The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Strikeforce announced on Tuesday that all athletes will be tested for performance enhancing drugs before they sign contracts, something a Canadian expert on testing suggests is useless.
The two U.S.-based mixed martial arts organizations, both owned by Zuffa LLC, say the policy took effect Jan. 1.
"We're committed to the health and safety of our athletes and we take it very seriously," UFC chairman Lorenzo Fertitta said in announcing the new policy.
But the announcement is just window dressing, suggests Dick Pound, a Montreal-based lawyer and former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
"It's complete illusory and obviously intended to be that way," he said with a laugh. "The minute you know when you'll be tested, it's very easy to make sure you don't test positive."
The only way to really test athletes is to have a random drug testing program 365 days a year so that they cannot prepare, he said.
"They're just trying to do enough to keep the Congress off their backs," he said of the MMA announcement.
Zuffa's new testing plan comes as former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Muhammed (King Mo) Lawal tested positive for the steroid Drostanolone, according to the Nevada Athletic Commission.
If that decision stands, he faces a suspension, fine and would lose the win he scored over Lorenzo Larkin at the Jan. 7 Strikeforce event where the tests were conducted.
'Strict, consistent policy'
He has denied he took any prohibited substances on various MMA fan websites.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said in a statement that his organization has a "strict, consistent policy" regarding performance enhancing drugs and that athletes in his organization are tested.
"Therefore, we fully support the drug testing efforts of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and we will fully cooperate with the Commission regarding the matter pertaining to Mr. Lawal's test," Coker said. "We also recognize that Mr. Lawal has administrative process rights under Nevada law, and we hope that he is not prejudged before exercising such rights."
Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, said tests also were conducted on other fighters as well at the Jan. 7 event.
Those included Luke Rockhold, Keith Jardine, Robbie Lawler, Tyron Woodley, Tarec Saffiedine, Tyler Stinson, Nah-Shon Burrell, James Terry, Gian Villante, Trevor Smith, Ricky Legere, Chris Spang, Estevan Payan and Alonzo Martinez.
All came back negative, except for Lawal's test.
Drostanolone, also known as dromostanolone, Drolban or Masteron, is prescribed for high cholesterol as well as an aid in the treatment of some cancers. It is also used illegally by bodybuilders.