NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer outlines changes in drug testing, addresses blood testing criticism
Posted by: Jon Luther on May 19, 2011
It was only five months ago that the Brazilian slugger Thiago Silva took a dominant unanimous decision victory over fellow light heavyweight Brandon Vera at UFC 125. Many felt Silva’s performance was an assertion of his standing among the very best in the 205-pound division. Weeks later, Silva’s performance would be shrouded in controversy following urinalysis test results indicating that he had submitted fake urine to the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).
“Well this kind of thing goes all the way back to Kevin Randleman where he basically used a fake penis, put on a pair of bike shorts, had a cup and came in to take pre-fight urine,” says Keith Kizer, NSAC executive director. “He lifted up the leg of shorts, took out the fake penis and did the test. We checked on temperature, sent it to a lab, and we found it was fake urine. We said ‘look, now you guys have to pull down your shorts so that whoever is administering the test can see everything.’
“When Thiago Silva came in he pulled down his shorts and showed his actual penis, but as he turned towards the toilet he palmed a bottle, grabbing his penis in the other hand, pretended like he was urinating but was really putting the contents of bottle into the sample. We know now that Thiago’s sample was fake urine. It took him until the B sample to fess up to that.”
The decision win over Brandon Vera was changed to a no contest and Kizer claims the incident prompted a change in the commission’s testing policy:
“So the changes that we’re making are -- and it’s unfortunate we have to go to this level because guys like Thiago Silva and Kevin Randleman ruined it for the bunch -- that you need to see the urine coming out of the penis and into the cup. All fighters will be shirtless, and they shouldn’t have a problem with that since they fight shirtless in front of thousands of people anyway, and they will pull their pants down to the knees and then urinate right in front of the inspector. They have to see the urine actually going into the vial.”
Kizer and the NSAC have recently come under fire from Travis Tygart, chief of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), for what Tygart claims are lax standards regarding drug testing in mixed martial arts. Tygart would go on to state that the commission’s rules are ‘horrific’ in comparison to his own USADA rules and that they have fought ‘tooth and nail’ to oppose standardized blood testing in the sport. Kizer said while there is no urine test for human growth hormone (HGH), there are some serious concerns with the blood test for HGH. Kizer states that the method is too disruptive and points to recent hypocrisy on the part of USADA:
“We disagree on that point – the blood testing for HGH. He [Tyler Tygart] does this in a way that isn’t the most professional way of debating the issue and makes us all look bad – that is par the course for him and that is fine -- but first off, it is too invasive. Sticking a needle into the arm is more invasive than having a guy pee in a cup and we know that. We made a big deal at a previous NSAC hearing about taking blood too close to the fight and the risks involved, which include developing a hematoma, nicking the vain and so on.
“What’s telling is that USADA took no blood from Shane [Mosley] or Floyd [Mayweather] a week from the fight. They make a big deal about it and when they had their chance, they didn’t do it. That speaks volumes to who has the right attitude about blood testing.”
Additionally, Kizer says that the accuracy of the blood testing method pales in comparison to urine testing for steroids, masking agents and diuretics.
“There’s also the issue of whether it’s accurate or not. Urine testing is the best test for those substances as steroids are out of the blood very quickly. Travis Tygart has even testified before us about this. As for the HGH blood test, they’ve done thousands of tests and they’ve only caught one guy. Either he is the only guy doing HGH or there are a lot of false negatives. In fact, the guy they caught had just used it so it was circulating in his system and he admitted it immediately."
According to Kizer, the use of blood testing would be superfluous for steroids, if not altogether unnecessary, given the literature on the method.
“The testing results from the HGH blood testing has not been peer-reviewed. So if an athlete got caught and they went to court, they would not get convicted because the test hasn’t been validated by the scientific community. If you do catch somebody but the results are going to get thrown out of court, then why would you test? For those reasons, I don’t know anyone, unless they have an agenda or are trying to get funding, who would say this is the thing to do right now.”