Yes, mixed martial arts (MMA) has a performance enhancing drug (PED) problem, but it isn't as bad as many say it is.
That's according to Andy Foster, director for the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), who stated on The MMA Hour that despite claims of an "epidemic" by some -- including Ultimate Fighting championship (UFC) color commentator Joe Rogan -- his evidence doesn't support that the majority of pro fighters are dabbling with PED's.
His words (via MMA Fighting):
"I mean, I do a lot of testing over here, so I look at all of the results that we get back, and certainly there is a problem. I think we all agree that there is a problem. Do I think that 90-percent of the fighters, or 80-percent, or even 50-percent of the fighters out there are doing performance enhancing drugs? I do not. I do not believe that. My evidence does not support that. You get a fight card of 24 athletes and you get one or two who pop -- the percentage of that is not that high. You even go to the out-of-competition stuff, and I think with the recent [results] -- very small numbers, mind you -- but what, 30-percent, or 38-percent, or whatever it was, who popped? I mean, that's certainly a problem. Certainly it's a problem, and I'm not saying it's not a problem, but it's not 90-percent of the people doing it."
Of course, the fact that there have been plenty of failed drug tests just three months into 2015 only added to peoples beliefs that the sport of MMA has been infested with cheaters who are just now getting popped thanks to out-of-competition testing.
And with UFC's new proposed plan to ramp up its testing efforts, its likely the number offenders will only increase. But it won't come without a financial cost, as Foster says UFC will have to dish out millions of dollars if it wants the new program to work.
"Certainly I think they can. With any new program, they'll have to get the logistics in order, but certainly they can. It's going to be expensive, I would think. I know it's going to be expensive. I would guess that would be about two millions dollars. Two or three millions dollars. Maybe two million. Depends on how many times you want to test them, but that seems about right. Obviously (it also matters) what you want to test them for. I don't know what they're paying and all of that. I just know what our contract says and how much it costs and these different types of things. Depends on what you want to test them for. If you add blood to the mix as well, which I assume they do, it certainly increases the cost of the test. I'm not a lab guy. I've never taken a performance enhancing drug and only have looked at the studies, so I don't know. I don't know if [fight night urine tests are] easy to beat or not. Maybe they are. But I think out-of-competition (tests are) good. That way people know that they can't take [PEDs] during their training, so I think that's important. I think increasing the penalties are important. Because what you want to create is an environment of deterrence and a clean sport."
Money, according to UFC president Dana White and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, won't be an issue, as they are determined to clean up the sport at all costs.
However, MMA's drug problem is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.