UFC President Dana White, along with CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, will be holding a press conference today (Wednesday, Feb. 18) from Red Rock Casino Resort in Las Vegas. A live stream of the proceedings is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT – local Vegas time).
The promotion is expected to address the recent rash of positive PED (performance enhancing drugs) tests among its fighters and how it plans to deal with the issue moving forward. Will they institute a new stricter drug-testing program? Stiffer penalties for those who fail drug tests? Stay tuned.
Interestingly enough, there’s no mention of this event on the UFC.com homepage at the moment, although UFC.tv has a stream scheduled.
PMN will provide live updates from the proceedings.
- Fertitta opens the presser with the event agenda and says they are disappointed in the results of recent drug tests but it’s a result of their new stricter testing methods. Talks about the UFC’s history of MMA regulation efforts and their track record of making the sport safer. They realize the need to beef up the testing program and these issues are dealt with in all sports.
- White speaks next. Recounts the particulars of Jon Jones’ positive cocaine test and explains the difference between out-of-competition testing and in-competition, and why Jones’ penalty of $25,000 is not stiffer. White says the money was donated to charity.
- Next White speaks on Anderson Silva’s failed drug tests and emphasizes they nor the NSAC would allow Silva to fight if they had known he was on steroids, making the point the results of the test were not received until after his fight with Nick Diaz. White also announces Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald for July 11th.
- Fertitta explains their plans for PED testing moving forward. UFC will advocate commissions test every fighter on a card on fight night, and will help with costs if need be. In addition, UFC will now do “comprehensive out of competition random PED testing” for all fighters, effective 7/1. Fertitta is also advocating for stricter penalties for failed tests and insists, “If you are using PEDs, you will be caught.”
- UFC will have to adjust the legal framework of their contracts with fighters to help enforce suspensions and penalties for out-of-competition testing.
- First time offenders could be suspended for 2-4 years. The current penalties are not enough to deter the athletes. “The proof is in the pudding,” says Fertitta. UFC will have to hire a third party to handle the out-of-competition testing.
- Anderson Silva’s future uncertain until NSAC penalty is levied.
- Because WADA is worldwide, UFC COO Lawrence Epstein feels confident they can implement international out-of-competition testing. Fertitta says it will probably get worse before it gets better. “If you are using PEDs, you’re going to get caught,” says White.
- Epstein says they are looking to other pro sports leagues and how they deal with PED testing. White emphasizes MMA is more dangerous than other sports when it comes to PED use. “If you can’t perform with your natural ability, you don’t belong here,” says White.
- “Not doing anything is not an option,” says Fertitta.
- Fertitta wants a minimum 2 year suspension for PED use.
- What happened with Cung Le is not what they are talking about here today. They want to hire a third party worldwide organization such as WADA to implement the random out of competition testing.
- Fertitta says there hasn’t been any “drastic” reactions from sponsors after the slew of positive tests. But they also know they have to “get out in front of it” and meet the issue “head on”.
- We’re sitting here today because there has been out of competition testing over the last couple years and we realize there is a problem says Fertitta. July 1st is the target date to have new procedures in place. Response has been positive from the fighters, according to Fertitta.
I’m actually pleasantly surprised. This is what is needed to clean up the sport. It’s going to be very expensive for the UFC, but in the long run it will pay off, not just for the company but for MMA as a whole. If anyone can pull this off, it is the UFC. They took an outlawed fringe sport and helped it get regulated across the U.S. and world. If MMA is to thrive and grow, this is a necessary growing pain. How many more superstars are going to fall in the process though?
And could these changes usher in the return of GSP?