Right after agreeing to fight Rory MacDonald as part of some strange personal mission to ‘get back’ at GSP’s trainers at Tristar, BJ Penn started talking about special drug testing. Specifically, VADA testing, which has been making waves – and cancelling fights – in boxing lately. To avoid the possibility of the fight getting scrapped, BJ offered up an interesting idea: results only be released after the fight.
“VADA contacted me to talk about doing their testing,” Penn said at a recent media session, which MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) attended. “Right away, I was for it. But I was talking to them, and we were talking about the process.
“This isn’t an amateur sport. What I expressed to VADA was that results need to be released after the fight, but VADA wants to do it before the fight, and I said, ‘I’m not trying to put the UFC’s fight in danger by doing that.’ I said, ‘What’s the problem? Let’s do the results after the fight.'”
Penn first discussed VADA’s offer in June, accepting the deal and challenging MacDonald to do the same. However, Penn assumed the results of the test would be held private until after the Sept. 22 matchup, which takes place at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre. While some pundits have openly questioned why Penn expected such confidentiality prior to the fight, Penn said the reasoning is simple: It’s not his place to potentially endanger a bout he isn’t personally promoting.
“It doesn’t do me any good to train for three months, and I don’t get to fight,” Penn said. “It doesn’t do MacDonald any good, and it doesn’t do any good for (UFC co-owners) Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta to put millions of dollars into marketing a fight that could get canceled.
“I’m not trying to put any pressure on Dana White. He has nothing to do with this. When the anti-doping agency can come on friendly terms and be more welcome with a company like the UFC, I think that’s what they should do, and I don’t know why they’re waiting and pushing this to take longer.”
Personally, I think Penn is a genius here. Everyone is scared sh*tless of proper testing because of the number of big fights it’d probably ruin. We already live in a world where taking testosterone is legal so long as you show up with a doctor’s note and ask nicely. Why not agree that drug testing stays under wraps until after a fight happens? If the testing is actually effective, it’s a worthwhile compromise. And after a while, fighters might start to realize there’s no way to get away with it and straight up stop juicing. That’s the goal, isn’t it? Tito Ortiz gets it right (call Ripley’s):
“I think we’re sending the wrong message out to fans and kids who want to be UFC fighters and mixed martial arts fighters because if they’re not able to be on an even field, well, now they can do some type of supplement to enhance them to become on a higher level and able to push themselves and recover faster. They can push themselves harder during the fight. What happens to their mind? … It’s just too bad this epidemic is starting to happen.”
Normally I’m not a big fan of “Won’t someone THINK OF THE CHILDREN???” but at this point what we’re really talking about here is the next generation of MMA fighters. There’s a culture of steroids in MMA right now that is getting out of control to the point where the attitude becomes ‘Well, you have to do it if you want to compete professionally.’ Bring in proper testing that is designed to catch cheaters without hobbling the sport, and maybe we can change that.