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UFC statement on why Ian McCall received an IV before UFC 208

UFC Fight Night 46 Photos
Ian McCall (left) has applied for a retroactive TUE for getting an IV administered before UFC 208.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Ian McCall said on Joe Rogan’s podcast over the weekend that he received an IV prior to UFC 208. The disclosure has drawn questions — even from Rogan himself — since the use of an IV is a prohibited method at all times in the UFC’s anti-doping program, run by USADA.

McCall fell ill after weighing in successful the day before UFC 208 earlier this month in Brooklyn, he said. The next morning, he was pulled from his fight against Jarred Brooks due to that illness.

Before that happened, though, McCall said he was administered two IV bags to help him rehydrate, based on the recommendation of Dr. Jeff Davidson of the UFC and UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky, who were monitoring him while he was sick.

“You can’t use an IV unless you get an exemption,” McCall said. “I don’t know the rules. Then again I was also sick the entire time, so I didn't know what the f*ck was going on.”

On Tuesday, the UFC sought to clarify the situation in a statement to MMA Fighting. The statement read that McCall had an acute medical condition — he said on the podcast that he was vomiting and unable to hold down water — and the UFC was in contact with USADA and the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) before the IV treatment was done.

McCall, 32, has submitted an application to USADA for a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE), per the statement, and it will be reviewed by USADA’s TUE Committee, which is comprised of medical doctors and scientists. The flyweight fighter must have records that demonstrate a “verifiable medical diagnosis and legitimate medical need” for the IV and that other non-prohibited alternatives were exhausted before administering it.

The full statement is below:

UFC was aware of the situation regarding Ian McCall in advance of UFC 208, and his need to receive treatment for an acute medical condition via a prohibited method under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. Prior to McCall receiving treatment, UFC was in communication with USADA and the New York State Athletic Commission regarding his condition. McCall has since submitted a retroactive therapeutic use exemption request to USADA – who is responsible for reviewing the use of any prohibited substance or method during the course of medical treatment.

Under the UFC Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) Policy, to receive approval of a TUE, athletes must submit medical records demonstrating a verifiable medical diagnosis and legitimate medical need for the requested medication or method in accordance with the applicable guidelines. Further, it must be determined that the athlete pursued and exhausted all non-prohibited alternatives to treat his condition and would return the athlete to a normal state of health without providing a performance-enhancing benefit.

The UFC’s TUE policy states: “If emergency treatment of an Athlete requires the Use of a Prohibited Substance or Prohibited Method, the Athlete must submit a TUE application to USADA with full medical documentation from the emergency as soon as possible after the start of the treatment. In such cases, the decision for the emergency TUE request will be made by the TUEC after treatment has taken place.”

McCall (13-5-1) said on the Joe Rogan Experience that he had one of the best weight cuts of his career and made weight easily. It was only after hitting the scale that he experienced health issues, unable to hold down any food or liquid without vomiting. The UFC was informed and Davidson and Novitzky came to his room to monitor the situation. Because he wasn’t able to orally rehydrate, McCall said he was administered two IV bags.

“They were just doing it as a precaution, because either way I was gonna need it,” McCall said.

McCall said he started to feel better, but the next morning his stomach issues began acting up again. He said he only rehydrated five pounds from the weigh-ins. McCall said he asked Davidson for two more IV bags and an anti-nausea drug, so he could fight, which Davidson denied. The doctor told McCall he had to go to the hospital and the fight was called off.

Once at the hospital, McCall said doctors thought he might have needed emergency surgery to remove his gall bladder, because the organ was shrunken. After an ultrasound showed he had no gallstones, that was ruled out. Rogan speculated that perhaps McCall’s weight cut was not as good as he thought.

“I’m still skinny,” McCall said. “I went home a day later than I was supposed to go home and I was still under 135 pounds — 132 pounds. I wasn’t able to hold food down until Tuesday. My body just f*ckin’ failed me.”

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