Why Are So Many UFC Fighters Failing Drug Tests?
UFC is one of the few sports that do not implement year-round random drug testing. With over 475 contracted fighters, UFC commissioner Dana White is fearful of drug testing, over statistics that more than 80% of them might wind up being suspended.
While steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs are of concern, the main reason for failed drug tests is not what you may think.
“Forget about PEDs,” White said. “If we get into this system that we’re talking about where we would randomly test these guys, do you know how many guys would probably test positive for marijuana? It would be probably off the charts.”
In a sport where fighters train for months ahead of time, if an athlete becomes suspended, fights often get canceled. UFC fighters need to learn their opponents strengths, weaknesses, and make weight in addition to often holding a job elsewhere. This is one of the reasons that test results from random drug testings, usually are not made known until at least a week later, to keep the fans happy and keep a fight in place, no matter how unfair the fight is.
As of current, the UFC lets matches be regulated in the U.S. by the state athletic commissions where the events are held. In Canada, the provincial governments regulate them. In parts of the world where there are no commissions, the UFC appoints Marc Ratner, its vice president of regulatory affairs, to regulate the shows and test the fighters.
Even without year-round random drug testing, the amounts of fighters who are failing drug tests are outlandish.
In the past few months, over twenty fighters have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and other illegal or illegal use drugs.
Stephan Bonnar, or “The American Psycho” was found to have used steroids in UFC 153 against Anderson Silva. The following fight, in UFC 153, Dave Herman tested positive for marijuana as well as Thiago Silva, Alex Caceres and Matt Riddle within a short period. The list continues with Joey Beltran, Rousimar Palhares, Thiago Tavares and Lavar Johnson all testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. The list is long, but as three main UFC fighters including Pat Healy have all had failed drug tests become public this week, the attention on UFC and drugs within the sport is at an all time high.
The main issue may be that many fighters don’t think there’s anything wrong with marijuana use in UFC, and are openly against penalties against it. Sure, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and a few others are actively urging for more frequent drug tests, but the list of those who oppose is significant. UFC Commissioner Dana White is against frequent drug testing, and doesn’t think marijuana should carry the same suspension as performance-enhancing drugs like steroids and testosterone transfers. Others feel the need to take laxatives in order to make weight, but don’t consider it a crime, as their fighting abilities are the same. Whatever the case is for and against drug use in UFC, at some point, one has to wonder why fighters don’t try covering up their tracks more significantly?
Pat Healy lost at least $135,000 on May 15 2013 after he tested positive for marijuana following his recent victory over Jim Miller at UFC 159. J’Leon Love also had news of his failed drug test become public on May 15th, where he faces at least a $30,000 penalty streaming from his $100,000 win against Gabriel Rosado. With the financial gain as significant as it is, and the risk of being labeled a cheater, devastating to any fighter’s career, the risk of being given a drug test and failing comes with serious consequences.
The main common drug concealer that UFC fighters use is Hydrochlorothiazide that can cover up the use of steroids and other performance-enhancement drugs. The unfortunate part is Hydrochlorothiazide is on the list of banned diuretics and while it may not show all the drugs consumed, the suspension and fines are the same.
If UFC fighters switched to taking natural detoxes, it would allow them a better chance of making weight before a fight, and any drugs in their system would be removed, allowing them to test clean for up to six hours after consuming the detox. Fighters who believe the use of marijuana should be allowed in UFC could do so, and the commissioners wouldn’t be able to find the drug in their system. If an athlete was using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs for training purposes, the detox would allow them to fight fair and test clean. Without having to worry about the increasingly prominent random-drug testing’s that are performed, being called a cheater, or being kicked out of UFC for good, it’s fascinating that more fighters are not already using natural drug detoxes. Or are they?