The UFC has responded to the statement released by USADA CEO Travis Tygart surrounding the fight promotion’s decision to move on from the anti-doping administrators, claiming the comments made were designed as a “self-preservation” tactic as a result of losing a valued client.
A UFC press conference was held in Las Vegas as the UFC’s executive vice president and chief business officer Hunter Campbell, and senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky, responded to the statement released by USADA on Wednesday slamming the UFC and announcing the split between the two parties, with USADA CEO Travis Tygart claiming the UFC had made an “about face” and stated that “the relationship between USADA and UFC became untenable given the statements made by UFC leaders and others questioning USADA’s principled stance that (Conor) McGregor not be allowed to fight without being in the testing pool for at least six months.”
Those statements were strongly refuted by both Campbell and Novitzky, in a 90-minute session that saw them lay out in detail their reasons for opting to switch anti-doping administrators, and criticized the language used by Tygart to announce the imminent end to their partnership with USADA.
Campbell stated that the UFC had made clear to USADA that McGregor would not fight until he had been in the testing pool for at least six months, and accused Tygart of using the Irishman’s star power to gain press coverage and additional reach for his statement.
“Disappointingly, they used Conor McGregor as a vehicle to sort of articulate and reframe a complete misrepresentation of what occurred over the last several months,” Campbell stated.
“What I can categorically tell you is, what USADA has put out in the last 48 hours could not be farther from the truth.”
Tygart’s statement suggested that the UFC wanted McGregor to be able to fight before the stated six-month period in the testing pool had ended. But that was strongly refuted by Campbell. So much so, that he revealed that a legal letter had been sent to USADA demanding a retraction and an apology.
“What I don’t want to do today is I’m not going to do what I feel like he’s done for the last 24-48 hours,” said Campbell.
“Jeff and I have always approached this program, and everybody involved in it, with a level of class and dignity, and frankly, professionalism that I don’t think has been exhibited.
“And listen, I know Travis has a board. And I know we make up I think roughly 25-30 percent of his total revenue. And so I can tell you, I understand from a business perspective, why he may be acting the way he’s acting, and he’s gonna have to answer to a board and people and, you know, Jeff, and I were talking, you know, horse racing, who was all but encouraged strongly from Congress to get a deal done with USADA, wasn’t able to do so in the last, I think, 18 months, and they went with a company called Drug Free Sport, which is an entity that we’re going to move to, as well.
“So I think there’s a lot going on there. And I think that explains sort of the reaction that he’s taking publicly. And I think it’s a self-preservation tactic – I think it will ultimately fail. But that’s for him to deal with, and I really don’t want to get into that.”
Campbell also paid tribute to the strides the UFC and USADA had made in partnership to develop their current anti-doping policy, then stated the UFC’s position on McGregor’s situation, saying that the former two-division champion would not fight until he had spent six months in the testing pool, and stating that the UFC had made that position clear to USADA on multiple occasions.
“What I can say is, I’m grateful for the work that we’ve done with them. I appreciate what they’ve done for us, and we wouldn’t be able to be in the position we’re at today without their help and assistance. And frankly, up until the last, I would call it, two or three years, the relationship really was a productive and incredibly beneficial relationship for all parties.
“And I kind of want to end on that note, and whatever he’s going to continue to say he can say, I know today I was told after I think they received our letter last night he’s already backtracked, and he’s now confirmed that at no point in time, did Jeff, myself or any other UFC representative, Dana, not a single person, ever went to USADA and told them anything other than Conor McGregor would reenter the program when he was healthy, and in doing so, we would require him to be in the program for six months. There would be no exception to the rule. And I what I said to Travis on multiple occasions, including the call on Monday, was there would never be a situation where Conor would fight until he had been in the program for six months. And my words were, ‘I don’t give a s**t if he has 37 clean tests.’
“This was one of those cases where Conor was the most tested athlete in the UFC, before he catastrophically shattered his leg. The conversations I had with Conor and his physician when that occurred had nothing to do with fighting, they were legitimately concerned that he wasn’t going to regain full use of his leg ever again, including the ligaments around it.
“And I’ll say one last time, what they’ve done to him is disgusting. And for an entity that holds themselves out to have a level of honor and integrity, using him as a media vehicle to advance a fake narrative, is disturbing, disgusting, and I think they have some legitimate legal liability that they should be very concerned with.”