The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the largest mixed martial arts promotion company in the world, has announced a multimillion-dollar anti-doping plan after fighters Anderson Silva, Nick Diaz, and Hector Lombard were temporarily suspended for failed drug tests.

Effective July 1, all fighters will be subject to random performance-enhancing drug testing. UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta remarked the world’s leading MMA promotion will urge athletic commissions to impose more severe doping penalties. The UFC CEO went on to remark that he supports the idea of a two-year ban imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency for first-time offenders and increasing the ban to four years if WADA goes that route. Fertitta said our current methods are catching athletes using PEDs and added although we feel confident that the in-competition has been effective, we recognize the need for a more robust out-of-competition plan in accordance with athletic commissions and regulatory bodies.

The UFC CEO also said we can do better and added we have all seen similar challenges in the world of sports. And consequently we see that the UFC is no more immune to performance-enhancing drug use than any other major sport. He added the UFC spent approximately $500,000 on drug testing in 2013 and 2014 and was now willing to spend “several million dollars” for both in- and out-of-competition testing. Fertitta also remarked the UFC expected to administer around 984 tests a year, based on 41 events.

Georges St-Pierre, a longtime advocate for more of drug testing, appreciated the announcement. The former welterweight champion said the announcement is clearly a big step in the right direction for our sport and added he is very happy to learn about the UFC announcing a new comprehensive random PED testing.

California state athletic commission executive director Andy Foster said it is one thing for the UFC to snap its fingers and announce a major change but added state regulatory agencies don’t always work so quickly, nor should they. Nevada state athletic commission executive director Bob Bennett remarked a four-year suspension would be a phenomenal deterrent, especially in this sport as it would make a fighter think twice.

The UFC announcement was also appreciated by Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission Executive Director Greg Sirb. He remarked you have got to give them some credit for jumping ahead and doing something on an issue as serious as this. Sirb added at least they’re being proactive on this, which is good and added but each commission has its own state or tribal laws and regulations and so whatever the UFC comes up with, they’re going to have to have it adopted by every state commission. Sirb also remarked his thought would be that the suspension would go to the MMA database as well as the national boxing database, so when that fighter’s name comes up for a card, that’s good information for the commission. He also remarked he likes the idea of them putting that information out there, telling us who tested positive, for what and when and we may not want to license him.

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