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USADA releases statement on UFC 249 testing

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The exact circumstances surrounding the operations for UFC 249 are shrouded in mystery and you can add the USADA’s involvement to that ongoing story.

MMA Fighting received a statement (first published by ESPN) from USADA spokesperson Adam Woullard regarding how the agency plans to test fighters at the April 18 event, which has yet to have its location officially disclosed by the UFC.

The USADA’s statement is as follows:

“With all consideration to athlete safety and logistical challenges, we’re going to do everything in our power to conduct UFC event testing. Just like the referees in the octagon, our doping control officers are an essential part of a fair fight.”

UFC 249 was originally slated to take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but growing concerns around the coronavirus pandemic led to a nationwide shutdown of mass gatherings that has affected every major sports and entertainment entity. With the government calling for only essential services to remain open, organizations such as the NBA and NHL were forced to end their seasons prematurely while the NFL and MLB are planning for an adjusted schedule as the start of their seasons approach.

UFC President Dana White has insisted from the start that UFC 249 will proceed as scheduled despite having to postpone three events that were scheduled for March 21, March 28, and April 11. Speaking to the media, White said that future events could take place on a private island, though he has not revealed the location for UFC 249.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that UFC 249 is expected to take place at Tachi Palace Resort Casino in Lemoore, Calif., with MMA industry veteran Jeff Sherwood’s initial report stating that three other events are expected to be held there as well. The casino is located on tribal land that does not fall under the jurisdiction of the state’s athletic commission.

On March 17, the USADA released a statement explaining how it would change its out-of-competition testing protocol, emphasizing new COVID-19 precautions and the narrowing of its scope to “mission-critical” sports. It is unclear what restrictions and obstacles the agency will face when it comes to fight week and on-site testing.

UFC 249 is scheduled to be headlined by an interim lightweight championship bout between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje.