UFC announces changes to UFC Anti-Doping Policy

November 26, 2019

On Monday, the UFC announced changes to its UFC Anti-Doping Policy as it looks to address issues with contaminated samples.  In addition, it announced Thorne as a certified supplement maker.

The new policy also advises that athletes use only supplements that have been certified by USADA’s approved list of five different certification agencies.  If an athlete tests positive and its proved that the offending substance came from one of the certified supplements, no sanctions will be given to the athlete.

Now, instances of banned substances being found in contaminated supplements will be treated as “atypical” provided the levels sit below the stated thresholds on the UFC prohibited list.  It also validates IV infusions/injections over 100 mL which are now only permitted if they are determined to be medically justified and within the standard of care by a licensed physician and administered by a licensed medical professional.

Also of note, they’ve added a rule in which USADA, in its sole discretion, may elect not to impose an “enhanced sanction” for an athlete that has multiple violations.  The pertinent language is that “USADA’s sole and unreviewable discretion it was unlikely that one or more of the Athlete’s violations was intentional and/or based upon the Athlete’s provision of significant Substantial Assistance or Fulle and Complete Cooperation as determined by USADA.”  The section is screengrabbed below:

Notably, this rule seems to help those like Jon Jones that have had multiple violations in which those violators, under the prior UFC Anti-Doping Policy would have had an immediate suspension (according to the rules) of 2-4 years (dependent on specified or non-specified substance) based upon a second violation.  Obviously, in the past, the finders of fact have mitigated suspensions based on a number of factors but the standard was doubled for at least a second violation.

There may also be a Brock Lesnar rule as now athletes must disclose if they have used the fertility drug, clomiphene, prior to signing a contract with the UFC.  The drug is sometimes used for “off label” purposes as a male fertility drug or for use post-cycle following anabolic steroid use.  It also addresses issues with low testosterone.

The new policy adjustments also spell out that athletes cannot return to compete or start to compete with the UFC until they have been available to testing for 6 months or 1 year after using clomiphene.

Payout Perspective:

The good news is that the updated policy changes seem to take into account issues it has had with its previous iteration of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  Most importantly, it addresses the issues with contaminated supplements and recognizes the issues that occur.  Of course, one would have thought there would have been this foresight originally.  Yet, with the Nate Diaz and Jon Jones issues, the UFC needed to recalibrate its policy and balance it with atypical findings.

The only problem is that time is still needed from the time an adverse finding is discovered to when a finding can be made by USADA.  There does not seem to be a policy regarding imminent or emergent circumstances where an athlete has a fight upcoming.

Thorne Research, Inc. is a dietary supplement maker out of Sandpoint, Idaho.  It’s been around since 1984 but is relatively small with only 54 employees.  According to Crunchbase, their estimated revenue range is between $10M-$50M.  In comparison, its competitors in its industry have estimated revenues of $105.3M (Xymogen)and $345M (Metagenics) respectively. It has gone through just one venture funding round with Japanese company Mitsui & Co. as its sole investor.  The new agreement with the UFC, should boost the profile of the company (you may recall it sponsored UFC 244’s Embedded series and was talked about during the lead up to Diaz-Masvidal).

One would hope that the changes to the policy continue to evolve in order to correct issues related to tainting while effectively policing the athletes for performance enhancing drugs.

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