UFC Announces New Drug-Testing Partner As Feud With USADA Escalates

After USADA’s revelation yesterday that the UFC is ending their partnership with the anti-doping agency at the start of next year the company has quickly moved to shoot down talk that their drug-testing standards will decline by revealing their new testing partner, ‘Drug Free Sport International, while also vigorously denying claims that they were parting ways due to a disagreement over Conor McGregor’s return to the testing pool.

“The relationship between USADA and UFC became untenable given the statements made by UFC leaders and others questioning USADA’s principled stance that McGregor not be allowed to fight without being in the testing pool for at least six months,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart had said.

However, UFC Executive Vice-President Hunter Campbell has fired back at Tygart in no uncertain terms, revealing that the real reason for the split as that they are parting with a different testing partner.

“We didn’t terminate the USADA partnership,” Campbell stated at a press conference. “We just informed them that we wouldn’t be renewing and that we would be building out a new program at the beginning of the year. So, the testing continues, everything is status quo through the end of the year until something happens otherwise, I don’t know. It’s going to be a complicated relationship for the next few months. Conor (McGregor) is 100 percent in the pool.”

The new program Campbell refers to is with Drug Free Sport International, who are an integral part of many other leading sporting organizations drug-testing campaigns.

“[Drug Free Sport International] currently handle collection duties for the following professional sports leagues — they have 325 long-term tenured sports clients including the NFL, the NCAA, Major League Baseball, NBA, WNBA, NASCAR, horse racing integrity and welfare unit, PGA, LPGA, FIFA, Crossfit,” the UFC’s senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitsky said. “They actually help out with some drug-testing with various National Anti-Doping Authorities throughout the world and various sports federations. They virtually collect samples for everybody.”

And not only are they reputable, but Novitsky says the new program will also be a step-up from the current testing undertaken by USADA.

“What you’re going to see is smarter, more efficient, greater use of technology and once again, more convenience to our athletes,” Novitzky said, revealing that there will be an increased amount of blood testing and more ‘special analysis testing’ among other benefits.

According to Campbell, Tygart was well aware of what the UFC was planning and the reasons for it, but in his own words believes the USADA CEO had “a version of a mental breakdown” after being informed that the UFC was parting ways with the company.

“I couldn’t have been more clear about the reasons that we were making the change, and he was just completely unhinged,” Campbell recalled. “Truly, it was a version of a mental breakdown. The only thing that I logically can sit back as I reflect and think on that call is this is an individual that’s dealing with a lot of sh*t right now. I think that call was the straw that broke the camel’s back type of moment.”

It’s Tygart’s allegation that Conor McGregor’s situation had anything to do with the split that appears to have particularly riled up the UFC brass, and is something that Campbell strongly denies.

“Disappointingly, they used Conor McGregor as a vehicle to sort of articulate and re-frame a complete misrepresentation of what occurred over the last several months… What I can categorically tell you is, what USADA has put out in the last 48 hours could not be farther from the truth.”

As such, Campbell revealed that he issued a legal document to Tygart demanding an immediate apology.

“We hereby demand that you publish an appropriate retraction and apology to the UFC by no later than Thursday, October 12 at 5:00 p.m.,” a letter from Campbell’s law firm to Tygart stated. “The retraction should acknowledge the falsity of the representations of the statement that express or imply the UFC ended its relationship with USADA in order to expedite McGregor’s return to the UFC. The retraction should also acknowledge the UFC’s repeated representations to you that McGregor will not fight in the UFC until he has spent six months in the testing pool and returned two clean tests as required by the ADP.”

During the press conference Campbell went into further detail about the conversations that had taken place regarding McGregor’s situation.

At no point in time did Jeff, myself, or any other UFC representative, Dana – not a single person ever went to USADA and told them anything other than Conor McGregor would re-enter the program when he was healthy,” Campbell stated. “In doing so, we would require him to be in the program for six months. There would be no exception to the rule. What I said to Travis on multiple occasions, including the call on Monday, was there would never be a situation where Conor would fight until he had been in the program for six months. And my words were, ‘I don’t give a sh*t if he has 37 clean tests.’ This is one of those cases where Conor was the most tested athlete in the UFC before he catastrophically shattered his leg.

“The conversations I had with Conor and his physician when that occurred had nothing to do with fighting, they were legitimately concerned he wasn’t going to regain full use of his leg ever again, including the ligaments around it. And I’ll say it one last time, what they’ve done to him is disgusting. For an entity that holds themself out to have a level of honor and integrity, using him as a media vehicle to advance a fake narrative is disturbing, disgusting, and I think they have some legitimate legal liability that they should be very concerned with.”

For the record, Tygart issued a brief statement after the press conference that indicates USADA has no intention of retracting their initial statement.

“We stand by our statement and our credibility,” Tygart wrote.

Watch the UFC’s full press conference on the matter below.

Ross launched MMA Insight (previously FightOfTheNight.com) in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts. He's since penned countless news stories and live fight reports along with dozens of feature articles as the lead writer for the site, reaching millions of fans in the process.