UFC hires Jeff Novitzky to clean up drug use in MMA

April 6, 2015

After a series of positive drug tests by some of the biggest names in the sport and the inevitable damage to its reputation that followed, the UFC has started to remedy the situation by hiring Jeff Novitzky 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.

“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," said Novitzky.  "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.”

When UFC superstars Jon Jones (cocaine test) and Anderson Silva recently tested positive for banned substances, it dealt a major blow to the sport, and arguably drew some fans away from the male competitors to instead focus their attention on charismatic women's star Ronda Rousey.

Although Jones test was for a recreational substance, it nevertheless was a public relations debacle for the UFC because they knew about it in advance of Jones' bout, but did not inform the public or postpone the event.

Silva's test was even worse, since it was apparently for a performancing enhancing substance used during his rehabilitation from a serious leg injury.

Enter Novitzky, a federal agent for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2008, who has led investigations into companies suspected of illegal distribution of dietary supplements and designer steroids.

“There is no bigger advocate of clean professional sports than Jeff Novitzky,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said. “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.”

Prior to joining the USFDA, Novitzky was a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service in their Criminal Investigation Department, where he oversaw and investigated some of the highest-profile performance enhancing drug (PED) cases in professional sports.

As part of its broader athlete health program, which includes the Athlete Accident Insurance Plan implemented in 2011, UFC announced in February the development of an expanded drug-testing program that will increase out-of-competition testing and pledged significant financial commitments for targeted testing protocols. Novitzky will play a leading role in the creation and implementation of the program, scheduled to be unveiled in July 2015.

A former collegiate athlete who played basketball for San Jose State University from 1989-91, Novitzky graduated with a degree in accounting.

By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services

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