Will Conor McGregor be able to return to action in the UFC without spending six months in the USADA testing pool? It’s a hot question that’s being asked by everyone ever since we realized “The Notorious” hasn’t been getting drug tested since he broke his leg back in July 2021.
According to a statement given by USADA’s director of communications to ESPN, they don’t believe McGregor fits the conditions for their ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause.
“McGregor is not enrolled in our testing pool and would have to be for six months unless an exception is granted, which we do not think would be applicable,” the USADA representative told ESPN via an email.
That counters what McGregor has been saying in the past week.
“I am clear for testing in February. I will complete my two tests per USADA and we are booking a fight,” he wrote in one tweet on Wednesday. Another claimed “Everything was fully disclosed before I began. The state of allowance for athletes to recover from injuries as horrific as the one I overcame must be assessed.”
The section of the USADA policy in question is 5.7.3, which reads:
“An Athlete who gives notice of retirement to UFC, or has otherwise ceased to have a contractual relationship with UFC due to Athlete-Initiated Inactivity, may not resume competing in UFC Bouts until he/she has given UFC written notice of his/her intent to resume competing and has made him/herself available for Testing for a period of six months before returning to competition.”
“UFC may grant an exemption to the six-month written notice rule in exceptional circumstances or where the strict application of that rule would be manifestly unfair to an Athlete provided that in either instance the Athlete provides a minimum of two negative Samples before returning to competition.”
What catches our eye here is USADA seems to give UFC the final discretion on who gets granted an exemption. There’s no further explanation for what qualifies as an exceptional circumstance, or what would be considered manifestly unfair to an athlete. The whole purpose of the wording, in fact, seems designed to leave a loophole open for the UFC to use at their own discretion.
So even if USADA has now come out and said McGregor doesn’t seem to be applicable for an exemption, the rules seem to state it isn’t their call to make in the end.