Lorenzo Fertitta says the UFC will continue to improve drug testing. | Photo: Sherdog.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship has made noticeable progress with its drug testing program in recent months.
In 2014 alone, a number of the Las Vegas-based promotion’s athletes --including big-ticket stars such as Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen and Cung Le -- have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Meanwhile, another star, Wanderlei Silva, received a lifetime ban from the Nevada Athletic Commission for fleeing a random drug test.
UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta believes his company is doing a good job of adopting the appropriate measures to clean up the sport.
“Actually, it’s becoming less of a problem because we have really stepped up our game as far as testing,” Fertitta said in an interview on UFC Tonight. “For these athletes, there’s nowhere to hide.”
It has been a gradual process, Fertitta explained, one that has evolved from the days when not every fighter on a card was guaranteed to be tested.
“The first step was working with the various athletic commissions to make sure we had testing for the night of the fight for every fighter on the card. Whereas it used to be years ago, it was more of a random basis. They would test the main event and maybe some of the other fighters,” he said. “We said, ‘You know what: We’ll pay for it. You test everybody on the card.’
“And then, as some of these performance enhancing drugs started to evolve and get better, it was harder to test for some of those drugs because they were out of your system apparently quickly. So we started to implement random testing working with the Nevada State Athletic Commission and funding that testing protocol.”
According to Fertitta, the UFC is far from finished when it comes to improving its drug testing program. In fact, the most ambitious part of the plan is still in the works.
Now, the next step for us and what we’re working on, is a complete project where we will random test all 500 of our athletes multiple times per year,” Fertitta said. “We’re working on that. It’s gonna be a comprehensive plan. At the end of the day, if you’re cheating, we will catch you. You will get suspended, possibly fined. We take it very serious because at the end of the day, our fans want to make sure our sport’s clean, and I think the athletes want the sport clean. The clean athletes want the sport to be clean, right?”
Fertitta did not elaborate on when the promotion hopes to fully implement comprehensive random testing for the entire roster.