By Evan Stoumbelis
The Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) has responded to UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta’s comments regarding the potential for a third-party, in this case VADA, to test fighters year round. Former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is a very adamant supporter of third party testing. While training for his bout with Johny Hendricks Georges underwent random testing with the VADA, and even offered to pay his for Hendricks to be tested with the program as well, however Hendricks chose not to.
Lorenzo Fertitta spoke with ESPN.com about the possibility, or rather the lack thereof, of a third party randomly testing fighters year round saying:
“I think we have to understand at the end of the day we are unlike other sports. We are regulated and cannot be presumptuous in thinking we can just take away whatever authority [commissions] have and put it in our hands. It’s not that simple.
Fertitta went on to say:
“VADA has no jurisdiction over a fight. Whether a fight takes place, suspensions, a fighter license — it’s all relative to the commission. I don’t want to put words in their mouth, but they don’t want to be in a situation where a third party has done testing, they have no idea what happened and are then put in a position where they have to render a decision on something they had nothing to do with.”
Former UFC kingpin Georges St-Pierre has been very vocal on his desire for the UFC to clean up the sport of Mixed Martial Arts through random drug testing year round, and has said he may not return until the UFC does so.
Fertitta commented on the situation in his statement to ESPN.com saying:
“The commission is more than willing to test for whatever [banned substances]. Georges just wants to make sure they are adhering to the level of a VADA, which I think clearly can be put into place. That’s not a problem.
VADA responded to Fertitta’s comments through a statement to Bloodyelbow.com saying:
To date, commissions have accepted and reviewed our results, irrespective of conducting their own testing. VADA notifies commissions, the ABC, the promoter and the fighter as results are obtained. It is the role of the commission to adjudicate those results. VADA’s only role is to facilitate testing and educate the participants.
Unannounced, year-round PED testing of all UFC athletes can be done if the promoter or another entity is willing to fund the program, but it takes considerable time and forethought to have it done correctly, uniformly and fairly. It goes beyond funding. Athletes must have complete knowledge of the program’s procedures, policies and results management. Irrespective of funding, few commissions have the manpower to institute a year-round program of all licensees.
When the UFC holds events outside a commission’s jurisdiction, they are acting as a third party and adjudicator. We remain available to promotional organizations like the UFC when they hold contests and test athletes where there is no commission. When commissions arrange testing, it should be independent of any specific recommendations by the promotional company.
It’s important to keep the discussion at the forefront. This continues to be VADA’s goal. Along with our renown scientific director, Dr. Don Catlin, who independently certifies the results, we continue to advise many athletic commissions and physicians worldwide regarding expanding their PED testing protocols.
Both Dr. Flip Homansky, VADA’s VP and myself have known Mr. Fertitta for many years. We would be happy to meet with him at any time to detail not only our program, but discuss what VADA and how PED education can be expanded to all the UFC athletes.