Following a string of high-profile failed drug tests by some of their fighters, UFC officials announced plans for a stronger drug-testing policy on Wednesday.
UFC executives Lawrence Epstein, Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White said the new multi-million dollar policy would provide enhanced year-round testing in and out of competitions effective July 1. Fertitta said the UFC is talking with various global testing organizations to create a random drug testing protocol for its approximately 585 fighters, all of whom will be subject World Anti-Doping Administration standards.
The UFC spent about $500,000 on drug tests over the course of 2013-14, according to its website.
The announcement came one day after it was revealed that former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva failed two drug tests in January. Silva failed an out-of-competition test administered on Jan. 9, and while he passed another test on Jan. 19, he failed the post-fight urine test administered after his UFC 183 victory over Nick Diaz on Jan. 31.
"We've been working on this for a long time," Fertitta said. "What the Anderson Silva thing has done is prompted us to speed up the process. We don't have the luxury to be academic and debate all these legal points. We're going to make sure fighters are being tested."
Last month, light heavyweight champion Jon Jones briefly checked himself into rehab after testing positive for cocaine during a random out-of-competition test a month before his Jan. 3 title bout against Daniel Cormier at UFC 182.
Welterweight contender Hector Lombard also tested positive for a designer steroid commonly known as Madol this month.
In addressing the "disappointment" UFC expressed in the failed tests, White, UFC's president, said there some misconceptions related to Jones' and Silva's situations.
"Jon Jones was tested out-of-competition on Dec. 4 (and) he tested positive for cocaine," White said. "He was then again tested on Dec. 18. He was negative for PEDs. For people who don't understand: The way that WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) works is, you do not test for recreational drugs out-of-competition. Out-of-competition, you do not test for recreational drugs."
"Had Jon Jones tested positive for recreational drugs after the fight, he would be in even more trouble," White said. "He was fined $25,000 for violating the (UFC) code of conduct, and that money ended up being donated to a charity that benefits children impacted by drug use."
- Mike Fiammetta