Ariel Helwani Blasts USADA Over Dan Hooker’s Cheating Claim Against Makhachev: ‘Their Reputation is At Stake Here’

Ariel Helwani has put USADA and the UFC on the spot.

Helwani Usada
Helwani Usada - Image via @Danhangman Instagram/@MMAFighting Youtube
  • Ariel Helwani weighed in on Dan Hooker’s cheating allegations against UFC 284 winner Islam Makhachev
  • The MMA journalist is demanding an explanation from USADA and the UFC about the matter

Shortly after Islam Makhachev beat Alexander Volkanovski at UFC 284, Dan Hooker caused quite a stir after he accused the reigning lightweight champion of cheating by using I.V., which has been banned by the UFC. Despite the buzz, USADA seemed not that bothered and MMA journalist Ariel Helwani is not happy about it.

It deserves an explanation

Discussing the subject on The MMA Hour, Helwani pointed out that regardless of what people think of Hooker’s accusation, USADA and the UFC should be responsible enough to address it. For Helwani, there are a lot of questions that need answers and the entire matter is bigger than most people think.

“But there’s questions: When did he do it? How many times did he do it? Did he do it before the weigh-ins [or] after the weigh-ins? There’s a difference between the two… Did he do it at all? So there are multiple questions that need to be answered… Accusation or not, people have to answer now to these accusations… USADA needs to figure this out like they know about it at this point, their reputation is at stake here,” Helwani began.

“People need to answer for this. Honestly… Dan hooker should answer for this, USADA needs to answer about this, the UFC should probably [answer] like this is a massive accusation,” he added.

A rematch or suspension is inevitable

It didn’t take long for Makhachev’s team to respond to Hooker’s claim. Makhachev’s co-manager said it’s “completely BS” and “The Hangman” was just being a loser yearning for some attention.

Helwani thinks that even though Hooker has no proof, USADA should at least let the people know what their stance on the matter is. He also stressed that there’s a need for the truth to be told because it will determine whether or not a rematch or suspension should be done.

“If it is proven to be true… If there is a shred of doubt involved in all of this, maybe they need to run it back. If there is some truth to this, we’re talking at like at best an immediate rematch, at worst we’re talking a potential suspension which would be catastrophic,” Helwani explained.

“You hope that this is being looked at now. If it’s looked at and they find out that it’s total BS like that needs to be said. They need to clear themselves because right now. There’s a spotlight on USADA right now. There has been rightly or wrongly, some controversy, shred of doubt. Something has been thrown out there so either clear it up or say ‘We’re looking into it’ or say ‘We don’t want to comment something’ because that’s a big freaking deal,” he continued.

Things need to be worked out between the UFC and USADA

Helwani also observed that there has been a significant reduction in the number of suspensions and fight cancellations over the past three years, and he believes this trend may be due to a lack of transparency in the anti-doping process. Helwani’s comments on the Hooker-Makhachev situation suggest that he has concerns about the effectiveness of the UFC and USADA partnership and the quality of work that it produces.

“Let’s be honest, there haven’t been as many high-profile infraction, suspensions in the last three years as there were in the first three years I think we could all agree with that we all remember it felt like every single week someone of high stature was being [suspended]… You could say maybe the fighters are getting smarter or you could say they’re not being as strict or you could say they were like you know, we’re losing out on millions of dollars here by these fights being canceled at the last minute like, ‘We need to figure this out.’ Who knows,” Helwani questioned.

“I feel personally like the relationship between the USADA organization and the UFC is a lot cozier than it should be if it’s truly independent, the UFC can’t be paying them, it can’t… I mean that’s a conflict,” he added.

USADA has previously stated that competing fighters who have been required by a licensed physician to use I.V. are the only exemption in the UFC’s protocol. As for Hooker’s claim, USADA and the UFC have yet to comment.  

Makhachev successfully defended his lightweight title at UFC 284 by securing a unanimous decision win over Volkanovski. However, the UFC did not make him the new No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the official rankings.

Published on February 15, 2023 at 12:42 pm
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