USADA ends partnership with UFC amid Conor McGregor controversy Inbox

CEO Travis Tygart announced Wednesday that the United States Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, has decided to terminate its partnership with the UFC in 2024, citing the Conor McGregor controversy.

This move came after discussions for an extension failed, and the decision was made after Tygart confirmed McGregor's return to drug testing. The partnership will conclude on January 1, 2024.

These announcements followed months of uncertainty about McGregor's return to the Octagon. In a written statement, Tygart conveyed that McGregor should not be allowed to engage in a fight until he has completed two negative tests and spent a minimum of six months in the testing program.

"The rules also allow USADA to keep someone in the testing pool longer before competing based on their declarations upon entry in the pool and testing results," the statement further reads.

Tygart explained that despite a positive and productive meeting in May 2023 regarding a contract renewal, the UFC reversed its decision and informed USADA on Monday that it was pursuing a different course of action.

Meanwhile, McGregor and UFC CEO Dana White have been teasing a comeback for "The Notorious" for more than a year. McGregor coached on "The Ultimate Fighter 31" alongside Michael Chandler, who was named his opponent for his return. However, despite the show concluding in August, there is still no fight scheduled.

USADA, UFC's relationship becomes untenable, Tygart says

Tygart shared that the relationship between USADA and the UFC had become unworkable due to UFC officials and others opposing USADA's stance regarding McGregor's eligibility to fight.

"One UFC commentator echoed this, recently declaring that USADA should not oversee the UFC program since we held firm to the six-month rule involving McGregor, and since we do not allow fighters without an approved medical basis to use performance-enhancing drugs like experimental, unapproved peptides or testosterone for healing or injuries simply to get back in the Octagon," he said.

The UFC and USADA have been partners since 2015, with the anti-doping agency testing UFC athletes both in and out of competition. Tygart expressed his disappointment regarding the end of the partnership.

"We are disappointed for UFC athletes, who are independent contractors who rely on our independent, gold-standard global program to protect their rights to a clean, safe, and fair Octagon," Tygart said. "The UFC's move imperils the immense progress made within the sport under USADA's leadership.

Tygart stressed that USADA values the long-term health and safety of fighters and ensures fair competition more than short-term profits that might harm clean athletes.

"USADA is proud of the work we've done over the past eight years to clean up the UFC, and we will continue to provide our unparalleled service to UFC athletes through the remainder of our current contract, which ends December 31, 2023. As always, we will continue to uphold the rights and voices of clean athletes in all sport," he said.

At the time of writing, the UFC has not made any public comments regarding the development and whether the promotion will continue its drug-testing efforts beyond the end