Conor McGregor has never been shy about sharing his thoughts, but it's still surprising to see a fighter speak so frankly about the UFC. After all, the organization often seems to hold long grudges against athletes who say negative things about its policies.
At a media lunch earlier this week, McGregor criticized the UFC's new testing procedures for banned substances, developed in partnership with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Specifically, he notes that under the new policies, Brazilian fighters would be tested by the athletic commission in Brazil, an organization that's infamous for its suspicious relationships with the athletes in that country:
UFC are taking great, great steps to clean the sport and it's phenomenal what they're doing. Still, it's a flawed system. The Irish Sports Council were hired by USADA to test me. So that's Irish people coming to test me, the Irish Sports Council. If they're coming to test me, then the same people that are testing Jose are the Brazilian commission, the same people who are asking for selfies, who train in the gym, who will look the other way when the piss test gets thrown over the shoulder. It's still a flawed system, I feel.
The incident that McGregor is calling attention to in this quote occurred earlier this year in May. A representative from Drug Free Sport traveled to Jose Aldo's gym in Brazil to test him ahead of UFC 189. He was turned away, however, with an off-duty police officer who trains at Aldo's gym arresting him over a visa issue.
The next day, a representative from CABMMA (the Brazilian athletic commission) arrived to take the sample for testing. After the collection, the CABMMA official asked Jose Aldo for an autograph and photo.
The entire incident (recapped here) is very suspect, and what exactly went down in Brazil isn't entirely clear.
Conor McGregor believes that the solution is to have collections done by impartial officials. He said:
I feel somebody from outside the nation would have to come. I feel like you'd have to send an American from USADA or wherever USADA is based to go to that country and do it themselves. You can't hire in someone from over there.
The USADA has since defended its policies, saying it vets the organizations it works with to conduct the collections, as spokesperson Annie Skinner told MMAFighting:
The collection protocols and procedures a UFC athlete experiences in Ireland are the sample protocols and procedures a UFC athlete experiences in Brazil, USA, Japan, China, Australia or any other location around the world.
McGregor doesn't see it that way though, and believes that performance enhancing drugs are a piece of the Brazilian MMA culture. He made his thoughts perfectly clear without mincing words:
Performance-enhancing drugs or steroids, you can walk into a chemist in Brazil and pick that up. It's part of culture. And there's nothing wrong with it.
That's just the way they are. That's the way life is over there. It's not looked down upon. It's just the way of life over there. So you can't hire in the Brazilian commission to come and do that and expect it to be done. ... I still think it's a flawed system. But I don't care. I got tested a million times.