The Voluntary Anti Doping Agency, referred to as VADA, has become a popular name recently in the MMA community. Guys like BJ Penn, Rory MacDonald, and Roy Nelson have all been associated with the agency and thus far the testing has provided good results.
While the above fighters have remained clean when drug test results come back, not all are so lucky. In fact, it seems that a failed drug test is becoming almost as common as an injury these days. The recent string of failed drug tests lead Brent Brookhouse of Bloody Elbow to speak with Dr. Margaret Goodman of VADA.
"On 2/16/13, VADA sent a proposal to the UFC addressed to Lorenzo, Dana and Frank that VADA would help them set up a state-of-the art PED program with unannounced random testing for blood and urine. We indicated that there would be no administrative charges at least for the first year. This would include education courses. We would use a WADA-accredited lab, certified doping collection officers and the results would go to the fighter, the UFC, the ABC/the official MMA record-keeper for the ABC, and the commission where the fighter held a license. I believe the UFC would save money, improve public confidence that fighters are competing clean, injuries would be less with fighters competing less on PEDs, and overall safety would improve. We also mentioned that although VADA no longer has THC in our testing panel, we would include it at their request. The testing would include EPO, hGH, CIR. To date, we have had no response, but we remain happy to discuss."
In summation, VADA would basically set up a drug testing program that involved random blood and urine tests at virtually no cost to the UFC. The promotion would incur a penalty for collection fees and the testing panel from WADA-accredited labs but it seems a small price to pay for keeping the sport clean.
An important note from this offer is that it appears as if VADA would make very little, if anything from this agreement within the first year.
Multiple fighters have come out against the random testing due to the scheduling conflicts it creates, and to a certain extent I agree with them. With every hour of every day planned out, a VADA test isn't what fighters want to do instead of sparring or grappling.
Yet, the credibility of the sport must come first and if this offer holds true, I believe that the UFC has to take advantage to prove they truly are one of the cleanest sports in the world.
Of course, as Brookhouse points out in his own article, more testing could lead to more failed tests which in turn leads to more fight cancellations. However, the UFC is the highest level of competition and as such should have the best drug testing program in MMA.
It looks as though VADA has effectively put the ball in the UFC's court to make a decision.
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