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Colby Covington turns against USADA, claims he requested EPO testing

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UFC 245: Ultimate Media Day Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

LAS VEGAS – Ex-interim UFC welterweight champion Colby Covington repeatedly has accused champ Kamaru Usman without evidence of using the performance-enhancing drug erythropoietin (EPO). Now, he’s turned against the UFC’s anti-doping partner.

Covington lashed out at the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency for lax testing in advance of UFC 245, incorrectly claiming he hadn’t been tested for Saturday’s pay-per-view fight against Usman at T-Mobile Arena.

”They didn’t test me one time leading up to this fight,” Covington told several media outlets, including MMA Fightng, during an extended scrum. “They know I’m clean – that’s probably why they didn’t test me.

”Where’s the testing? I love USADA; I love Jeff Noviztky, but c’mon, guys, let’s be honest. USADA works for the UFC, so you really think that the UFC is going to pull a main event or test a guy that could potentially fail the test and ruin their business? I don’t think so.”

In fact, Covington has been tested once by USADA during the fourth quarter of this year, as has Usman. Both have never failed a drug test while subject to the UFC’s anti-doping program, or while fighting for any other promotions.

During an athlete panel on Wednesday, Usman said the accusations were a misdirection to mask the challenger’s expectation of losing. He has denied taking EPO and said he didn’t even know what the substance was until Covington accused him of using it.

USADA spokesperson Adam Woullard acknowledged a request for comment, but did not have a response at the time of this writing; MMA Fighting will update the story with his response.

Covington claimed he requested an EPO test of Usman to an unknown party, possibly referring to a UFC 245 press conference in which he first claimed the champ had doped.

”I did ask for it extensively with emails and whatnot, and I was hoping they were going to do it,” Covington said. “I was going to pay $25,000 to piss clean in a cup in New York, but he couldn’t do it. He just completely avoided the subject. I brought it up twice to him, and he just acted like he couldn’t even deny it. So I think it showed his reaction at the press conference – he’s obviously on steroids.”

The ex-interim champ, who earlier this year earned a title shot with a dominant win over ex-champ Robbie Lawler, has claimed without evidence that his fight with Usman was pushed from UFC 244 to UFC 245 because the champ had the EPO in his system; previously, he has indicated a clash over money with the promotion.

Since the UFC implemented its anti-doping program in 2015, it famously lost high-profile headliner Jon Jones to a positive drug tests prior to its banner UFC 200 event. The promotion was criticized for granting former heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar an exemption from a pre-fight testing window; Lesnar later tested positive for a pair of banned performance-enhancers following a win over Mark Hunt. Hunt sued the UFC for conspiring to circumvent its anti-doping rules and recently lost in court.