NEW YORK NY - JANUARY 13: Lorenzo Fertitta UFC Chairman and President speaks during a press conference to announce commitment to bring UFC to Madison Square Garden and New York State at Madison Square Garden on January 13 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
This is certainly interesting timing.
On the heels of Strikeforce light heavyweight Muhammad Lawal failing a drug test for anabolic steroids for his Jan. 7 bout against Lorenz Larkin, the UFC has issued a press release today announcing a new policy effective immediately that dictates pre-contract drug testing for all newcomers to Zuffa promotions.
From the release:
Continuing a commitment to the health and safety of its athletes, the Ultimate Fighting Championship® announced today that all potential UFC® and STRIKEFORCE® signees will be subject to a mandatory pre-contract screening for performance-enhancing drugs. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, all incoming athletes will be tested prior to finalizing a contract with the world's premier mixed martial arts organization.
UFC and STRIKEFORCE already work closely with the most prestigious regulators and athletic commissions to ensure the healthy and safety of athletes prior to competition. This includes contestants on The Ultimate Fighter®, all of whom are pre-screened for performance-enhancing drugs prior to participating on the longest-running sports reality show on television.
All current UFC and STRIKEFORCE athletes will continue to be screened for performance-enhancing drugs, both prior to competition and at random, in accordance with athletic commission rules and regulations.
This is, of course, a necessary step for the world's largest fight promotion and frankly, something it should have been doing all along. Then again, it's fair to question to what point and purpose there is to giving away the fact that if the UFC comes calling with a contract offer, a drug test is coming right alongside it.
After all, only a truly random drug test is going to turn up offenders.
With Lawal and Cristiane Santos, two prominent Strikeforce fighters, both having failed drug tests within the span of a month, the need to do something about steroid use in MMA is obvious. The UFC will undoubtedly garner some solid PR with this press release but will it truly help weed out those who are looking to gain a competitive edge?
Maniacs, what's your take on the matter?