The United States Anti-Doping Agency, otherwise known as USADA, has issued a statement in response to comments made by Conor McGregor regarding their testing protocols. McGregor, anticipating a 2023 return to the sport, made a special appearance on an episode of Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour on March 15.
Conor McGregor ‘Not Rushing’ Back Into Competition
In the closing minutes of the show, Helwani was keen to know about McGregor’s status in the USADA testing pool, “Much has been made of this USADA [testing] pool, are we back in finally? Because that’s when the clock starts for the comeback, right?”
McGregor replied, “I’m not rushing [anything], right? There’s hurdles and whatnot, but we’re in contact, we’re in constant communication, and there’s an interview scheduled and [a meeting], and then it will be official. But the six-month thing, what they had said was, two clean tests, and off I go. That’s why I’m not assuming… It won’t be too long.”
Helwani refers to the fact that McGregor, controversially, opted to leave the USADA testing pool for a long period of time after breaking his leg in the Dustin Poirier trilogy match. This choice was met with criticism, with many believing McGregor left the testing pool in order to recover quicker with the help of prohibited medications.
McGregor repeats the same claims he made in a Tweet from November 2022.
USADA Releases Statement, Thwarts McGregor’s Early Return Hopes
In response to McGregor’s claims, USADA has issued a public statement:
“While we meet with all athletes who enter or re-enter the testing pool, we do not currently have a meeting set with Conor and, as of today, we have not received notice of his coming out of retirement to compete
The UFC rules are clear that, in addition to two negative tests, an athlete must make themself available for testing for six months before returning to competition. This is a fair way to ensure an athlete does not use the retirement status to gain an unfair advantage by using prohibited substances during the retirement period, which would enhance their performance unfairly if they ultimately decide to return to competition. While the rules permit the UFC to make an exception to the six-month rule in exceptional circumstances, when the strict application of the rule would be manifestly unfair to the athlete, our position, which we have made clear, is that Conor should be in the testing pool for the full six-month period.”
To condense their message, USADA is saying that they do not have any meetings scheduled with Conor as he has mentioned. Nor have they been notified of his choice to unretire and re-enter the testing pool. They also elaborate on McGregor’s claims of “two clean tests,” going on to say that an athlete must make themself available for six months before returning to competition.
All of the information regarding USADA’s registered testing pool regulations can be found in their digital handbook.
What Does This Mean for Conor McGregor?
USADA’s statement implies McGregor hasn’t been a part of the testing pool, at least as late as the MMA Hour interview, which took place on March 15.
In theory, if McGregor applied for the testing pool on March 15, he would need six months and two clean tests to begin competing again, which would place his first fight, at a minimum, on September 15. This would only be applicable if McGregor didn’t qualify for ‘exceptional circumstances’ as USADA mentions.
This doesn’t go against McGregor’s predicted return date of “late summer”, but it certainly means fans won’t be seeing him as early as they had hoped.