MONTREAL – Cornered by persistent questions about drug testing in the UFC, Dana White said his current goal is to eradicate exemptions for testosterone replacement therapy.
“Then when you show up for a fight, the state athletic commissions will do their testing however they do their testing,” White said following a pre-event news conference for UFC 158, which takes place Saturday at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
The UFC president has turned a corner on TRT, earlier this year promising additional testing for athletes that want to legally use testosterone by obtaining a therapeutic use exemption. Previously, he left the issue to state athletic commissions.
“If you ask for a TRT exemption, you are going to be tested brutally,” White said.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission, whose former executive director, Marc Ratner, now works for the Las Vegas-based UFC, has to date issued six exemptions for TRT. As the number of applications have grown, the commission has enacted stricter guidelines for obtaining a TUE, which include multiple pre-fight blood and/or urine tests and requiring a signed affidavit stating an athlete has not previously used banned performance-enhancers.
Exemptions in other states largely go unreported due to disclosure laws. UFC vet Nate Marquardt, who fights on the pay-per-view main-card of UFC 158, received a temporary exemption from the New Jersey Athletic Control Board, but it was revoked when he failed a pre-fight blood test.
White said additional testing currently is underway in an effort to make sure fighters don’t use the exemption to make training camp easier.
“People who put in for a TRT exemption, we’re going to make sure that throughout your training period, you’re not jacked up to these levels here, and then bringing them back to these levels here for the fight, when get tested by the athletic commission,” he said.
But when it comes to random, out-of-competition testing, which is widely accepted as the most effective deterrent to illicit drug use, that’s where the UFC defers to regulatory bodies. Of the larger commissions, the NSAC is considered a leader in out-of-competition testing, randomly screening select fighters prior to events held in the state.
“We’re focusing on the things that we can manage,” White said, later adding that he would also test any fighter suspected of PED use.
At this point, that means making TRT an unattractive option for fighters without a legitimate medical need for it.
“This is baby steps,” White said. “I don’t just come out and say, ‘Here’s what I’d like all the athletic commissions to do across the country.’ I don’t know how many times I have to tell you guys, they don’t give a f–k what I think. They regulate me.
“It’s very easy for me to go with the flow on TRT: ‘Hey, commission says it’s fine.’ I’m against it. But there’s only so much you can do.”
For more on UFC 158, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
Matt Erickson contributed to this story from Montreal
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