The UFC’s contracted administrators of their anti-doping policy, USADA, have announced that the partnership between the two organizations will come to an end at the end of 2023.
In a statement released via their website, USADA CEO Travis Tygart announced that Conor McGregor had re-entered the USADA testing pool, but went on to drop the bombshell news that the relationship between USADA and the UFC had become what Tygart described as “untenable.”
Here is Tygart’s statement, in full:
“We can confirm that Conor McGregor has re-entered the USADA testing pool as of Sunday, October 8, 2023. We have been clear and firm with the UFC that there should be no exception given by the UFC for McGregor to fight until he has returned two negative tests and been in the pool for at least six months. The rules also allow USADA to keep someone in the testing pool longer before competing based on their declarations upon entry in the pool and testing results.
“Unfortunately, we do not currently know whether the UFC will ultimately honor the six-month or longer requirement because, as of January 1, 2024, USADA will no longer be involved with the UFC Anti-Doping Program. Despite a positive and productive meeting about a contract renewal in May 2023, the UFC did an about-face and informed USADA on Monday, October 9, that it was going in a different direction.
“We are disappointed for UFC athletes, who are independent contractors who rely on our independent, gold-standard global program to protect their rights to a clean, safe, and fair Octagon. The UFC’s move imperils the immense progress made within the sport under USADA’s leadership.
“The relationship between USADA and UFC became untenable given the statements made by UFC leaders and others questioning USADA’s principled stance that McGregor not be allowed to fight without being in the testing pool for at least six months. One UFC commentator echoed this, recently declaring that USADA should not oversee the UFC program since we held firm to the six-month rule involving McGregor, and since we do not allow fighters without an approved medical basis to use performance-enhancing drugs like experimental, unapproved peptides or testosterone for healing or injuries simply to get back in the Octagon.
“Fighters’ long-term health and safety — in addition to a fair and level playing field — are more important to USADA than short-term profits at the expense of clean athletes. USADA is proud of the work we’ve done over the past eight years to clean up the UFC, and we will continue to provide our unparalleled service to UFC athletes through the remainder of our current contract, which ends December 31, 2023. As always, we will continue to uphold the rights and voices of clean athletes in all sport.”
The news means that USADA will no longer oversee the UFC’s anti-doping policy from the start of 2024 onward. Currently, there is no official news of what the UFC plans to do to replace USADA moving forward, though UFC commentator Brendan Fitzgerald did suggest that plans were already in place.
Posting to X (formally Twitter), Fitzgerald initially stated that “USADA just lost a big client and a lot of money, so they’re a bit salty. UFC drug program remains in place… just not paying a middle man.”
His comment drew hundreds of replies and several questions, with Fitzgerald replying to one poster to offer a little more information.
“USADA claiming they broke up with UFC is not fact. It would absolutely have been tenable if we would continue paying them. They’re in the spin zone. The UFC is simply going with the plan they already have been putting in place, which will still involve an anti-doping program… just not theirs.”
He also posted a tweet to highlight that the other major US sports leagues all have anti-doping programs, and none of them are with USADA.
“USADA loved having UFC as a brand name client… because none of the other major leagues use them,” he posted.
“So… we’re doing what the NFL, NHL, MLB and others already have…”