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USADA, UFC reduce fighter fees in arbitration process

E. Casey Leydon, MMA Fighting

It'll be a little easier financially for UFC fighters to challenge potential anti-doping policy violations beginning this fall.

USADA and the UFC have reduced the filing fee for arbitration and will refund that fee to fighters who were found with no fault or no violation, according to a release sent out Monday. The new provision begins Nov. 1. The release states that the change to the UFC anti-doping policy was implemented to "improve the arbitration process for UFC athletes."

When a UFC fighter challenges a potential anti-doping violation through USADA, he or she must pay to file for arbitration. The UFC covers other costs with regards to the arbitration process.

Yoel Romero told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour back in March that he had to pay a $2,700 fee to begin the USADA arbitration process. The UFC, he said, paid for the arbitrator.

USADA did not announce Monday what the new filing cost would be.

There have been a number of cases that have ended in no fault or no violation since USADA begn as the UFC'a anti-doping partner in July 2015, including multiple having to do with the drugs meldonium and clenbuterol. Meldonium is banned by WADA, but still under investigation, while clenbuterol is frequently found in contaminated meat in Mexico and China.

The change to the policy also included a filing fee refund schedule for when a fighter's case settles early in the arbitration process.

"These changes will make arbitration more accessible for athletes, while still upholding the integrity of the arbitration process," USADA stated in the release. "The changes modify the original Arbitration Rules implemented under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy when it launched in July 2015."

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