Jeff Novitzky says ex-champion T.J. Dillashaw already tested for EPO

ATLANTA – UFC anti-doping tsar says T.J. Dillashaw has not dodged recent testing for erythropoietin, better known as EPO.

Jeff Novitzky, vice president of the UFC Athletes' Health and Performance Division, said that Dillashaw had been tested for EPO as part of battles against Cody Garbrandt, John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao. All came negatively.

A request for comments from MMA Junkie to the US Anti-Doping Authority (USADA), the UFC Anti-Doping Administrator, was not immediately returned.

Controversy arose over the agency's treatment of Dillashaw's previous tests after the two-year suspension agreement with the former title holder, which allowed USADA to reveal at least one test run on 28 December. was not initially reviewed for EPO.

Cody Garbrandt, his rival of Dillashaw, then asked the USADA to test previous samples and assert that he had been rebuffed after asking for additional tests for a pair of fights against the 39; ex-champion. He then criticized the agency for failing to retest the previous samples due to cost issues.

Even UFC President Dana White was taken aback by the idea that Dillashaw might have gone out of control.

"What shocked me is what I pay to USADA and it was not stopped earlier," he told MMA Junkie today after a conference. in support of the promotion program for the second quarter.

Novitzky, however, said the promotion's anti-doping partner was looking into its database to identify and test previous Dillashaw urine samples that had not been tested for EPO. The UFC executive admits that not all fighters are tested for the DEP that increases endurance. He said that the price of "special analysis", between $ 500 and $ 800, is prohibitive. But he disputes the idea that the USADA leaves people falling through the cracks.

"All tests … are strategic tests," Novitzky said. "They have a reason behind the test. And with respect to the EPO analysis, I thought it was a question of obtaining passport information, that is, they are looking at the markers of urine and blood over time. These data are stored in a computer and an algorithm can create an alert or suspicion of suspicion, and these fighters are the ones they want to dedicate additional sums.

With regard to re-analyzing the samples that could reveal other positive results, Mr. Novitzky said that the USADA was also thinking strategically when storing the previous samples. He says the agency has so far produced about 12,000 bottles in the UFC anti-doping program. He can not physically accommodate everyone, he said, so that people deemed to be suspicious have priority for storage.

"They do not keep a sample indicating that there is no red flag on their passport," he said. "They keep those samples that the algorithm, in theory, would spit out saying," Hey, maybe something is happening here. "

After the positive test of Dillashaw, we naturally pushed to increase the frequency of EPO tests. But Novitzky retorts that the current plan is actually more robust than the standard set by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

"Our percentage of EPO, it was said this week, far exceeds the WADA standard," he said. "We therefore test more EPO than the Olympic movement and probably more than any other professional sports organization.

"Add to that, I think we need to take a few weeks and let things calm down. I know everyone is excited about this high profile case, but from what I know about the percentages … we have an effective program to detect the use of EPO. "

Dillashaw will remain in office until January 18, 2021, two years after the date on which his temporary suspension was promulgated. Meanwhile, the UFC reserved a fight for the vacant UFC 238 belt between flyweight champion Henry Cejudo – who knocked out Dillashaw before his positive test – and No. 1 contender Marlon Moraes .

Dillashaw has since acknowledged his responsibilities and stated that he would pursue his career. Novitzky stressed that the USADA will hold it honest with the continuation of drug testing. He cited the heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov, who was tested positive when under sanction, as an example of the agency's diligence in applying the rules to suspended persons.

"If you still want to fight when this suspension is over, you're still part of this test program," he said.

Before joining the UFC as an anti-doping tsar, Novitzky thought that the EPO could be a problem for promotion. A former investigator on professional cycling, he knew how the drug had been used in one of the biggest doping scandals in the history of sport. The realization that he was right did not give him any pleasure.

"I looked at myself then and said, I'm wrong not to say that it's possible that you do something that you're going to get caught and your heritage is forever tarnished," he declared. "So it's disappointing for me."

For White, however, this has shaken his confidence in the entire system.

"We're spending all this money on USADA to make sure the rules of the game are fair, so I'm always 100% sure that if you do something, you're going to get caught," he said. "And that was not the case. That bothers me. "

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