The UFC flexed its muscles on Monday by hiring prominent investigator Jeff Novitzky in the company’s effort to stop fighters from using PED’s within the octagon. Novitzky played a pivotal role in the BALCO investigation that shook Major League Baseball to its core.
In a press release sent out on Monday the UFC stated, “Novitzky will spearhead the development of the organization’s clean initiative education program designed to ensure that every athlete competes with natural ability on an even playing field,”
Novitzky’s official title will be vice-president of athlete health and performance. The announcement is the latest step taken by the UFC to amp up its own drug testing policy. Novitzky is a current Drug and Food agent and has past experience with the IRS as an investigator but gained recognition for his role in uncovering the BALCO doping scandal that involved former professional baseball player Barry Bonds. He also had a role in a separate investigation involving disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.
Back in February the UFC announced that it would begin to take matters into its own hands when dealing with fighters and their failed drug tests. The Zuffa owned company plans to integrate random, out of competition drug test for all fighters on their roster. This was announced on the heels of the debacle that was the Jon Jones, Anderson Silva, and Nick Diaz failed drug tests after their respective high profile fights.
The UFC is in the process of figuring out the fine details of their new drug testing and punishment procedures but from all indications they have not steered from their July 1st target date of introducing the new policy.
UFC senior vice president and COO Laurence Esptein gave his thoughts on Novitzky’s hiring stating, “When we announced our commitment for an enhanced drug testing program in February, we wanted to ensure that the best people would be helping move this program forward and Jeff will lead the UFC in developing the most comprehensive anti-doping policy in professional sports.”
The hiring of Novitzky certainly gives the impression that the UFC is dead serious about cleaning up the sport once and for all. The use of PED’s and other supplements has been a hot topic for the past few years and even last week former UFC welterweight champion George St. Pierre questioned the UFC’s true commitment to cleaning up the sport.
Novitzky’s track record is proven and has been an advocate of anti-doping in sports, “I am thrilled to be joining a world-class organization like UFC, that is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure all of its athletes are competing in a clean sport,” Novitzky said. “I am confident that UFC will be able to create a new gold standard testing program and implement it so a sustainable and level playing field is provided for all athletes.”