UFC legend Chael Sonnen has urged Conor McGregor to explain why he hasn't been drug tested for 12 months.
McGregor has been out of action since July last year having broken his leg in a second consecutive defeat by Dustin Poirier. Since then the Irishman has been following a strict rehabilitation programme in an attempt to return to full fitness and is eyeing a return to 170lb after putting on weight during his recovery process.
It emerged last month that the UFC superstar had not been subject to random drug testing by USADA for a year and was last randomly tested in the third quarter of 2021. The anti-doping agency usually test fighters irrespective of inactivity unless they are notified that a fighter is retired and therefore exits the testing pool.
Former UFC star Sonnen has suggested an explanation is needed but doesn't expect there to be any wrongdoing. “Conor has a lot of opportunities," Sonnen said during a video on his YouTube channel when assessing the news. "I don’t make anything salacious out of the USADA business. If he is indeed out of the pool, I think it would serve him to tell us why.
"Twenty-four-seven, 365 to be a part of a (testing) pool that wouldn’t even matter because you’re not going to compete, there would be a responsibility for your lawyer or your legal team to come to you and say ‘Hey, let’s remove you from this pool.’ That might have just been it."
With the rules clear, there are a small number of fighters who have been subject to random testing despite having an absence period longer than McGregor. During USADA's introduction to the UFC, McGregor has been subject to 62 random tests which were most frequent during both 2016 and 2021, and records of a previous test were only uploaded to the organisation's website in September.
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It is now clear that McGregor will not fight until 2023 having suffered several setbacks to his ongoing recovery, but it is expected he will definitely look to return to the octagon despite brief retirement claims. USADA have since issued a response to the news claiming they are unable to disclose the status of McGregor's testing pool enrolment.
They told MMA Fighting: “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 . 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, but 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.”