UFC Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novitzky, has gone in-depth on testing improvements that will be made once the USADA partnership is officially over.
Fans were in for quite a doozy this week. Beyond the wackiness of changes made to the UFC 294 card, USADA announced that it will no longer be the official anti-doping agency of the UFC effective January 2024. In its place will be Drug Free Sport International. The statement issued by USADA CEO Travis Tygart did not go over well with the UFC brass. The statement was jarring enough that the UFC is threatening legal action against its lame duck drug testing partner.
Jeff Novitzky On New Drug Testing System Under Drug Free Sport
During a recent media scrum, Jeff Novitzky discussed changes being made once the new anti-doping system is in place. The drug testing system will be aided by Dr. Dan Eichner.
“Dr. Dan Eichner runs a sports medicine, testing, and research laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah, also known as SMRTL,” Novitzky said. “One of two United States WADA accredited anti-doping laboratories, the highest accreditation standard in anti-doping in the world. Those of you that cover and follow athletic commissions and athletic commission meetings, specifically Nevada and California, know that Dr. Eichner is the most respected scientist in this space. He will be our science advisor.”
Novitzky explained how blood testing will be significantly more beneficial to UFC fighters than it had been under USADA.
“We’re gonna increase special analysis testing from what USADA does now,” Novitzky said. “This includes EPO testing, in my estimation, one of the most dangerous drugs in our sport. When we launch this program January 1st, we will conduct EPO special analysis at the highest rate of any sport federation in the world. We will have innovative blood collection devices and move away from phlebotomy for all blood testing. We’ll use the leeching device called Tasso+. Right off the bat, we will eliminate the need for venous blood draw and phlebotomy from our athletes, and I’ll tell you what, right now, that comes as a relief to many of our athletes who are deathly afraid of needles and blood draws. They’re gonna love this.”
Novitzky also said he was ensured by Dr. Eichner that everything done with venous blood draws can be achieved with Tasso+.