USADA, UFC Make Several Significant Changes to Anti-Doping Policy

By Tristen Critchfield Feb 16, 2017
USADA and the UFC on Thursday announced several significant updates to the promotion’s anti-doping policy, which will take effect on April 1.

Perhaps most notably, an athlete who retires or leaves the promotion may not resume competing in the UFC until he or she has provided notice and has been available in the drug testing pool for a period of six months. Previously, a fighter was required to be in the pool for four months before returning to active competition.

An exemption can be granted “in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to the athlete,” as was granted to Brock Lesnar when he ended his retirement to compete at UFC 200 on July 9.

Additionally, athletes who have not previously competed in the UFC or who were previously released by the UFC must enter the drug testing pool for a period of one month before being able to compete. That one-month period can be waived if a fighter is “named to a fight card as a replacement for an athlete who was withdrawn from the fight card due to loss of eligibility, injury or other event not reasonably foreseeable to UFC.”

Meanwhile, if an athlete enters the USADA program and discloses the use of a banned substance prior to testing, then the disclosed substance will not be considered an anti-doping policy violation. However, if an athlete entering the drug testing pool has an “established and verifiable history of the use, attempted use or possession,” he or she must be available for testing for the minimum six-month period before being able to compete.

USADA has also changed the definition of “in-competition” for drug testing. Now, in-competition “means the period commencing at noon on the day prior to the scheduled start of the fight card on which a bout is contested and ending upon the completion of the post-bout sample or specimen collection.” If a sample is not collected within one hour of a fighter receiving post-fight medical clearance, “then the in-competition period shall expire at that time.”

A summary of the changes can be found here, while the full updated policy is available here.

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