Had they paid a small fee to expedite his test results, it’s possible that USADA officials would have learned of Brock Lesnar’s anti-doping violation in time to prevent the former heavyweight champion from competing against Mark Hunt at UFC 200.
Marc Raimondi of MMAFighting revealed on Sunday that the lab responsible for conducting the tests, the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory, charge between $35 and $450 for such requests. Though availing of this option would not have guaranteed earlier confirmation, due in part to the high volume of samples being handled at the lab in this an Olympic year, a spokesperson said that expedited results can return within a week.
Instead, the results of the tests carried out on Lesnar’s June 28th sample were not returned until July 14th, some five days after he had scored a unanimous decision victory over the New Zealander.
When approached for comment on the situation, the UFC vice president for athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky pragmatically pointed out that though the fee charged for expediting results seems like an inconsequential sum, paying it routinely may not be financially viable.
“We’re having an event literally every week now — 24 to 26 fighters per each card,” said Novitzky. “A lot of those fighters are being tested in the two to three weeks before a fight. You would have to expedite every one of those tests. If you want to expedite one or two tests, the costs with the laboratory are relatively minor. When you start talking about 100 or so a month or more, you could more than double the cost of this program.”
Paying the fee to more swiftly obtain the results of Lesnar’s tests alone may have seemed like they were singling him out or unfairly displaying an extra level of suspicion.
However, given the unusual nature of Lesnar’s situation and the fact that he was granted a controversial exemption prior to the fight, which meant that he was not forced to undergo the four months of drug-testing normally required of a returning athlete, a special effort would not have seemed inappropriate in this case.
The sample in question was taken during an ‘out-of-competition’ period, but another sample that Lesnar submitted on the day of the fight was subsequently found to contain a banned substance as well.