LAS VEGAS — Dana White hates the idea of a fighter stepping into the octagon under the influence of performance enhancing drugs. “You go in and you face another fighter,” says the UFC president, “you can hurt him.”
So why doesn’t the fight promotion hire a private company that could administer more rigorous random testing than what’s possible within the budget constraints of state athletic commissions? One reason might be that White has concerns over a correlated effect of expanded testing, especially if done at times other than during fight week.
“Everybody thinks that if you did the random testing you’d catch so many guys on PEDs,” White told a group of reporters following Thursday’s UFC 155 pre-fight press conference. “You’d catch more guys on marijuana.”
Well, OK, so Nick Diaz would perpetually be under suspension, or at least double-secret probation. And any fighter who’s ever hung out in Diaz’s living room in Stockton, Calif., might have to worry about the lingering effects of a contact high. But that’s about it, right?
Not according to White. “So, 475 guys under contract,” he said, “and 400 will be out with marijuana.”
Four hundred? As in, 84 percent of the UFC's roster?
Now, I realize that some fighters live in Colorado and Washington, states where pot is now legal. I know the light heavyweight champion walked out to a reggae classic prior to his last fight. Nonetheless, White’s estimate seems astoundingly high, so to speak, especially considering how vigilant many athletes in this sport are about every last thing they allow into their bodies. There are lots of vegetarians and vegans in the UFC, and many of those who do eat meat will consume only organic. I suppose that doesn’t rule out pot, but still … 400 out of 475? That’d be like all of the major leagues except the AL Central being stoners.
Speaking of which, White’s claim came while he was being questioned about UFC drug policy as it relates to those in other professional sports. And his comment on that topic was not surprising. Calling the recent years' PED focus on players from the past misplaced, White said, “Go after the guys who are playing now. Those are the ones you want to bust.”
And even when the names of Manny Ramirez and Ryan Braun were brought up, as active players who were suspended for positive steroid tests, White would not concede that Major League Baseball or any other mainstream sport is doing a better job than the UFC of keeping things clean. “If you think baseball and football are really knocking it out of the park, pun intended, you’re crazy,” he said. “If they were really testing all the guys in baseball, do you think there’d be a [expletive] baseball game every day? There wouldn’t be, man. They’d be pulling guys up from the minors every day. It’d be crazy.”