in advance of Saturday’s pay-per-view event (10 p.m. ET) at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. UFC 168 represents the first time the commission has sanctioned such stringent testing in MMA.
For UFC events in Nevada, all competitors are already tested for drugs of abuse and performance-enhancers on fight night.
Some are subjected to out-of-competition testing, though not as frequently as with the enhanced program, which uses laboratories accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), a global authority in the fight against illicit drug use in amateur and professional sports.
Anti-doping advocates say out-of-competition testing remains the only way to stamp out such use.
It may not come as a surprise that at the time of their respective interviews, Barnett had been drug tested more than Browne, though not by much (Barnett received seven tests while Browne estimated between five and six.) Barnett was twice flagged for PEDs while fighting in Las Vegas — once during an exploratory round of testing in 2001 and again a year later, which resulted in him being stripped of the UFC heavyweight title. In 2009, he also failed a pre-fight drug test that scratched a bout vs. Fedor Emelianenko in the now-defunct Affliction Entertainment promotion.
Browne wasn’t thrilled that his opponent’s past was responsible for their selection as the pioneer recipients of the Nevada Commission’s enhanced testing.
“I’m a supporter of WADA and what they do, and making sure this fight is on the straight and narrow and fair,” Browne said. “I completely agree with what they’re doing.
“But just because my opponent got popped for steroids or PEDs before, I don’t feel like I should have to suffer for that. But I’m a supporter and they asked me to do it.
“I’m more than willing to.”
Barnett, who has said he now lives a clean lifestyle, might not enjoy the intrusions, either. But, like Browne, he said he is willing to prove he’s not using banned substances.
“It’s just a process,” he said. “Even if they come while I’m on the toilet, I just wave them in and tell them to turn the fan on.”
For more on UFC 168, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
(Pictured: Travis Browne)