Updated: Jul 29, 2018
The UFC in an attempt to clean up the sport and put everyone on a level playing field employed the services of the U.S Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Their role was to conduct testing of all competing athletes on the UFC roster before and after competition, along with random screening.
We instantly saw noticeable differences in several fighters, one of the biggest names being Vitor Belfort.
Vitor had 14 fights between 2007 and 2015 on different promotions, winning 11 of those fights, mostly by TKO or KO - only losing to Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Chris Weidman - so his record was very impressive.
Since 2015 he had 5 further fights in the UFC, only picking up one win. His style and appearance changed dramatically.
People have argued that "father time" just caught up with him and that's why his performance dipped, and his appearance changed. Others will argue without the performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) he was a different fighter.
It appears that USADA is working effectively and we are seeing a lot of fighters getting caught out for using PED's . However, there have also been a lot of questionable suspensions, most of which have been handed out without proof of the fighters guilt.
After a few of the fighters have been suspended for the use of PED's they have hit back claiming a tainted supplement was to blame for the results of the failed drugs test. Even after USADA have investigated the matter and concluded the supplements the fighter is using are tainted or contaminated - they are still handing out lengthy bans for fighters. Is this fair and reasonable? Possibley not.
Anderson Silva has recently accepted a ban of 1 year, which he has nearly carried out, after it was determined his supplements were tainted or contaminated. However, what effect has that had on The Spider? Well he recently opened up on an MMA podcast saying he's lost his sponsorship, his legacy, respect and the ability to fight and earn a living - all because he was banned before the full facts were obtained.
Another fighter and legend in the MMA world, Josh Barnett, talked about his experience with USADA on the Joe Rogan podcast.
Josh explained how early on evidence was presented to USADA but they ceased communication handing out a suspension. Josh wanted to appeal the process and was put off by USADA's lawyers. It wasn't until the arbitrator contacted Josh Barnett's management team offering to continue with his appeal did the decision get over turned and it was agreed a tainted supplement was to blame - but at what cost to Josh Barnett, hes lost time where he could have competed, labelled as a cheat.
I think the UFC had to do something about the drug problem in the sport and I think USADA has acted quickly in cleaning up the octagon - but I think they need to have a hard look at themselves and ask if all the suspension they have carried out have been necessary and fair.
I appreciate they have a list of approved suppliers for supplement, but why should the fights be restricted to these brands which are more than likely pay USADA for their endorsement?
I think in the event there is a drugs test fail USADA needs to do further tests and investigations before publically suspending the fighter. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Once you tarnish someone with the stigma "cheater" it sticks for life.
Let me know your thoughts - thanks for reading.