Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is fully ready to move on from United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
USADA CEO, Travis Tygart, released a statement yesterday (Weds., Oct. 12, 2023), revealing that the company’s partnership with UFC will end at the start of 2024. Amongst the statement were various claims about former UFC Featherweight and Lightweight champion, Conor McGregor, as a key factor for the split thanks to his absence from the USADA testing pool and desire to re-enter without undergoing the required six months of testing. The whole thing was pure “scumbagism,” according to UFC President, Dana White.
UFC CBO, Hunter Campbell, and Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novitzky, addressed the media today (Thurs., Oct. 12, 2023) regarding the future of anti-doping in the company. The following notes were provided by TSN’s Aaron Bronsteter and can be seen in full here.
- The UFC will be partnering with Drug Free Sport International (DFSI) in the future (Novitzky says that Drug Free Sports International will be tasked with sample collection, as they have been for the NBA, NFL, NHL, WNBA, NASCAR, and many other pro sports leagues.)
- Campbell says that what USADA has done to Conor McGregor is disgusting and that they may be legally liable for it.
- Campbell says that USADA CEO, Travis Tygart, “lost his mind” on the phone call that they had on Monday after he was told that the UFC was going in a different direction.
- Campbell says that testing will continue through the end of the year and that in the new year, they will launch a new program.
- Campbell says that the way USADA has treated McGregor is different from how they have treated any other athlete in the past. (DFSI will be better than USADA)
- Novitzky says that he will never be involved in a program that isn’t the gold, and now platinum, standard. Novitzky says that he has dedicated his life to anti-doping, even at the risk of his family. Calls USADA’s narrative yesterday “garbage” and “trash.” He says that it has done damage to the emphasis that the UFC has put on anti-doping.
- Novitzky says that the athlete experience under USADA has not been popular due to the burden that it has put on them. He says that the UFC’s internal team has been hard at work to give the athletes better technology when it comes to whereabouts reporting.
- Novitzky says that Dr. Dan Eichner, who runs the SMRTL lab, which has the highest accreditation in anti-doping, will run the UFC’s laboratory analysis and the science.
- Novitzky says that the independent administrator running the UFC’s next anti-doping program is George Piro. George Piro was a special agent in charge at the FBI’s Miami Field Office, was the Team Leader of the Saddam Hussein Interrogation Team in 2004. Novitzky says that Piro will make EVERY decision in the program and that the authority will be his and his alone. Novitzky says that he will be surrounded by many expects, including the aforementioned Dr. Eichner.
- Campbell says that USADA’s response to the McGregor situation has proven that they run like a dictatorship. He says that they have tried to impose their will on the UFC and that McGregor, as an independent contractor, isn’t the type of athlete that they are used to dealing with.
- Campbell says that he assured Tygart that McGregor wasn’t fighting in December after McGregor proclaimed that he was. Campbell says that there was NEVER going to be an exception made for McGregor where he wouldn’t be in the program for six months prior to competing.
- Campbell believes that USADA have used McGregor as a vehicle to advance a false narrative and calls it “incredibly unethical.”
- Campbell says that he believes the press release that USADA sent yesterday was rooted in “ego and fear.” Campbell says that when he spoke to Tygart on Monday, he was extremely calm, while Tygart became unhinged. Calls Tygart an individual who’s “dealing with a lot of s—t.”
- Campbell says that Piro will serve as the adjudicating body for the athletes. Drug Free Sport will send the samples to the SMRTL lab, results will go to Piro after they are analyzed and the athlete will explain and it will go to an arbitration program (MacLaren is mentioned)
- Campbell says that he thanked Tygart for the partnership and offered to work with them on a communication plan to show their appreciation for their work together, but that he couldn’t get a word in because Tygart was so angry.
- Novitzky says that Piro will not be waking up athletes in the middle of the night before they are going to be competing and that collectors will not be getting samples prior to going to weigh-ins or other times that will impact their upcoming bouts.
Campbell and Novitzky demanded USADA rescind yesterday’s statement by 5:00 PM PST during their time on stage. USADA and Tygart have since responded by saying, “We stand by our statement and our credibility,” per Bronsteter.