UFC Hopes That 24-Hour Round-the-Clock Steroid Testing Will Stop MMA Athletes from Micro-Dosing and Duck-and-Dodge Strategies

The Ultimate Fight Championships (UFC) mixed martial arts organization has advertised its anti-doping policy as the best program in the world with the best chance of putting an end to steroid use in MMA. One of the ways it intended to do this was through 24-hour round-the-clock unannounced drug testing.

UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky promoted the UFC as the only private professional sports organization in the United States that requires its athletes to agree to unannounced drug testing 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.

“You’re going to be susceptible to micro-dosing when you have a level of predictability in your testing,’’ Novitzky recently told USA Today Sports. “And with our program, athletes don’t. They never know when the tester’s coming. They could come early, they could come late, they could conceivably come in the middle of the night if they had some cause.”

Novitzky indirectly referred to a shortcoming of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The overwhelming majority of all MLB drug testing takes place at the MLB stadiums where players practice and play.

“Now if you have predictability in your testing like some of the other professional leagues do – and that could be as little as knowing you’re only going to be tested when you’re at the facility – that’s when you’re vulnerable, in my experience, to micro-dosing.”

If MLB players know that drug testing will almost always take place at the stadium, then they have the opportunity to time their use of steroids and PEDs so that they will test clean once they arrive at the stadium. The practice of micro-dosing PEDs in such a manner has become a common way for drug-tested athletes to avoid detection.

Athletes simply “duck and dogde” drug testers until they are certain the drugs have sufficiently cleared their system so that they can pass anti-doping controls. The mastermind behind baseball’s BALCO steroid scandal in the early 2000s, Victor Conte, has criticized the loophole allowing microdosing as a major shortcoming of MLB’s anti-doing program.

“So at night you’re healing and recovering and there’s tissue repair and you’re getting the anabolic benefits,’’ Conte said. “By the time you show up at the stadium, you’ll test negative.’’

The MLB responded to Conte’s criticisms by pointing out that is anti-doping policy does allow it to test athletes before games, during games and after games and not just merely at the stadium. However, the MLB acknowledged that most of its drug tests currently take place at the stadium.

While UFC’s anti-doping policy permits 24-hour round-the-clock testing, we don’t really know how often, if ever, USADA drug testing officers really show up in the middle of the night to collect urine and blood samples.

An anti-doping policy that allows round-the-clock testing is meaningless if drug testing officers never show up in the middle of the night to collect samples in actual practice.


Peter, J. (September 3, 2018). BALCO figures offer how to rid sports of doping 15 years after scandal. Retrieved from usatoday.com/story/sports/2018/09/03/balco-doping-peds-five-steps-rid-sports/1182307002/

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