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UFC slams ‘garbage, trash’ Usada statement on Conor McGregor

McGregor has returned to Usada’s drug-testing pool, leading the organisation to end its partnership with the UFC over the ‘untenable’ situation

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Friday 13 October 2023 10:11 BST
Tommy Fury's father headbutts glass at KSI press conference

The UFC has hit out at the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) for its statement on Conor McGregor this week, calling the agency’s words ‘false’, ‘garbage’ and ‘trash’.

McGregor returned to the Usada testing pool on Sunday (8 October), as he prepares for his first fight since suffering a broken leg in July 2021, when he lost to Dustin Poirier for the second time in a row.

However, Usada’s announcement of McGregor’s return to the pool was accompanied by a revelation that the agency would be ending its partnership with the UFC in January. Usada CEO Travis Tygart said the relationship between both parties had become ‘untenable’, and that he could not be sure whether the UFC would honour its stipulations when it comes to McGregor.

In order to compete in the UFC, athletes must have been in the Usada pool for six months while returning at least two negative test results and zero positives. The UFC and McGregor hinted earlier this year, however, that Usada might grant the former champion an exemption. Tygart took exception to that suggestion this week.

Now, the UFC’s Senior Vice-President of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Notitzky, and the promotion’s CBO, Hunter Campbell, have taken aim at Usada over this week’s developments.

Campbell said at a press conference on Thursday (12 October): “At no point in time did Jeff, myself, or any other UFC representative, Dana [White, UFC president].... Not a single person ever went to Usada and told them anything other than Conor McGregor would reenter the program when he was healthy.

“And in doing so, we would require him to be in the program for six months; there would be no exception to the rule. And what I said to Travis on multiple occasions, including the call on Monday, was there would never be a situation where Conor would fight until he had been in the program for six months, and my words were: ‘I don’t give a s*** if he has 37 clean tests.’

“[Conor has] conducted himself with integrity and honesty. He’s done everything right, and he’s – as you can imagine – very upset at the moment for the way that they’ve sort of used him. And they’ve never done that with any other athlete in history, and I think that’s a really important point.

McGregor ahead of his loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018 (Getty Images)

“I’ll say it one last time: What they’ve done to him is disgusting. And for an entity that holds themselves out to have a level of honour and integrity, using him as a media vehicle to advance a fake narrative is disturbing, disgusting, and I think they have some legitimate legal liability that they should be very concerned with.

“They use him the way they have because he has allowed them to get a level of media attention that they can’t get on their own. Usada puts some s*** out, no one cares. You connect Conor to it, and all of a sudden it explodes, whether it triggers the algorithms or whatever. And truthfully, that’s why I’m most disappointed about the way that they’ve handled the last 48 hours. They used an athlete as a vehicle to advance a false narrative. I think it’s incredibly unethical – incredibly.”

Meanwhile, Novitzky alleged: “The narrative that Usada put out yesterday is false, it’s garbage, trash. I can’t sit up here and come up with enough adjectives [for] what they said and what that’s done to this programme currently.” The UFC also said it would move forward with Drug Free Sport, which works with the NBA, NFL and MLB.

Usada CEO Tygart told The Independent: “We stand by our statement and our credibility.” He later added, in response to Dana White criticising Usada’s initial statement: “Bluster and bravado is no substitute for clean sport, a level playing field for all competitors, and the health and wellbeing of all athletes.”

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