Brock Lesnar will return to octagon to fight Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in Las Vegas on July 9, 2016. He made the surprise announcement a few days earlier during an interview with Hannah Storm on ESPN’s SportsCenter. Lesnar had been discussing the possibility for several months with UFC President Dana White. But his UFC return wasn’t a sure thing until the UFC decided to grant him an exemption to the strict steroid testing that is usually part of the new UFC Anti-Doping Policy.
The UFC Anti-Doping Policy is independently administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). However, the UFC makes the rules and the UFC has the authority to bend the rules and make exceptions for certain athletes. And it exercised its authority to allow Lesnar to avoid the 4-month period of testing required by every other UFC athlete before each bout.
This 4-month requirement guaranteed that athletes couldn’t easily avoid testing by retiring so that they could do a few steroid cycles during the off-season only to come clean and announce their “un-retirement” just before their next bout.
Yet, the UFC took advantage of a loophole that it inserted into its Anti-Doping Policy that would allow it to give certain high-profile athletes special treatment “in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an athlete.”
“As part of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, UFC may grant a former athlete an exemption to the four-month written notice rules in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an athlete. Given Lesnar last competed in UFC on December 30, 2011, long before the UFC Anti-Doping Policy went into effect, for purposes of the Anti-Doping Policy, he is being treated similarly to a new athlete coming into the organization.”
The move obviously proves that the UFC is not serious about eliminating steroids from the sport. It also proves that Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky has either sold out his principles for a cushy high-paying private sector job or that he doesn’t have a real and meaningful voice in the UFC Anti-Doping Program.
Novitzky has been amazingly silent about the Lesnar exemption but other UFC athletes have shown no such reluctance in calling out the UFC for its farce of an anti-steroid program.
During his “The Fighter and the Kid” podcast, retired UFC heavyweight Brendan Schaub speculated that the UFC exemption allowed Lesnar the opportunity to use steroids in preparation for UFC 200. Since the start of Lesnar’s discussions with White, Lesnar could have completed a nice steroid cycle and tapered off in time to pass the pre-fight anti-doping tests.
“He [Lesnar] could have gotten off of them, and tapered off. Now he can fight and be clean,” Schaub said. “So I’m retired and let’s say they want me to fight; I have to give the drug testing sanction, body a four-month heads up like, ‘Hey, I am thinking about fighting.’ They will be like ‘Okay, you have four months where we are going to test you and you got to be clean.’ He skipped all of that and now he only has four weeks where they can test him. Does no one think this is fishy? Hey man, you can’t do that! Mark Hunt should be able to take whatever he wants.”
Given that Lesnar was basically given a green light to use steroids in the months preceding his return to the UFC, Schaub thinks it would only be fair if his UFC 200 opponent Mark Hunt was given the same freedom to use steroids without fear of testing.
“Mark Hunt should be able to take whatever he wants. Mark Hunt should come juiced to the gills and look like fucking Chong Li from Bloodsport with traps from here to here. Fuck you!”
“So maybe six months ago he told Dana, ‘Hey man I want to fight.’ And Dana was like, ‘Cool, well listen you know there is that four-month window.’ And he’ll say, ‘Okay, let’s see how we can work around this,’ If this doesn’t signal to every human being in the world that he’s probably on stuff.”
Hunt shared Schaub’s sentiments. He told UFC Fight Week on Fox Sports Australia that if “Mr. Superstar” Lesnar was exempted from the required four-month testing window then all other UFC athletes should be exempt too. He should be given the same opportunity to use steroids as Lesnar.
“I don’t think that’s fair. I think it’s load of bullshit, I think it’s rubbish,” Hunt said. “I don’t think anyone should be exempt from testing. If they’re trying to clean the sport up — mixed martial arts — this is a bad way to do it. I don’t care who you are. It’s ridiculous.
“I don’t think it’s a great move. I think he’s juiced to the gills — and I still think I’m going to knock him out. So I don’t think that’s correct. I don’t think he should be allowed to get a four-month exemption otherwise everyone else should. Otherwise I should start juicing.
“How are you going to clean the sport up doing that shit? It won’t happen. I don’t think it’s fair”
Hunt summed it up nicely when he pointed out that the UFC Anti-Doping rules apply to everyone else but they don’t apply to high-profile celebrity athletes like Brock Lesnar.
“It just annoys me. It sucks that Mr Superstar has to get away with it, get an exemption, and everyone else has to walk the straight line.”