April 7, 2015
UFC hires BALCO investigator Jeff Novitzky for 'clean initiative education program'
The UFC today announced the hiring of a prominent anti-doping figure as part of its ongoing efforts to ensure clean competition within the promotion’s octagon. Former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigator Jeff Novitzky, who came to national prominence through his role in the BALCO doping scandal that rocked Major League Baseball, joins the UFC as vice president of athlete health and performance. “Novitzky will spearhead the development of the organization’s clean initiative education program designed to ensure that every athlete competes with natural ability on an even playing field,” a press release stated. The announcement stated Novitkzy will oversee the promotion’s investment in “state-of-the-art sports science studies,” as well as “further develop its out-of-competition (performance-enhancing drug) testing policy and enrich its education and prevention programs.” Two months ago, UFC executives announced plans to ramp up drug testing for the 500-plus fighters on its roster while advocating stiffer penalties for drug offenders and bankrolling additional testing by state athletic commissions, as well as aligning with a third-party testing firm that will conduct out-of-competition testing. Although details on the program’s execution were not fully available – because the promotion needed to revise internal polices and contracts to make the program legally feasible – a target date of July 1 was planned for its implementation. “There is no bigger advocate of clean professional sports than Jeff Novitzky,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and COO Lawrence Epstein stated in the release. “When we announced our commitment for an enhanced drug testing program in February, we wanted to ensure that the best people would be helping move this program forward, and Jeff will lead the UFC in developing the most comprehensive anti-doping policy in professional sports.” Novitzky’s direct efforts were paramount in the uncovering of a massive doping program at the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), of which Barry Bonds, Marion Jones and Bill Romanowski were clients. BALCO founder Victor Conte was skeptical of today’s announcement (via Twitter): According to the UFC, Novitzky will take a “leading role” in the implementation of its increased anti-doping efforts. “I am thrilled to be joining a world-class organization like UFC, that is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure all of its athletes are competing in a clean sport,” Novitzky stated. “I am confident that UFC will be able to create a new gold standard testing program and implement it so a sustainable and level playing field is provided for all athletes.” http://mmajunkie.com/2015/04/ufc-hires-balco-investigator-jeff-novitzky-for-clean-initiative-education-program