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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
MMA Junkie Staff

USADA disputes Conor McGregor claims that meeting set, UFC return only requires two clean tests

As far as Conor McGregor is concerned, a couple passed drug tests will be all he needs to fight in the UFC again.

But the UFC’s drug testing partner, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), has a different idea about how things should go down. And while the decision on when McGregor returns ultimately is in the UFC’s hands, anything outside of USADA’s current guidelines is sure to set off a debate later this year.

McGregor on Wednesday said he is under the impression that he needs a pair of clean drug tests, and then he’s OK to return to the UFC after spending time outside USADA’s testing pool while recovering from a broken leg suffered in a July 2021 loss to Dustin Poirier.

“I’m not rushing nothing,” McGregor said on “The MMA Hour.” “There’s hurdles and whatnot. But we’re in contact. We’re in constant communication, and there’s an interview scheduled and a meeting (that will) happen, and then it will be official. But the six months thing, what they had said was two clean tests, and off I go. So I assume it won’t be too long.”

USADA, though, has a different idea about how the two clean tests need to happen – and it includes being back in the testing pool for six months. That’s a rule set up in conjunction with the UFC – though there’s a built-in asterisk that says the UFC can waive the six-month testing period under “exceptional circumstances.”

USADA on Thursday issued a statement to Canada’s TSN Sports and made clear its position on a planned McGregor return to competition – and disputed McGregor’s claim that a meeting with has been set up.

“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 (Thursday), we have not received notice of his coming out of retirement to compete,” the statement reads.

“The UFC rules are clear that, in addition to two negative tests, an athlete must make themself available for testing 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.”

McGregor (22-6 MMA, 10-4 UFC), the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history, hasn’t fought since his broken leg against Poirier. His comeback will be wrapped around Season 31 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which he’s been filming in Las Vegas opposite Michael Chandler (23-8 MMA, 2-3 UFC). The two are expected to fight later this year.

If McGregor entered the testing pool this week, he’d hit his six months in mid-September. “TUF 31” will have wrapped its broadcast run on ESPN by then, though there’s no hard and fast rule for how soon after the show airs that the coaches fight.

McGregor removed himself from the testing pool at some point after his injury. This past fall, he tweeted that he’ll be ready to re-enter the program in February.

McGregor has been accused by several prominent UFC fighters, including Anthony Smith, of using performance-enhancing drugs during his recovery. That raised questions about why McGregor was allowed to remove himself from the USADA program in the first place.

In a since-deleted tweet, McGregor wrote he has not done anything wrong in his time away, in addition to addressing the USADA statement.

“This is my issue. I’ve not lied once. Nor have I tested positive. Ever,” McGregor wrote on Twitter. “I have over 70 clean tests under this program, yet they are consistently coming out after I speak in a manner that makes it seem I am lying. It’s ridiculous. F*ck used. You are in The Bin.”

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