Frank Mir was not denied a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) in Nevada, according to the UFC's vice president of athlete health and performance. He just was not able to apply for one with enough time to spare before his fight.
Jeff Novitzky told MMA Fighting on Friday that Mir was granted a TUE for Adderall by USADA, which runs the UFC's anti-doping program. When Mir attempted to apply for the same exemption with the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC), he was told that there wasn't enough time before his UFC 191 co-main event with Andrei Arlovski to do so, according to Novitzky.
On Thursday, Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times reported that the NAC ruled Mir's Adderall TUE with USADA inadmissible. Novitzky clarified that the UFC and USADA had told Mir from the beginning that he would also need to apply for a TUE with the commission that holds jurisdiction for his fights.
"They indicated to us that there was not enough time for him to put one in," Novitzky said. "So, there's been some inaccurate reporting in the media that Mir has had a TUE declined by the Nevada commission. That's completely inaccurate. Frank never submitted a TUE through Nevada. Instead, he was told by me personally as soon as we knew there wasn't enough time in Nevada that you're not gonna have permission by Nevada to take this prohibited substance in the fight and you should discontinue it immediately. He indicated that he did so."
NAC executive director Bob Bennett did not wish to comment specifically about Mir's situation, though he told Pugmire on Thursday that USADA is "confusing the fighters." What Bennett did say is that regardless of what TUE a fighter gets from USADA, he or she will still have to apply for one in Nevada if the fighter is competing there.
"It's really non-negotiable," Bennett told MMA Fighting. "The Nevada State Athletic Commission is the only body that can authorize a therapeutic use exemption in the state of Nevada."
Bennett said any TUE given to a fighter by USADA or VADA or any other body has "no standing" with the NAC.
"They must fill out our paperwork, provide us with the documentation from their doctors in support of their TUEs and then it will go to our doctor and our doctor will make that determination," Bennett said.
Novitzky said USADA will be granting TUEs to UFC fighters under the new anti-doping program and that the entire process will be confidential due to the involvement of personal medical records. So other fighters and the public will not know if a fighter is using a WADA-prohibited substance with a TUE granted by WADA. The only reason Mir's situation has been addressed is because Mir granted the UFC permission to talk about it, Novitzky said. Mir ended up losing to Arlovski by split decision.
Once a fighter applies for an exemption, Novitzky said the request will go to USADA's committee overseeing TUEs, which is made up of medical experts. Two of those experts, who focus on the particular substances in question, will then decide whether or not the athlete should be allowed to use it. If they cannot come to a consensus, another expert will be brought in to break the tie. USADA's medical science director will then make the final determination based on the findings of the experts.
The USADA process will seek to determine that the medical records and diagnoses provided by the fighter are accurate and well-supported, that there are no other reasonable medical alternatives and that usage will only bring the fighter back to a normal level with no performance benefits, per Novitzky.
Novitzky said that doesn't mean fighters will be granted testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) exemptions, which were banned last year. Novitzky said TRT would not meet USADA's standards unless there was a very unique circumstance.
"The only way I could see testosterone is literally if the individual needed it to survive and live and if that was the case that person is probably not cut out for the UFC," Novitzky said.
The necessity for USADA TUEs outside the scope of athletic commissions is due to the fact that USADA will be testing UFC fighters year-round, even if they are not licensed for an upcoming bout.
Regarding the SB Nation article published this week that calls into question USADA's handling of Floyd Mayweather and other boxers, Novitzky said he was informed by the agency that the piece was "filled with factual inaccuracies and falsehoods." He is confident moving forward with USADA as the UFC's anti-doping partner.
"Based on 15 years of working with them and seeing how they make decisions and seeing how those decisions are ethical and how every single time they adhere to carrying out the WADA code, I have 100 percent confidence that we have enlisted the gold standard, best anti-doping agency in the world and all of our athletes should have that same trust and confidence," Novitzky said. "I haven't lost any of that in USADA. They're the best."