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USADA to continue testing athletes amid coronavirus concerns, UFC fighters included

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UFC Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

The United States Anti-Doping Agency is making changes to its testing protocols while continuing to monitor athletes during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The UFC’s anti-doping partner released a statement on Tuesday outlining its plans to take precautionary measures for the virus while focusing its testing program on “mission-critical” sports.

“Effective immediately, USADA will focus only on mission-critical testing of athletes in sports still competing, and as absolutely needed for those preparing for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to ensure their rights are upheld and their reputations protected,” the statement reads.

USADA spokesperson Adam Woullard told MMA Fighting that fighters will be tested “as deemed critical under the guidelines.”

Per Tuesday’s statement, the USADA’s doping control officers (DCOs) will use protective gear and have hand sanitizer at the ready if available, athletes and DCOs are required to wash their hands before tests, and athletes and DCOs will maintain a six-foot distance when possible.

No DCOs showing any sign of sickness or risk criteria will be permitted to collect samples. Carriers of the coronavirus can spread the virus without showing symptoms, which can take days to develop, if at all.

Athletes are asked that they continue to file their whereabouts with the USADA as plans and events change.

“While it may be difficult to remember in the midst of all this uncertainty, we trust that the day will arrive—hopefully soon—when we all will celebrate as you inspire us by demonstrating your commitment to fair play and your great skill on the field of play,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in an accompanying video. “Hopefully, you know that all of us here at USADA are genuinely here to protect your right to a healthy and fair playing field.

“When making decisions about our current testing programs, we are being conservative and cautiously rational as we put your health and well-being and that of our own team, including our doping control officers as the highest priority.”

Watch Tygart’s video message below: