As proof that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) isn't taking it's new war on drugs lightly, the Las Vegas, Nevada-based mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion recently announced that it has hired Jeff Novitzky as Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance.
To lead the clean initiative education program, ensuring that every fighter on UFC's roster fights with his or her natural ability and not with the assistance of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs).
In other words, he's going to make sure everyone is fighting on a level playing field.
From the press release:
A federal agent for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2008, Novitzky led investigations into companies suspected of illegal distribution of dietary supplements and designer steroids. Prior to joining the USFDA, Novitzky was a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service in their Criminal Investigation Department, where he oversaw and investigated some of the highest-profile performance enhancing drug (PED) cases in professional sports. A former collegiate athlete who played basketball for San Jose State University from 1989-91, Novitzky graduated with a degree in accounting. UFC is committed year-round to the health, safety, and education of its athletes. Led by Novitzky, UFC will continue to invest in state of the art sports science studies, further develop its out-of-competition PED testing policy and enrich its education and prevention programs.
According to UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein, the hiring of Novitzki gets the promotion one step closer to getting the recognition of having the most comprehensive anti-doping policy in the sports world.
"There is no bigger advocate of clean professional sports than Jeff Novitzky. When we announced our commitment for an enhanced drug testing program in February, we wanted to ensure that the best people would be helping move this program forward and Jeff will lead the UFC in developing the most comprehensive anti-doping policy in professional sports."
As for Novitzky, he is confident he will assist UFC in reaching that goal.
"I am thrilled to be joining a world-class organization like UFC, that is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure all of its athletes are competing in a clean sport. I am confident that UFC will be able to create a new gold standard testing program and implement it so a sustainable and level playing field is provided for all athletes."
His name may sound familiar to some of you, as Novitzki played a huge part in the now-infamous BALCO investigation that uncovered the doping scandal that had big sports stars attached to it such as Barry Bonds and Bill Romanowski.
He also investigated Lance Armstrong and his cycling teams during their drug scandals and was a key player in the perjury trial of baseball legend Roger Clemens.
As for BALCO founder Victor Conte, he was less than amused with the news:
A joke? RT @KevinI: Wow...UFC just hired Jeff Novitzky as VP of athlete health & performance. Guy who investigated Barry Bonds/BALCO case— Victor Conte (@VictorConte) April 6, 2015
It just got real.