MMA/UFC

PFL partners with USADA for new anti-doping program following slew of testing failures

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2023 PFL 6
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

PFL is upping its drug-testing game.

Following a slew of failed tests that ravaged its 2023 season, PFL officially announced a partnership with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in a memo sent to fighters and teams Tuesday by PFL president of fighter operations Ray Sefo. The partnership is effective immediately, according to the memo, and “initial educational sessions” with USADA are in the works for all athletes set to compete in the upcoming 2023 PFL playoffs.

ESPN first reported the news.

In an attached FAQ sent to fighters and teams, PFL outlined its new drug-testing program as “year-round in- and out-of-competition testing” in a setup “very similar” to the UFC’s partnership with USADA, only “with minor distinctions to account for the PFL’s sport season format.”

According to the FAQ, “marijuana is prohibited in-competition, but will only be flagged as a violation if used for performance enhancement.”

PFL fighters will not be required to file whereabouts updates at all times in the same manner as UFC fighters, however “all PFL fighters starting with the PFL Playoffs will be subject to out-of-competition testing and must provide PFL and USADA with residence and training locations for that purpose.”

The complete memo sent to fighters and teams Tuesday can be read below.

PFL Fighters,

We are proud to announce that today we are formally launching the PFL Anti-Doping Program in partnership with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

USADA conducts year-round, independent anti-doping programs for all Olympic, Paralympic, and UFC athletes, and will now do so for PFL athletes as well.

This program is part of the PFL’s commitment as a fighter first organization to supporting a safe, level playing field and advancing the highest levels of competition and the integrity of the sport.

The program will begin immediately with initial educational sessions being scheduled with USADA this week for participants in the upcoming Playoffs. Educational sessions to explain the program will be scheduled with other fighters thereafter.

It is strongly recommended that each fighter have their coach, manager, or other key support person join the educational sessions.

The PFL Fighter Ops Team will follow up shortly with more details.In the meantime, more information about the program is available in the attached FAQs and at http://PFL.USADA.org.

Ray Sefo

President of Fighter Operations

PFL’s partnership with USADA comes on the heels of a disastrous barrage of drug-testing failures that removed 10 fighters from the promotion’s 2023 season, including 2022 light heavyweight champion Rob Wilkinson, 2021 heavyweight champ Bruno Cappelozza, one-time UFC title challenger Thiago Santos, and former UFC fighter Krzystof Jotko.

“The PFL is a fighter first organization and the company feels strongly about creating a safe, level playing field for all of our athletes,” the promotion wrote on Tuesday. “It is paramount for our athletes to know they can compete at the highest levels of the sport and understand that their skills will be the difference every time they enter the SmartCage.”

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