LOS ANGELES — Tyron Woodley was in Atlanta earlier this month for Super Bowl weekend. The UFC welterweight champion had several events and parties lined up, some of which were going to pay him a pretty penny to appear at.
Then, USADA came calling.
Woodley said Monday at a UFC 235 media lunch that a USADA doping-control officer contacted him late at night one of the days that weekend and didn’t end up arriving to take his drug-test sample until well after midnight. Woodley said he’s out $10,000 because he wasn’t able to get to one of the events that he was being paid to attend.
“They tested me Super Bowl weekend,” Woodley said. “The lady came to me, bless her soul, because I said a few unchoice words to her. But with respect. She came to test me at 12 a.m. on Super Bowl weekend. Knowing the reason I was in Atlanta was probably for Super Bowl. And I had some appearances that I was supposed to be at. I had an event with [NFL player] Devonte Freeman and Meek Mill I was supposed to be at, an event with Ludacris and an event with Snoop Dogg.
“And I was in the hotel waiting on her to come in 45 minutes of traffic to test me. So, she tested me around 1 a.m. And I missed those events. So I asked her, I said, ‘Why can’t you test me in the morning? I’m gonna be here.’ [She said,] ‘Oh let me call them and ask them if I can test you in the morning.’ They said, ’No, I gotta test you now.’”
USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, can essentially show up at any time, wherever a fighter is for random drug tests. Fighters must fill out their “whereabouts” on a smart phone app every three months letting USADA know where they will be every day. If a fighter doesn’t fill out that information correctly or misses doping-control officers three times in a 12-month span, he or she could face an anti-doping policy violation that carries a similar suspension to a drug-test failure.
“Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, athletes are subject to out-of-competition, no advance notice testing 365 days a year,” it states in the UFC athlete anti-doping handbook. “This is done to ensure that there are no blackout periods during which those looking to gain an unfair advantage could take performance-enhancing drugs without detection. USADA’s testing is designed to maximize detection and deterrence in order to ensure athletes are given the opportunity to compete in an Octagon that is fair and level.”
Woodley (19-3-1), who defends his title against Kamaru Usman in the co-main event of UFC 235 on Saturday, said it peeved him that he asked the doping-control officer why she didn’t test him earlier and she said she had “an event.”
“Why in the hell didn’t you test me earlier today?” Woodley said he asked. “‘Oh I had an event I had to go to.’ I have an event I have to go to that I’m missing money because I’m supposed to be there. She said, ‘Oh, I can meet you there.’ I said, ‘No, you can’t get in, you can’t get on the list.’ So I had to wait there and she had to test me at 1 a.m. And I was not happy.”
USADA spokesperson Adam Woullard wrote in a statement to MMA Fighting that the agency was unaware that Woodley had a paid appearance when the doping-control officer made contact with him on that date.
“USADA makes attempts based off of the information athletes provide on their whereabouts filings,” Woullard wrote. “If whereabouts are kept up to date with accurate information, and we see situations that don’t make sense logistically, we will plan accordingly. In this case, the opportunity seemed appropriate given the information we had and we weren’t aware that Woodley had a paid appearance when we made initial contact with him.”
Woodley, 36, has only been tested once this year, per USADA’s online database, presumably that Super Bowl weekend sample collection. He was tested 10 times in 2018 and eight times in 2017. Woodley has never failed a drug test.