UFC unveils PED testing program, takes weed off banned list

The UFC is gearing up to launch its revamped PED testing program soon on December 31, 2023. In the meantime, the company has provided further details about the program.

After the publicized separation from USADA, D*ug Free Sport will take charge of sample collection from UFC combatants. This agency also works in collaboration with Major League Baseball and the NFL. Subsequently, the WADA-accredited Sports Medicine and Research Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) in Salt Lake City, Utah, will conduct the testing on the submitted samples.

Head of Combat Sports AD (CSAD) George Piro will oversee the program’s administration and sanctions. Piro is a former FBI agent known for having been Saddam Hussein’s lead interrogator before his execution in Iraq.

A significant alteration includes the removal of weed from the prohibited list. It is now legal in certain states and Canada.

The statement read: “The criteria for prohibited s**stances will be modeled after WADA’s In and Out of Competition programs with modifications based on historical findings (i.e. m**ijuana removed from the prohibited list).”

“In addition, Decision Concentration Limits (thresholds) will be established that allow the program to differentiate between intentional use cases of prohibited s**stances and cases stemming from unintentional exposure to low-level contaminants.”

Several more compounds are permitted in competition, according to the UFC’s statement. Bupropion, caffeine, nicotine, phenylephrine, pipradrol, clonidine, and imidazoline derivatives for use in dermatology, nasal, or ophthalmology, and more make up the largest list of them.

Notably, the UFC’s new anti-doping policy has resulted in the following change to the WADA technical specifications. Regarding “Decision Concentration Levels,”

“Adverse Analytical Findings (AAFs) reported at an estimated concentration below the following Decision Concentration Levels (“DCL”), as reported by a WADA-accredited Laboratory or UFC designated Laboratory, shall be managed by the Independent Administrator as Atypi-cal Findings under Article 7.1.9 of the UFC ADP:

Clomiphene/clomifene: 0.10 ng/mL
Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (DHCMT) long-term metabolite (M3): 0.10 ng/mL
Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs): 0.10 ng/mL
GW-1516 (GW-501516): 0.10 ng/mL
Epitrenbolone (Trenbolone metabolite): 0.20 ng/mL”

Similar to the USADA,  athletes are mandated to submit their whereabouts quarterly. Failure to comply three times in a rolling 12-month period could result in a policy violation.

Also, therapeutic use exemptions can be sought on a case-by-case basis. An impartial administrator will oversee this procedure. In order to avoid fines, athletes must now notify TUEs 21 days ahead of when they plan to take the intended PED.

UFC Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky emphasizes that the new anti-doping program is the culmination of collaborative efforts. He asserts that it will remain dynamic, evolving based on scientific support to ensure the ongoing protection of UFC athletes.

He stated: “This latest UFC Anti-Doping Program is the result of our continued efforts to protect the athletes who compete in the Octagon. This new program is the result of years of input and trial and error taken by UFC, our athletes, and third parties who have assisted UFC in operating the program.”

“The anti-doping policy is a living and breathing document that will continue to evolve and adapt when clear science supports changes that can further protect UFC athletes who compete in UFC.”