For all of the fight fans that want the UFC to crack down on performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), help could be on the way. VADA, one of the biggest anti-doping agencies in the world, has offered the UFC what would essentially be free out-of-competition drug testing for a minimum of one year, and it may be an offer that UFC President Dana White and company can’t (but probably will) refuse.

VADA is offering random testing for both blood and urine samples without sending the UFC any administrative charges. The promotion would still have to pay some fees to the WADA-accredited labs that the tests are sent to, but VADA itself wouldn’t be making any money off of the UFC.

In theory, this seems like a golden opportunity for the UFC to make some serious progress in cleaning up the sport, but there are a couple factors that could throw a wrench in a potential partnership between the promotion and VADA.

Although VADA has earned a decent reputation in the anti-doping field, the UFC has been a bit reluctant to do business with the company in the past, instead letting fighters themselves deal with the agency.

High-profile fighters such as B.J. Penn, Rory MacDonald, Roy Nelson and Shane Carwin have all undergone some sort of testing by VADA in the last six months, but the UFC stayed out of the process for the most part, allowing the fighters to be tested but avoiding any association with VADA in the process. The UFC relies on the State Athletic Commissions for testing at the moment, and although the promotion has tested fighters on its own before, it seems like the majority of testing is going to continue to be done by various athletic commissions. These commissions may not have the same resources that VADA has at their disposal, but they are the governing body that the UFC has to answer to at the end of the day.

On top of that, it’s hard to deny that the UFC’s current system isn’t at least somewhat effective at the moment. The promotion has busted more fighters over the last six months than we’ve seen in quite some time, and if the number of positive tests keeps growing, it will be hard to say that the UFC even needs VADA.

But that still doesn’t mean VADA’s offer has no value.

Though it seems like the UFC will opt to continue its own testing policies, VADA’s offer really is an opportunity the UFC should consider. PED use is the biggest concern among those who follow MMA at the moment, and additional, more complete testing could make a huge difference in the public perception of the sport. If the UFC can use VADA to prove its athletes are some of the cleanest in professional sports, it will do a lot to kill the negative stereotypes that go along with being an MMA fighter.

There’s always the possibility that increased testing is going to lead to more fighters getting busted during camp and fights being canceled. But once the first few athletes are caught and suspended, the risk of using PEDs at any point during training camp will suddenly be much higher in the eyes of the fighters. In the short term, it may lead to a few high-profile bouts getting called off, but the end result would lead to the sport being cleaner as a whole. Sure, there are going to be fighters that just work harder to break the rules, but VADA would make it much more difficult to try to beat the system.

While the UFC’s current system has been more effective over the last few months, this offer from VADA should be too good for the promotion to pass up. If the deal truly will save the UFC some money, along with cleaning up the sport at the same time, it’s almost irresponsible for the promotion to let this opportunity die.

Photo: B.J. Penn (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.

  • dan

    One of the biggest anti-doping agencies in the world?