Conor McGregor’s USADA delay looks like UFC smoke and mirrors

Conor McGregor needs to tell UFC, not USADA he's ready to return to action.

By: Trent Reinsmith | 4 months ago
Conor McGregor’s USADA delay looks like UFC smoke and mirrors
Copyright: INPHO/Gary Carr

If we’re going by recent statements, Conor McGregor is not in the United States Anti-Doping Agency testing pool because he doesn’t want to be there.


On Saturday, UFC president Dana White said of the former two-division UFC champion, “[McGregor] has to get into the USADA pool first. He’s filling out the paperwork. I don’t know how soon that will be done or what’s going on, but that’s his business that he’s handling with USADA. But it’s all in motion.”

The problem with White’s claim is that McGregor doesn’t need to complete any USADA paperwork. He doesn’t even need to inform USADA.

USADA language

According to the USADA website, for any fighter to get back into the testing pool, that fighter must “send a return-from retirement statement through courier, fax, or email to the UFC.”

That’s it. It’s all right there in Article 5.7.3 of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. According to the USADA website, the current iteration of the USADA / UFC Anti-Doping Policy has been in effect since January 1, 2022.

The full language of that article:

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.

Conor McGregor not tested since 2021

Conor McGregor has not fought since Dustin Poirier defeated him via TKO at UFC 264 in July 2021. McGregor suffered a broken leg, which required surgery, during that contest. According to online records, USADA last tested McGregor in the third quarter of 2021.

In October 2022, White seemed to confirm that McGregor was out of the USADA testing pool when he said the Irish fighter would need to be in that testing pool for at least six months before being eligible for a UFC bout.

Conor McGregor’s claims

Last week, McGregor was asked about his USADA testing status. At the time, the former champ claimed that things had been sorted and that he was looking forward to a fight.

“That’s, ehhh, that’s done, man. That’s done. By year end, I’m back in that cage, having competed. I’m clear, I’m there, I’m ready to go.”

Conor McGregor responds to USADA question

McGregor’s claim that things were “done” came before White said the fighter was filling out the required paperwork to rejoin the USADA testing pool.

Conor McGregor to receive a UFC waiver?

McGregor served as a coach for the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Michael Chandler. The expectation is that McGregor will face Chandler before the end of 2023 inside the octagon. However, to make that fight, McGregor must either be eligible for six months of USADA testing or the UFC must issue him an “exceptional circumstances” waiver to forego that six months of testing eligibility.

Once McGregor notifies the UFC of his availability, he must complete paperwork related to the “Whereabouts Policy developed by UFC.”

*Bloody Elbow contacted the UFC and asked the promotion if McGregor relayed his intention to rejoin the USADA testing pool. Unfortunately, the UFC did not respond before publication.

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About the author
Trent Reinsmith
Trent Reinsmith

Trent Reinsmith is a freelance writer based out of Baltimore, MD. He has been covering sports for more than 15 years, with a focus on MMA for most of that time. Trent focuses on the day-to-day business of MMA — both inside and outside the cage — for Bloody Elbow.

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