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Surprise! Urine testing sucks

There was a Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing yesterday and while part of it was devoted to Brock Lesnar’s lawyers and the UFC’s lawyers requesting a non-Mazzagatti referee for Lesnar / Carwin (I’ll revisit that story later today), the actually important part that very few people covered was the NSAC’s discussion on their drug testing for MMA and boxing. Ivan Trembow has a quite thorough description of what went down:

The most anticipated speaker of the day, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency head Travis Tygart, is testifying now. His testimony could best be described as very politely explaining the shortcomings of the NSAC’s drug testing system.

Tygart emphasized that you need to have both urine testing and blood testing in order to have a legitimate drug testing system that can detect various different kinds of banned substances.

The line of questioning by the NSAC’s commissioners seemed to be trying to focus on the limits of blood testing and the things that it can’t detect (ie, defending the status quo of Nevada’s urine-only testing), but Tygart kept emphasizing that if you only have one or the other (only urine testing or only blood testing), you’re missing out on detecting entire groups of banned substances.

Tygart added that even if the NSAC were to give itself the authority to order blood tests on fighters and then rarely use that authority, that would still be a big step in the right direction. Tygart said that just the fact that the NSAC would have the authority to order blood tests would act as a deterrent to cheaters, and it would be up to the NSAC to decide how frequently or infrequently these blood tests would be ordered.

Another point that Tygart made is that when a fighter is ordered to take an out-of-competition drug test under the NSAC’s current system and the fighter has 24 or 48 hours to submit a urine sample from the time when they are notified, that is plenty of time for any drug-savvy fighter to beat a drug test. Under WADA and USADA standards, athletes must either submit to a drug test immediately, or the athlete must not leave the sight of the inspector until the athlete has submitted a sample.

So to strip out the polite language: piss tests aren’t good enough, random piss testing is also easily beatable, but just adding the possibility that blood tests MIGHT be used would be enough to seriously deter a lot of steroid cheaters and potential steroid cheaters.

You’d think the obvious reply to all this would be “Well shit, we better start working on moving to do blood testing”, but don’t forget these commissions are government bodies and aren’t even competent enough to change the paper in the photocopier let alone change how drug testing is going to work. The meeting ended on a ‘food for thought’ note and I assume that’s all we’ll hear about it for the next year or so.

I hate to agree with Floyd Mayweather and Josh Koscheck because they’re gigantic dildos who called for blood testing as a duck tactic and as a shit talking strategy. But yes: if the combat sports world is serious about stopping guys from using performance enhancing drugs, they’re gonna have to move past the obsolete pee only method and start getting some blood.