USADA Ends Relationship With UFC After Conor McGregor Re-Enters Testing Pool
The Notorious is back…and USADA is out.
A few days after it was confirmed that Conor McGregor re-entered the drug-testing pool, USADA CEO Travis Tygart confirmed that the global anti-doping agency is no longer in league with the UFC.
— USADA (@usantidoping) October 11, 2023
“We can confirm that Conor McGregor has re-entered the USADA testing pool as of Sunday, October 8, 2023,” Tygart said in a statement made on the USADA website. “We do not currently know whether the UFC will ultimately honor the six-month or longer requirement because, as of January 1, 2024, USADA will no longer be involved with the UFC Anti-Doping Program.”
USADA and UFC Split Ways Over Conor McGregor
The expectation was for McGregor to return to the Octagon to face his TUF coaching rival Michael Chandler before the end of the year. However, after McGregor missed the USADA deadline to compete in 2023, rumors circulated that he may be granted an exemption.
According to a USADA statement from December 2022 in regards to TJ Dillashaw, “the UFC may grant an exemption to the six-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances … the athlete must provide at least two negative samples before returning to competition.”
This exemption exists exactly for fighters who suffer grueling injuries like the leg break McGregor endured at UFC 264. Fighters who are recovering from severe injuries may get exemptions for medical purposes. Despite this, USADA and the UFC couldn’t see eye-to-eye on McGregor – right after the Irish superstar re-entered the pool.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) October 11, 2023
McGregor shared his thank you letter from USADA to his Twitter – setting the MMA world on fire. Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for a “Notorious” return to action.
According to the statement from Tygart, “the relationship between USADA and UFC became untenable given the statements made by UFC leaders and others questioning USADA’s principled stance that McGregor not be allowed to fight without being in the testing pool for at least six months.”
It is unclear whether or not the exemption was ever on the table for McGregor – but considering it exists for moments like these, it’s surprising that USADA is making the decision to cut ties with the UFC.
USADA will continue to drug-test for the promotion until their contract ends on December 31, 2023.