In a significant turn of events, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has announced the return of UFC superstar Conor McGregor to the drug-testing pool, signaling a potential comeback for the fighter. However, the backdrop of this announcement carries a twist, as CEO Travis Tygart revealed that USADA’s long-standing partnership with the UFC will come to an end on January 1, 2024.
The decision to part ways comes in the wake of a complex situation involving McGregor, the UFC’s marquee name. USADA prioritizes fighters’ long-term health, safety, and maintaining a level playing field. This stance places clean athletes above short-term profits, as emphasized by Tygart.
McGregor had temporarily removed himself from the USADA drug-testing pool after suffering a fractured leg during a bout with Dustin Poirier in July 2021. Per UFC’s anti-doping policy overseen by USADA, a fighter returning to the drug-testing pool must complete a mandatory six-month period and pass two drug tests before resuming competition.
USADA was resolute in upholding this rule for McGregor, making it clear that there would be no exemption. The decision prompted debate and discussions within the UFC, notably from its leaders.
The situation has also drawn commentary from UFC president Dana White and color commentator Joe Rogan, both questioning USADA’s policies. White even hinted at the possibility of McGregor’s return before the six-month period, which added to the uncertainty surrounding the case.
As a result, the partnership between USADA and the UFC will conclude at the start of 2024, leaving the door open for McGregor to potentially fight before the designated six-month duration ends.
The move has raised concerns about the future of UFC athletes who rely on USADA’s stringent anti-doping program. USADA’s exit poses challenges to maintaining a clean, safe, and fair Octagon, putting into question the progress achieved under its leadership.