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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
The issue of drug testing in MMA has come to the forefront in the last six months with several high profile cases highlighting a need to crack down on rampant abuse. Alistair Overeem's case in particular, along with "Rampage" Jackson's admission of TRT use earlier this year, brought many to call for more from the UFC.
For years, UFC President Dana White has touted the sport as the "most tested sport in the world," but has put the onus on the athletic commissions to take care of testing. That hasn't been enough to this point, however. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times this week, White addressed the growing problem.
"The steroid, [performance-enhancing drug] thing affects the whole sport," he said. "The key is to make sure these guys never get on it, because once they do, they change. The problem with Overeem is that I want to sit in a room with him man to man and believe him. He told me before he ever fought for us, 'Don't worry, I'm the most tested athlete in sports.' But I think we have about 42 fights a year... you have a guy or two popping [positive tests] here and there, that's a pretty good ratio."
While the UFC has tried to avoid doing more testing on their own to this point, White says that will be changing, and he revealed that the organization is working on a plan to put more testing in place.
"Yes. We're going to do our own testing," White said. "Order these guys into [a lab]; we're sorting it out now. You have to do this to save the sport. You can't have these guys fighting on this stuff."
Penick's Analysis: This is good news. There are issues to sort out as to the transparency of the UFC's drug testing, but doing more on their end to clean things up in the sport is the correct way to go about it. Random testing throughout the year for the fighters on their roster is going to be somewhat costly, and it very well could lead to a number of fights getting scrapped, but it has to be done to stop the rampant abuse of PEDs in the sport. The only other option is legalize everything and let it run wild, because right now far too many are getting away with skirting the rules. Now, what type of testing is done, how the results are announced, who hands out punishments, etc., that's all information we'll want to find out as far as the policy they put in place, but the expansion of drug testing in the UFC is smart, and the right thing to do for the organization.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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