The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) confirmed that the UFC anti-doping partner will have doping control officers (DCOs) present for the UFC’s upcoming ‘Fight Island’ shows, USADA spokesman Adam Woullard told The Body Lock.
Beginning on July 11, the UFC will produce a series of events from Yas Island, a popular tourism destination, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The overseas venue, labeled “Fight Island” by UFC President Dana White, serves as a hub for the MMA giant to book fights between and including foreign fighters, who otherwise were largely unable to enter the U.S. during the restrictions placed on travel by the U.S. and other countries in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For several weeks after White’s announcement that the UFC had secured an island on which to promote fights, much was unknown about the venue, including its location, the testing regiment fighters to which fighters would be subject, and whether USADA officers would be present at the venue.
In an email to The Body Lock, Woullard confirmed that USADA “will indeed have DCOs testing on Fight Island.”
USADA’s doping control officers are tasked with collecting samples from athletes in order to test for banned substances as part of USADA’s partnership with the UFC.
In March, USADA announced a series of measures aimed at protecting DCOs and athletes during the collection process as part of the entity’s response to COVID-19.
The measures outlined by USADA are included below:
- “Where feasible, DCOs will use personal protective gear, including mask and gloves. DCOs will also have hand sanitizer for use during the processing of the sample. Please keep in mind that many communities have a shortage of these materials that are needed by the healthcare system.
- As always, we ask that both athletes and DCOs wash their hands before testing occurs.
- We encourage athletes and DCOs to maintain a six-foot distance during the process.
- During this time, no USADA DCO who has any sign of sickness or otherwise meets any of the risk criteria identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be collecting samples,” – USADA’s March 17 statement.
The UFC’s first ‘Fight Island’ show is the blockbuster UFC 251: Usman vs. Burns event, which features three standout title fights, scheduled for July 11.
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.