UFC Exec: 30-40 Percent More USADA Tests in 2019

In the wake of a new drug testing controversy surrounding Jon Jones, which Jeff Novitzky — the UFC’s vice president of athlete health and performance — explained the situation on a recent Joe Rogan Experience appearance, the UFC and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) are upping the ante on its athletes.

During the podcast episode, Novitzky stated that the UFC and USADA have agreed on a new deal that will see “30 to 40 percent” more tests conducted on its fighters.

Novitzky, in fact, used Jones’ run-in with USADA as an example as to why the new deal has been reached. According to Novitzky, Jones was the most, if not one of the most, tested athletes over the last six months.

“One thing that obviously protected him here was that volume of testing, and so USADA came to us and said, ‘Hey, we think that you probably should up the amount of tests that you’re doing,'” Novitzky said. “So we just renewed a contract with USADA and we’re increasing our testing numbers by 30 to 40 percent. The first three years of the program, we were under contract for approximately 2,700 tests, and starting this next year, we’re going to up that to around 4,300 or 4,400 tests. So I think it’s going to be more of a burden.

There’s going to be USADA showing up on more doorsteps early in the morning for more of our athletes, but I think this is a perfect example that the increased volume of testing actually can be a protectant to the athlete, especially when you’re talking these low level picogram quantities and contaminated cases, and things like that.

Jones was not granted the ability to fight by the Nevada State Athletic Commission due to testing positive for picograms of Turinabol in three USADA tests conducted over the last five months. According to USADA, the failed tests are simply residual effects of a Sept. 2017 failed test that saw Jones test positive for the same substance, which supposedly has no performance-enhancing benefits. Nonetheless, that 2017 failed test saw a UFC 214 win for Jones overturned to a No Contest, forcing the UFC Light Heavyweight Title off him once more.

The NSAC not allowing Jones to compete saw the UFC move UFC 232 to California, where Jones is licensed to compete, on six days’ notice. While Jones can compete at the UFC event, he must meet with the NSAC in January.

Novitzky is looking to ensure that in the new deal with USADA, cases likes Jones’ are treated differently.

“Interestingly enough, the World Anti-Doping Agency or WADA, their next code revision is 2021, and so they regularly put out, ‘Hey, what are the issues going forward that we want to address?'” Novitzky said. “And one of the major issues is potentially establishing thresholds for these low-level substances that keep appearing — THC being one of them, Ostarine being one of them. And so the idea that WADA is looking at and has a working group of worldwide experts [researching] is, hey, if something gets reported back at under 50 picograms, all the evidence is showing more likely than not this is from a very low-level contaminant issue. We’ve never seen an issue of a micro-dosing or an intentional use that’s reached that level. Why are the labs even reporting at quantities lower than 50 picograms or 100 picograms?

“I think very soon they’re going to come out with a recommendation. We are going to adopt that before 2021. Once that working group — and we’re in communication with them — comes up with those recommendations, you’ll see them implemented first in the UFC program. Again, I’ve also said, fairness and due process in a program is just as important as the strength and comprehensiveness of that program. You might lose faith [from] your athletes. You could have the strongest, loophole-free program in the world, but if you start implementing things unfairly, you’ll lose faith just as much as if you had a bunch of loopholes in the program. It’s got to be fair.”

The entire appearance of Novitzky on The Joe Rogan Experience can be viewed in the video player above.

Original Story: MMA Fighting

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