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United States: UFC Hires Anti-Doping Crusader

By Courtney Saleski

Last week, the UFC named Jeff Novitzky as Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance.  According to the press release, Mr. Novitzky will help the UFC “invest in state of the art sports science studies, further develop its out-of-competition testing policy, and enrich its education and prevention programs.”

Since at least the early 2000s, Mr. Novitzky has pioneered anti-doping investigations and prosecutions as a federal agent with the US IRS and US FDA. Mr. Novitzky is best known for leading the steroid investigations of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative and former baseball star Barry Bonds, as well as for his involvement in the investigation of Lance Armstrong. 

 “There is no bigger advocate of clean professional sports than Jeff Novitzky,” UFC Senior Vice President and COO Laurence Esptein 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.”

In 2012, I worked with Mr. Novitzky when I was an Assistant US Attorney on a prosecution relating to doping.  He was a tenacious investigator with a commanding knowledge of performance enhancing drugs and an excellent witness.  Moreover, his commitment to anti-doping was inspirational.  If this hire is indicative of the UFC’s commitment to anti-doping, the organization may have a good shot at the goal of having a clean sport.  The UFC’s new testing policy will be unveiled in July.

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