After a hiatus from the UFC, Conor McGregor is set to make his return to the octagon. However, questions remain over his compliance with the US Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) testing program, which every fighter must go through before returning.
Michael Chandler, McGregor's opponent in his upcoming fight, has expressed concerns over the Irishman's lack of participation in the six-month program. The later McGregor enters the program, the longer the fight will be delayed.
But McGregor, who has requested "special treatment" from the anti-doping agency, believes he can return to the UFC based on several negative tests and avoid the half-year program altogether. "I'm not rushing anything," McGregor said during an appearance on the MMA Hour. "There's hurdles and what not, but we're in constant communication."
While USADA aims to meet with all athletes who enter or re-enter the testing pool, the organization has not yet received notice of McGregor's comeback. "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," said a USADA statement.
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"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." However, there is a potential loophole that McGregor has exploited in the regulations, which could be used to protect high-profile stars.
Whether this is a scandal on the horizon is yet to be seen, but it would not be surprising if the story is covered up.
McGregor Seeks Exception to USADA Testing Regulations
McGregor's request for "special treatment" from USADA is a direct challenge to the anti-doping agency's protocols.
USADA's strict testing program is designed to ensure a level playing field in UFC competition and prevent athletes from using performance-enhancing drugs. However, exceptions can be made to the six-month rule "in exceptional circumstances, when the strict application of the rule would be manifestly unfair to the athlete," according to USADA.
McGregor's request for an exception has raised eyebrows and brought into question the effectiveness of USADA's testing program. If McGregor is granted an exception, it could set a dangerous precedent for future high-profile fighters seeking similar treatment.
UFC fans and fighters alike will be watching to see how this situation unfolds and whether USADA will maintain the integrity of its anti-doping protocols.
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