Nevada to Increase Out-of-Competition Drug Testing

The state of Nevada will ramp up random, out-of-competition drug testing for combat sports athletes after Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday signed a bill into law that will increase the amount of money available for screenings.

Senate Bill No. 498 amended the current Nevada state athletic commission regulations, which used promoter taxes from professional events to award grants to amateur organizations. Now, some of the money will be placed into a fund for drug testing fighters.

The language of the bill states that testing will be for "amateur and professional unarmed combatants at any time, including, without limitation, during any period of training."

That essentially means that Nevada can randomly test any licensed fighter at any time. The state's commission has had that power since early 2008 but often lacked the funds to employ it. UFC 84 fighters Sean Sherk and B.J. Penn were among the first to be tested out of competition, but within two years, the program was unfunded and unused. By February 2011, the program was out of money after legislators withdrew its funding, effectively rendering it useless as a weapon to catch drug cheats.

Immediately afterward, commission executive director Keith Kizer requested the state find a new source of revenue to fund the program, and the newly signed bill is the compromise.

Currently, promotions pay $1 for each ticket sold for admission at sanctioned professional events, though smaller events (those with gross receipts less than $500,000) pay 50 cents for each ticket sold.

Last year, for example, the UFC held six events in Nevada that drew a total of over 40,000 paid fans. It included four pay-per-view events that drew $1 million-plus gates, and two smaller Ultimate Fighter Finales that drew less than $500,000 each. Those ticket sales resulted in Nevada earning $39,189.50 in fees.

Those fees will now help fund the testing program. The change goes into effect on July 1, the day before UFC 132 comes to town.

In addition to MMA, Nevada sanctions boxing and kickboxing, and promoters and athletes in those sports will also be included in the program.

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