USADA Announces Split from UFC Amid Conor McGregor Issues

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The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced Wednesday that UFC fighter Conor McGregor had officially entered the testing pool hinting it line up schedule-wise for a UFC 300 bout next year. However, USADA CEO Travis Tygart released a statement in a news release stating there is a wrinkle to the “good news” and that USADA’s partnership with the UFC will be coming to an end.

The end of the nearly nine-year partnership will be ending on January 1, 2024.

UFC and USADA to Split Ways January 2024

Tygart stated the UFC and USADA had a “positive and productive meeting in May” but they ultimately reached an extension and the UFC did an “about-face.” The ultimate issue came from the UFC “questioning USADA’s gold standard” surrounding their treatment of Conor McGregor in the past year.

McGregor removed himself from the USADA testing pool after suffering a fractured leg in a fight against Dustin Poirier at UFC 264 in July 2021. According to the UFC’s anti-doping policy, maintained by USADA, a fighter who re-enters the drug-testing pool must spend at least six months in it and pass two drug tests before competing again. Worth noting, however, the UFC could waive the six-month rule for a fighter at any time with the most infamous example being Brock Lesnar at UFC 200.

The fallout from the UFC allowing Brock Lesnar to have an exemption allowed him to fight Mark Hunt in a bout he won before it was overturned due to a positive drug test. Hunt followed that up by filing a lawsuit against the UFC for putting him in harm with the company knowing his status but that lawsuit was dismissed in September.

USADA also hinted at comments made by color commentator Joe Rogan as part of their disgust with the UFC. Rogan had recently said on his podcast that the UFC should do their own testing which caused Tygart to bounce back by stating, “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.”

While USADA has paraded their presence in the UFC as a “win” for the sport, they have had their fair share of critics. Luke Thomas of Viacom discussed the news on the Morning Kombat YouTube channel and did not hold back on his excitement about the news while also holding USADA responsible for several shortcomings.

“Taking advantage of athletes who have no protections. Punishing them, in many cases severely affecting their career. In rare, but real cases, destroying their careers. Later admitting the science upon which those decisions were made they now know as b*******.”

Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency chimed in as well stating “UFC has always needed to be under the Ali Act—now more than ever. They also need a players union like the NFL.”

It remains unclear if Conor McGregor will remain in the USADA testing pool for six months, but it seems he is finally inching toward a bout with Michael Chandler. The UFC and McGregor didn’t release a follow-up statement to USADA and there is no news in regards to where drug testing could go outside of returning to being the task of state commissions.

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