Jose Aldo might be wishing he had bitten his tongue in a recent interview.
Few members of the UFC’s talent roster are enamoured with new regulations, which are set to ban intravenous methods of rehydration following weigh-ins, from October 1st. The fighters will have little choice but to follow the new rules, however, as the penalty for failing to do so is no slap on the wrist.
The man who has been assigned to lead the battle against performance enhancing drugs in the UFC, former Food and Drug Administration employee, Jeff Novitzky, was recently a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. Novitzky gave fans their first taste of what the new program means for the athletes. “If someone is found out to have taken an IV you’re facing a potential two-year ban”, stated Novitzky.
It is a a severe punishment, and one that should give dissenters food for thought.
One particularly vocal member of the opposition to this new rule is UFC featherweight champion, Jose Aldo. According to mmafighting.com, at a press conference in July, the outspoken Brazilian told members of the media that he had no intention of conforming to the regulations.
“I will continue to do IV, I don’t care”, said Aldo. Jose also questioned how the United States Anti-Doping Agency, the body responsible for all the UFC’s testing, might actually catch him using the IV. “Only if they put security guard with me 24 hours a day”, said the stubborn champion.
USADA, however, won’t have to use such methods in their hunt for evidence of violations.
Novitzky outlined the main ways in which the agency can deduce that a fighter has been using an IV in an attempt to rehydrate. According to the former federal agent, USADA will test blood and urine to see if it is significantly diluted, which it would be if a fighter has been using the banned approach, or to see if it contains any of the “plastics” that are generally found in IV bags.
Maybe this information will put Aldo off flouting the rules.
Another factor that Aldo should consider is that his open discussion of his intentions will have singled him out for extra scrutiny.
It will be interesting to see how this effects the sport going forward. It seems inevitable that late 2015/early 2016 will be a busy period of divisional re-shuffling, as fighters will be forced to compete closer to their natural weights. The problem is that there are bound to be those that try to conduct business as usual. The argument put forth by those who are against the ban is that these athletes will be in real danger come fight night, if they are not allowed to rehydrate with an IV.
It is ironic that the restriction designed to keep fighters from making dangerous, dehydrating weight cuts so close to fight night, is going to force some into entering the ring in no condition to perform.
Which is the greater of two evils?
Of course this isn’t the only issue. According to mmafighting.com, another reason that the IV ban has come about is that drug cheats have been known to use the method in an attempt to “to mask the presence of performance-enhancing drugs”.
With the massive UFC 194 card falling after October 1st, and with both main event combatants, Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor, known for making huge weight cuts in the week before their fights, this issue could be pushed into the spotlight come December 12th.