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HomesportUsada to part ways with UFC over Conor McGregor, testing policy

Usada to part ways with UFC over Conor McGregor, testing policy

COLORADO – The strained relationship between the UFC and the US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) is coming to an end, which could mean that Conor McGregor will be back in the octagon sooner than anticipated.

Usada CEO Travis Tygart on Wednesday made two announcements in a statement regarding his agency’s relationship with the mixed martial arts company.

First, McGregor is re-entering Usada’s drug-testing pool. Second, it may not be for long as Usada will end its partnership with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) on Jan 1.

Tygart stated that the two sides met recently about renewing Usada’s contract to run the UFC’s anti-doping programme, a role Usada has served since 2015.

But, according to Tygart’s statement, “despite a positive and productive meeting about a contract renewal in May 2023, UFC did an about-face and informed Usada on Monday, Oct 9, that it was going in a different direction”.

At the heart of the issue is McGregor. After suffering a broken leg against Dustin Poirier in July 2021, McGregor withdrew from the Usada drug-testing pool while he went into rehabilitation. According to Usada rules, a fighter must spend six months in the testing pool and pass two drug tests before returning to fight.

Until Tygart’s statement, McGregor had yet to re-enter the testing pool. Usada also took issue with statements made about the Irishman’s status by people associated with UFC.

In a July interview, when talking about whether McGregor needed to be in the testing pool for six months, UFC president Dana White said: “We’ll see how that plays out. Usada is saying that now, but who knows? The Conor thing, who the hell knows how that’s going to play out? Who cares what Usada says?”

UFC commentator Joe Rogan said in his podcast in September that the UFC should do in-house drug testing because some Usada policies are prohibitive to UFC fighters (naming the six-month rule and the fact fighters cannot take banned substances for healing while away from fighting).

“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,” Tygart’s statement said.

“One UFC commentator echoed this recently, declaring that Usada should not oversee the UFC programme since we held firm to the six-month rule involving McGregor, and since we do not allow fighters without an approved medical basis to use performance-enhancing drugs… for healing or injuries simply to get back in the octagon.”

There are currently no announced plans for when the 35-year-old McGregor, a former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion, may return to fighting. REUTERS

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