The UFC is to revolutionise its drugs testing policy in wake of recent high-profile scandals that have threatened the future of the company.
Speaking at a special press conference, UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, president Dana White and COO Lawrence Epstein laid out plans for a new drugs test policy that will start later this year.
All fighters on the roster - approximately 585 or so on any given week - will be subjected to random, year-round, out-of-competition testing.
The new policy will go live on July 1st 2015, so that the UFC can work on the finer details and work with the commissions to implement the strategy.
Doing what they need to do to survive
Although the UFC would like to stick by the commissions and leave it solely in their hands, this move was a long time coming and is one that had to be taken to save the sport.
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The drugs test failure of UFC legend, Anderson Silva has dragged the company into disrepute, leaving his legacy tarnished and the foundations of the UFC under serious scrutiny.
Then there's UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Jon Jones' test failure for cocaine, of which other tests also raised concerns he may have been masking something else.
It's perhaps only fitting then that with those fighters at the top under such heat, the UFC is going to be coming down harshly with an enhanced out-of-competition drug testing to main event and championship fighters on all cards.
Working with commissions for harsher punishments
While the UFC is taking over their drugs testing policies, they're still leaving it in the hands of the athletic commissions to decide punishments, where applicable.
This is due to US events having commissions in place already, while the UFC self-regulate most of the international events.
Yet, when they're not in control of punishing cheaters, they're going to push commissions towards longer suspensions.
"We certainly advocate for [the two-year ban]," Said UFC CEO, Fertitta "We are committed to it in every way that you possibly could be. There should be no mistake there. This is a call-out to all of the athletes on our roster.
"Given the recent spate of high-profile cases, we felt like we needed to do this sooner rather than later," Fertitta said. "For the good of the sport, for the integrity of the sport, for what we're trying to do here, we needed to address this issue ASAP."
"Fighters are going to look at risk vs. reward. If I can make a couple million dollars, I'll take the risk. Two or four years [suspension] could be career-threatening. Now you look at the risk vs. reward, and it's a lot more dangerous" added UFC President, Dana White.
The UFC made sure to clarify that they aren't just doing this for themselves though and want other companies to step-up.
"We encourage other companies in the industry to adopt the same procedures," Said Fertitta, "Honestly, it's going to get worse before it gets better."
Many fighters have welcome the change - including Georges St-Pierre, who left the UFC over issues with a lack of serious drugs testing.
"Very happy to learn about the UFC announcing a new comprehensive random PED testing. Clearly a big step in the right direction for our sport. Can't wait to get more details about the actual protocol, 3rd party testing agency and new sanctions." He said in a series of tweets.
St-Pierre wasn't the only one in a tweeting mood either:
"Hey kids #DontDoDrugs...even @ufc is saying so finally...I'll be the 1st one in line...
#TheOnceAndFutureKing" Said former UFC Lightweight champ, Benson Henderson.
"Agreed Bellator needs to agree to the same testing policy!" Said One-FC Welterweight champ, Ben Askren.
Not everyone was a fan though, with some remaining very skeptical of how the UFC will handle things.
"It sucks hearing all this from the UFC and wanting to believe it but knowing certain guys will still be protected and it's all BS :/" Said Cody Bollinger, who has previously fought in World Series Of Fighting and Bellator.
Either way, it's a step in the right direction and by introducing it later this year, it will go a long way to cleaning up the sport in the future and that's only going to be a good thing.
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