LAS VEGAS – The UFC partnership with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) may have come to an end, but their anti-doping program will continue under a partnership with a different entity.
UFC executive vice president and chief business officer Hunter Campbell along with senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitsky announced Thursday that the Las Vegas-based MMA promotion will partner with Drug Free Sport International to run its athlete anti-doping program starting in 2024.
This news comes on the heels of a contentious statement by USADA on Wednesday announcing that the UFC did not renew its services for drug testing.
“Eight years ago when Jeff came over to work with Dana (White) and Lorenzo (Fertitta) and Laurence (Epstein) and the whole team here to build out this program, there wasn't a mechanism to do this in any other way than using USADA,” Campbell told MMA Junkie and other reporters at a news conference. “Frankly, I would say, the first six years of the program, USADA was an incredible partner. I know that we built out the single greatest testing program in all of professional sports. I couldn't be prouder of the program that was built. In the last several years, and I know a lot of you have followed it and seen it, there's been a tremendous amount of technological change that has occurred and not only has there been a massive amount of change, there's also been a change in the science that has gone into it as well as the players in the space.
“… We didn't terminate the USADA partnership. We just informed them that we wouldn't be renewing and that we would be building out a new program at the beginning of the year. So, the testing continues, everything is status quo through the end of the year until something happens otherwise, I don't know. It's going to be a complicated relationship for the next few months. Conor (McGregor) is 100 percent in the pool.”
USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in his announcement that differences over whether UFC star Conor McGregor should be granted an exemption from the required six-month testing window caused friction between the UFC and USADA, thus causing their contract not to get renewed. Campbell categorically denied those accusations.
The UFC has been working with USADA since 2015 and will continue to run the anti-doping program until Dec. 31.
DFSI currently works with NCAA, MLB, NFL, NBA and other sports organizations. They have been involved in anti-doping programs for more than two decades. George Piro will serve as the independent administrator of the UFC's anti-doping program.