USADA responds after Conor McGregor’s 2022 drug test history raises questions

Conor McGregor hasn’t been drug tested at all in 2022, but it appears there’s no conspiracy about why that is.

TSN recently reported McGregor is one of the only athletes on the UFC’s roster who hasn’t undergone a single test through September, according to the latest update of the athlete testing history in the testing program administered by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

USADA officials can’t comment on any specific athlete’s participation in the UFC’s anti-doping program or those who have been removed from the testing pool, but USADA officials offered a statement to MMA Fighting when asked about McGregor’s status.

“Once UFC athletes are enrolled in the testing program, they are subject to testing – even when not competing – unless they notify the UFC of their retirement, their contract is terminated, or they are otherwise removed from the program,” USADA officials wrote.

“In the event of an athlete’s return to the UFC, they are required to remain in the USADA testing pool for six months before they are permitted to compete. Similar to World Anti-Doping Agency rules, the UFC may grant an exemption to the six-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to the athlete, but in both cases under the UFC rules, the athlete must provide at least two negative samples before returning to competition. We do not comment on the testing pool status of any particular athlete.”

McGregor is currently sidelined after he suffered a broken leg in his previous outing against Dustin Poirier in July 2021. He’s not expected to return to action until sometime in 2023.

McGregor was one of the most tested athletes in 2021 with 11 samples taken over the course of the year, though he wasn’t tested in the fourth quarter, which came after his injury in the fight with Poirier.

According to USADA’s policy, all athletes enrolled in the UFC’s anti-doping program are subject to testing at any time, though “resources aimed at the detection of doping may be specifically targeted” rather than just random testing. In other words, McGregor is still subject to testing under the UFC’s anti-doping policy, but the decision on when and how often he’s tested remains up to USADA and is based on a variety of factors.

Per USADA’s website, the factors include:

  • Physical demands of the sport and possible performance-enhancing effect that doping may elicit
  • Available doping analysis statistics
  • Available research on doping trends
  • History of doping in the sport and/or discipline
  • Training periods and the competition calendar
  • Information received on possible doping practices

Currently, the Irish superstar is in the Dominican Republic, where he’s filming a role in the upcoming Road House reboot alongside Jake Gyllenhaal. McGregor has been posting photos and videos during the production where it appears the former two-division UFC champion has bulked up quite a bit.

Gyllenhaal packed on 28 pounds of muscle for his role in the boxing film Southpaw, engaging in intense training sessions for six to seven hours a day to prepare for production. The actor went from 147 pounds to 175 pounds inside six months to get ready for the film.

There’s no telling what physical requirements McGregor endured for his role, but with no plans to fight until 2023, he’ll likely have plenty of time to shed any extra weight gained for production before competing again in the UFC.

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