Dana White: Why His Claim to Be "Regulated by the Government" Is Meaningless

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2013

Courtesy of MMAFighting.com
Courtesy of MMAFighting.com

Did you know that the UFC is regulated by the government? If this fact comes as a surprise to you, it’s probably because you haven’t watched a Dana White press conference/interview/media scrum/Q&A over the past several years.

It is White’s stock reply to criticism—or even benign inquiry—of the UFC’s drug testing policy. It may have even replaced “it is what it is” as his favourite phrase.

No one really knows why Dana continues to repeat this non-sequiturish line as though it is a knockdown argument against any and all criticism. For some reason, the UFC President equates government involvement with regulatory rigour. What’s more, he apparently only makes this approximation in relation to PED testing.

He routinely takes the various athletic commissions to task for their appointment of judges and referees, yet he believes they are beyond reproach when it comes to monitoring PED use? It must be tough to operate under the weight of such cognitive dissonance.

Making an argument in favour of, for example, the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s (NSAC) drug testing policy is the stuff of debating clubs. Even the late Christopher Hitchens would have struggled to make a coherent case for the NSAC’s half-baked approach.

The phrase “government regulation” is almost entirely without content. It would be an argument from authority but for the fact that state athletic commissions are not an authority on the subject of performance enhancing drugs. Not only do they not adequately police PED use, but they seem oblivious to the possibility that they might ever be wrong.

Does anyone remember the NSAC’s kangaroo court-like hearing over Nick Diaz’s suspension for the presence of marijuana metabolites in a post-fight drug test? I recall the commission dismissing a sound case against the legitimacy of said test, without even so much as addressing the arguments presented to them.

This happened after they had praised Alistair Overeem for justifying testosterone levels that make the Hulk look like he suffers from hypogonadism with a story so fantastically improbable that J.R.R. Tolkien would have likely remarked, “Hold on, that sounds a bit too farfetched.”

So, let’s be clear: Government regulation is not synonymous with sound drug testing policy. No matter how many times Dana White repeats the phrase or how exasperated he sounds while doing so, no one believes that government regulation is the gold standard in drug testing. I’m not even sure if White believes it.

The UFC’s decision to—and I’m paraphrasing—test the fecal matter out of anyone with a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is both a good first step in cleaning up the sport and a tacit admission that not enough is currently being done to combat PEDs.

I’m eager to find out how effective this new random drug testing policy will be. If nothing else, it might force Dana White to stop parroting the phrase “government regulation” whenever the subject of drug testing is raised.