UFC athletes will no longer be overseen by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the sides will end their eight year partnership amid a dispute over the drug testing of former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Conor McGregor.
The Irishman was removed from testing last year after breaking his leg in his defeat by Dustin Poirier in July 2021.
McGregor, 35, was expected to face Michael Chandler this year, but cannot fight until he is back in the testing pool for six months and return two negative tests.
USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement: “We can confirm that Conor McGregor has re-entered the USADA testing pool as of Sunday, October 8, 2023. We have been clear and firm with the UFC that there should be no exception given by the UFC for McGregor to fight until he has returned two negative tests and been in the pool for at least six months. The rules also allow USADA to keep someone in the testing pool longer before competing based on their declarations upon entry in the pool and testing results.”
“Unfortunately, we do not currently know whether the UFC will ultimately honor the six-month or longer requirement because, as of January 1, 2024, USADA will no longer be involved with the UFC Anti-Doping Program. Despite a positive and productive meeting about a contract renewal in May 2023, the UFC did an about-face and informed USADA on Monday, October 9, that it was going in a different direction.”
“Fighters’ long-term health and safety - in addition to a fair and level playing field — are more important to USADA than short-term profits at the expense of clean athletes. USADA is proud of the work we’ve done over the past eight years to clean up the UFC, and we will continue to provide our unparalleled service to UFC athletes through the remainder of our current contract, which ends December 31, 2023. As always, we will continue to uphold the rights and voices of clean athletes in all sport.”
The UFC first partnered with USADA back in 2015 to oversee the promotion’s anti-doping initiative. During the eight-year relationship, USADA conducted over 27,000 tests across the UFC’s roster.
In an interview back in July, UFC president Dana White said there was a chance McGregor could fight before the end of the year, insinuating he didn't have to be in the drug-testing pool for six months.