UFC Announces Plans to Ramp Up Random Drug Screenings Later This Year

Scott HarrisMMA Lead WriterAugust 28, 2014

USA Today

In the wake of high-profile drug test failures and mounting pressure to lead change, UFC officials announced Wednesday they will enhance their out-of-competition drug testing efforts.

New policies and procedures could be in place later this year. The report comes courtesy of ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto. The UFC is currently soliciting proposals from independent agencies that could contract with the UFC to conduct the actual testing.

"Unannounced blood and urine [testing] is going to happen, hopefully in the next three or four months," said UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner, according to the ESPN report. "When you're talking about 500 fighters, there are a lot of logistics. Having fighters in foreign countries makes it tougher, but we're coming up with a plan, and (agencies) are making proposals to us in the next two weeks."

By any measure, performance-enhancing substances are a major problem in mixed martial arts, hampering fighter health as well as the sport's path toward greater mainstream credibility.

UFC says it'll invest in year-round 3rd-party testing. http://t.co/0DCjgtmsrf

— Josh Gross (@yay_yee) August 28, 2014

In recent months, popular middleweight Chael Sonnen retired after failing multiple drug tests, while MMA icon Wanderlei Silva has had a series of strange drug testing-related misadventures. 

Current middleweight title contender Vitor Belfort also has had troubles surrounding performance-enhancing practices. 

Chael Sonnen
Chael SonnenEthan Miller/Getty Images

Several other fighters have failed drug tests in 2014. Less than a month ago, it was announced that Kevin Casey and Robert Drysdale both failed screenings after recent wins (Drysdale, a multi-time offender, was released from the UFC).

Just days ago, Brian Ortega's failed test was announced.

The list goes on. 

Meanwhile, Ratner said the drug testing will be random and occur on "a percentage" of the fighters. 

"The UFC will be randomly testing a percentage of fighters," Ratner said. "When we decide on this regiment, it's going to be a big cost, but it's well worth it when we do these out-of-competition tests."