UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. Photograph by: Sam Morris , Las Vegas Sun
Joining an ever-expanding chorus, heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos believes the UFC should implement a more stringent drug testing policy.
Dos Santos has spoken out against the use of performance-enhancing drugs vigilantly ever since scheduled UFC 146 opponent Alistair Overeem tested positive for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone level. Dos Santos praised the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s efforts in finding the discrepancy in Overeem’s levels but still thinks it’s too easy for fighters to cheat by using banned substances.
He envisions a day when it’s significantly more difficult.
“As far as testing goes, it should be enforced,” dos Santos said through a translator in a recent interview. “It should be expanded. I think there should be more tests — blood tests, not just urine. The urine doesn’t test everything.”
With Overeem’s situation as the catalyst, drug testing is a hot-button issue heading into Saturday’s UFC 146 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Overeem received a nine-month suspension for the failed random drug test, prompting Frank Mir to fill in against dos Santos in Saturday’s main event.
“I don’t judge Overeem,” dos Santos said. “That’s between him and the Nevada Athletic Commission. If they decided he should be suspended for nine months, that’s the right decision. I hope after he fulfills his suspension, he comes back strong and comes back clean.”
The UFC appears to agree with dos Santos more than ever before. As recently as two months ago, UFC President Dana White scoffed at the suggestion of more testing. He referred to mixed martial artists as “the most tested athletes in sports.”
But White has changed his mind at least slightly. He recently said he was open to new ideas.
In a Q&A with the Los Angeles Times on Monday, White revealed developing plans for a new system.
“We’re going to do our own testing, order these guys into (a lab); we’re sorting it out now,” White said. “You have to do this to save the sport. You can’t have these guys fighting on this stuff.”
The UFC would conceivably be able to test any of its fighters randomly. Nevada is currently the only state with a commission that’s capable of random, out-of-competition testing — the method in which they caught Overeem after a March press conference.
Most commissions only test fighters within the direct proximity of their fight, which dos Santos thinks can enable them to cycle on and off of performance enhancers without detection.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the hard-working, dedicated professional fighters to be put against fighters who use these substances,” dos Santos said. “I think a lot of PEDs don’t just make a guy stronger, but they practically make him immune to receiving blows and punches. The guy can take a lot more of a beating without it really affecting him. It’s grossly unfair.”
Dos Santos didn’t foresee more testing interfering with training regimens of fighters. He had barely thought about any of this before Overeem’s failed test put him in the crossfire.
Dos Santos said it was difficult to prepare for UFC 146 during a three-week stretch when he was unsure if he’d face Overeem or a replacement.
Overeem could return by the end of this year. Many expect the UFC to immediately re-schedule his bout with dos Santos.
Dos Santos wouldn’t object to the booking but would prefer the UFC hold Overeem to a higher testing standard.
“If the UFC decides he deserves to have a title shot right after a nine-month suspension for elevated testosterone levels, then that’s what I’ll do,” dos Santos said. “It’s not a fight I want, but it’s not a fight I’d shy away from.”
By Case Keefer, Las Vegas Sun
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