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After reviewing the current guidelines, the UFC has made some major changes to their U.S. Anti-Doping Agency policy to give better protection and acknowledgment to athletes who fall foul of contaminated supplements.
It was announced Monday that, in looking at their existing agreement, the UFC and USADA identified key areas they felt needed to be addressed, with the two organizations agreeing to make “several significant chances” to the UFC anti-doping policy.
The major changes involve decision concentration levels and certified supplements, and also include the introduction of a “UFC prohibited list.” That list features a variety of substances identified in contaminated supplements and includes concentration levels, or thresholds, that would not provide any athletic performance improvement.
“Putting forth a fair anti-doping program with due process protection is integral to having a strong and comprehensive program,” UFC senior VP of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky said in a statement. “A combination of the pervasiveness of low level contaminants in our environment and the increased levels of testing sensitivity of anti-doping laboratories has created an explicit need for decision concentration levels to ensure that the program is penalizing intentional cheaters and not those athletes who have been faithfully adhering to the anti-doping policy.”
The issue of contaminated supplements has been a hot topic in MMA in recent years, with a host of athletes finding themselves flagged after unintentionally ingesting banned substances that were not listed in the ingredients of their chosen supplements. That group includes welterweight Tim Means and middleweight Yoel Romero, who were both banned for six months after it was discovered their flagged samples were traced back to contaminated supplements. Romero slapped the manufacturer of his supplements, Gold Star Performance Products, with a lawsuit and won total damages of $ 27.45 million.
Most recently, Nate Diaz was flagged by USADA prior to UFC 244 but was exonerated and allowed to fight when it was determined the results of his test were traced back to an organic plant-based multivitamin.
With these changes, UFC and USADA are effectively attempting to reduce or eliminate the contaminated supplement issue. Now, instances of banned substances being found in contaminated supplements will be treated as “atypical” provided the levels sit below the stated thresholds on the UFC prohibited list.
The new policy also directs athletes to use only supplements that have been certified by USADA’s approved list of five different certification agencies. If a fighter tests positive, and it’s proved that the offending substance came from one of the certified supplements, no sanctions will be levied. In addition, the UFC has partnered with supplement company Thorne to supply suitably certified supplements to UFC athletes via the UFC Performance Institute.
UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell added: “UFC and USADA remain committed to the dynamic landscape of anti-doping and will continue to comprehensively review the UFC anti-doping policy together with independent experts and state athletic commissions, to ensure it remains the most effective and comprehensive anti-doping program in all of professional sports and provides fairness and due process to all UFC athletes.”
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