Over the years, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has proven their ability to find banned substances in an athlete’s system, even at miniscule levels. However a recent situation has emerged showing just how awkwardly stringent their testing really is.
For most MMA fans, USADA is known for handling all of the drug testing for the UFC. They are the ones taking two years away from the careers of young fighters, for tainted supplements, and catching champions using EPO. However they also handling drug testing for other sports organizations as well.
Two athletes, one from boxing and the other from softball, fell victim to some of USADA’s testing protocols, in a rather interesting way. Virginia Fuchs and Madilyn Buckles both had drug tests come back positive for banned substances. However they were both cleared of any wrongdoing, when it was determined that the cause of these banned substances being in their systems, was through sexual intercourse.
“USADA announces two (non-MMA) athletes will not be sanctioned for recent findings because they were each (separately) exposed to banned substances “via sexual transmission.”
All for strong testing program, but maybe thresholds need to be higher? How much could have been present?
This tweet from John Morgan promoted a reply from the UFC’s President of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novitzky. He confirmed that this was true, while explaining that is is a perfect example of why having testing thresholds is so important.
“Yes yes yes! This is what athletes are facing these days and EXACTLY why UFC program adopted thresholds last year. Need to see Athletic Commissions do the same. A lot of encouraging discussions recently with Comissions including Nevada.”
So what does this mean for USADA?
Well, to put it frankly, it means that USADA probably has too precise of testing. The fact that they can measure such a small amount that it could have been transmitted sexually shows that their testing is effective. But that begs the question: is it too effective?
As Novitzky pointed to, the company did recently revamp some procedures, putting in thresholds for what is considered to be a high enough amount of something to confer performance enhancing benefits. However this only covers a small range of substances. Not to mention, the scientific backing behind these thresholds is suspect at best.
Regardless it is good to see that these athletes were not reprimanded for these infractions. It must be hard to enforce strict liability in a situation like this.