UFC heavyweight Mark Hunt has long suspected that the UFC and UFC President Dana White knew Brock Lesnar was using anabolic steroids all along when they signed him to fight at UFC 200. And not only did the UFC know, it conspired with Lesnar to help him evade steroid testing as long as possible.
On January 10,2017, Hunt filed a civil complaint against Zuffa LLC (doing business as Ultimate Fighting Championship), Brock Lesnar and Dana White in United States District Court in Las Vegas. The cause of action for the complaint included Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Conspiracy to Commit Crime Related to Racketeering, Fraud, False Pretences, Breach of Contract, Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing and Unjust Enrichment.
Specifically, Hunt alleged that the UFC and White put profit first to the detriment of the health and safety of its mixed martial arts athletes when it gave Lesnar an exemption from the required 4-month period of steroid testing prior to UFC 200.
“UFC and its agents have affirmatively circumvented and obstructed fair competition for their own benefit, including being complicit in doping proliferation under the guise of advancing ‘the best anti-doping program in all of professional sports.’ Defendants have accomplished this by means including but not limited to various and rampant purported use exemptions, drug testing exemptions and by failure to enforce its own policies.”
The lawsuit alleged that UFC and Lesnar both knew the WWE superstar was going to participate in UFC 200 more than four months prior to the event. This gave UFC and Lesnar more than enough time to comply with the 4-month USADA drug testing protocols as outlined in the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.
Lesnar admitted that discussions had been going on for over four months during an interview with Hannah Storm on the morning edition of ESPN’s Sports Center on June 6, 2016. Lesnar interestingly conceded that UFC was motivated to sign him because he would make a lot of money for them.
“Big business. At the end of the day I’m a prize fighter… I fight for money, and it’s no different, they’re making money, I’m making money, everybody is making money,” Lesnar told Storm. “That’s what this is all about… It just so happens I’m making a boatload of money… I can’t disclose… there’s lots of zeroes behind it.”
UFC apparently wanted Lesnar to participate at UFC 200 to help it close a $4 billion sale of the parent company to William Morris Endeavor (WME-IMG). The sale was announced only days after UFC 200 on July 11, 2016. UFC President White earned an estimated $360 million as his share of the sale. So everyone involved had hundreds of millions of reasons to look the other way when it came to possible steroid use by Lesnar.
“What upsets me about that is, I’m just thinking maybe they knew,” Hunt told The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on July 25 2016. “Did they know about this? Is that why they’re not doing anything about it? Did they give this fucking fool an exemption for four months because they knew about this? Because surely if they knew about this, they don’t give a rat’s about any of us…
“We’ll let this fucking white piece of shit fucking stick needles in his ass and say, ‘oh, he’s going to take us all the way to the fucking bank.’ Let’s give him fucking millions of dollars and not worry about this motherfucker.”
Even UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky knew the score on this one. When Hunt started ranting about the UFC using its anti-doping program as a guise to promote steroid-using athletes like Lesnar, Novitzky was called in last summer to help pacify Hunt and assure him that that was not the case. At the same time, Novitzky knew that Lesnar had been explicitly promised no steroid testing until he executed his UFC 200 bout agreement in June 2016.
Novitzky was once a respected government investigator with the IRS and FDA who tracked down steroid use by professional athletes like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Lance Armstrong. However, Novitzky appears to have sold out to the high-paying UFC. The UFC bought Novitzky and his reputation and used it to prop up the credibility of its UFC Anti-Doping Policy.
Hunt’s lawsuit doesn’t just represent sour grapes on Hunt’s part after he lost to Lesnar at UFC 200. Hunt has consistently complained about Lesnar’s exemption from the 4-month testing window ever since last summer. Hunt expressed his unhappiness on UFC Fight Week on Fox Sports Australia as soon as Lesnar was announced as his opponent at UFC 200 in June 2016.
“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… How are you going to clean the sport up doing that shit? It won’t happen. I don’t think it’s fair… 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.”
Hunt wasn’t the only MMA fighter that felt this way. On 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.
“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!”
Regardless of the outcome of Hunt’s lawsuit against the UFC and Lesnar, Hunt wasn’t afraid to call out the Lesnar and the entire $4-billion UFC corporate behemoth to make his point.