Exclusive: VADA Says Education is Key to MMA Doping Discussion
By Michael Hatamoto
Professional sports have been plagued with performance enhancing drug (PED) controversies, and MMA has been hit with some of its own dramatic doping-related news stories over the years.
MMA fans tend to enjoy being blissfully oblivious to doping, while promoters often deflect responsibilities and say it’s up to the athletic commissions. Many athletic commissions must fight for budget funding, and the stink of politics can cause major concern about ethics.
Some fighters have requested additional outside testing – carried out following strict World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards – to show fans they are clean fighters. However, sometimes that’s complicated for various reasons, which recently happened between two fighters in a highly-anticipated upcoming fight.
UFC welterweight Georges St. Pierre and No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks recently engaged in a war of words regarding VADA and WADA. Unfortunately, many MMA outlets – and fighters along with fans – seem to be confused regarding anti-doping efforts.
Here is what Dr. Margaret Goodman, VADA President, told Full Contact Fighter:
“Education remains the key. It astounds me with all the media attention regarding PEDs and PED testing, many journalists are inaccurate and are actually confusing the issue. This is counterproductive to all – including the fighters and fans. One example occurred regarding the role of WADA. WADA does not and never has been a testing organization for PEDs. They set the standards. So many athletes have little knowledge regarding what is legal and what isn’t. So, yes, education is needed for all.”
Instead of admitting there is a doping problem in MMA, there seems to be just as many people willing to simply bury their heads in the sand. It’s an issue that Dr. Goodman recognizes and acknowledges is happening.
“I think we are at the point where MMA companies and commissions that regulate the sport are still balking at recognizing the problem. They are sadly still resorting to smoke and mirrors in attacking the issue straight on. I get why: it can translate into less fights, less fighters, and money lost. Hopefully more MMA athletes will apply pressure. There is no reason why the costs can’t be covered – especially if large numbers of athletes are in a stringent program.”
It’s a confusing time for MMA fans hoping for a clean sport, because doping practices have become sophisticated and seems like testing is always at least one step behind.
Full Contact Fighter previously spoke with Dr. Goodman regarding VADA and its influence on MMA, and while the problem clearly hasn’t gone away, there is a lot of good work being done to keep the sport clean.
More from our conversation with Dr. Goodman later this week..