Conor McGregor has re-entered the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) drug-testing pool, even as the future of the partnership between USADA and the UFC appears uncertain.
On Wednesday, USADA CEO Travis Tygart made a two-part announcement. He confirmed that McGregor's much-anticipated return to the drug-testing pool occurred on Sunday. He also revealed that the anti-doping partnership between USADA and the UFC will conclude on January 1, 2024.
These developments follow months of uncertainty regarding McGregor's octagon return and the drug-testing policy challenges he faced while recovering from a broken leg sustained in July 2021.
Tygart stated, "We have been clear and firm with the UFC that there should be no exception given by the UFC for McGregor to fight until he has returned two negative tests and been in the pool for at least six months." He added, "The rules also allow USADA to keep someone in the testing pool longer before competing based on their declarations upon entry in the pool and testing results."
Unfortunately, the future of this six-month or longer requirement remains uncertain, as USADA will no longer be involved in the UFC Anti-Doping Program as of January 1, 2024. This announcement comes after a positive and productive contract renewal meeting in May 2023, where the UFC reversed course on October 9, opting for a different direction.
Conor McGregor and UFC CEO Dana White have hinted at McGregor's return for over a year. While McGregor coached on "The Ultimate Fighter 31" opposite Michael Chandler, and a fight was advertised at the season's conclusion in August, there is still no confirmed bout.
The UFC and USADA have been partners since 2015, with the anti-doping agency testing UFC athletes in and out of competition for more than eight years. Tygart expressed disappointment over the program's conclusion and specific incidents leading up to this announcement.
USADA will continue to conduct the UFC's drug testing program until December 31, 2023, with a focus on the long-term health, safety, and fairness of athletes. The UFC has not yet commented publicly on the separation from USADA and its plans for drug testing beyond the end of the year. UFC broadcaster Brendan Fitzgerald mentioned that the promotion will still have "3rd party independent testing" but without the USADA association.