Did Bellator fighters get drug tested during season eight?

Bellator MMA is the number two mixed martial arts organization, and questions are being asked if fighters that compete in their cage are subject to drug testing.Bellator New Logo #2

The question has been asked several times over the past couple of weeks, and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren tweeted this week that he has only been tested once during his time in the organization.

“Just read the article on why Bellator fighters don’t fail drug tests,” Askren tweeted. “Hard to fail a test when you don’t take it. Only been tested once!”

While in Bellator, Askren’s fights have taken place in Illinois, Texas, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Canada. He later tweeted that he believes the one fight he was tested by the acting commission was in Pennsylvania, which would have been at Bellator 33 when he defeated Lyman Good to win the Bellator welterweight title.

With the question on whether Bellator fighters are being drug tested, TheMMAReport.com reached out to the commissions that regulated Bellator events during the recently completed eighth season.

During season eight, Bellator went to California, Oklahoma, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina, Utah, New Mexico, Maine, Florida, and New Jersey. There were a total of eleven fight cards, and nine of them were regulated by state athletic commissions.

The only two fight cards that were not regulated by a state athletic commission were Bellator 86 (Oklahoma) and Bellator 87 (Michigan). Both of those fight cards were regulated by Indian Gaming Commissions.

The MMA Report was able to confirm that drug test did take place at Bellator 85 (California), Bellator 90 (Utah), Bellator 92 (California), and Bellator 95 (New Jersey). Drug tests were not administered at Bellator 88 (Georgia), Bellator 93 (Maine), and Bellator 94 (Florida).

Commission officials from Oklahoma, Michigan, North Carolina, and New Mexico have not confirmed at this time whether drug tests were administered during Bellator events this year or if no drug tests were given.

State Athletic Commission Officials in California, Utah, California, and New Jersey confirmed that all of the drug tests came back negative.

“We did test at least six contestants, and the the tests all came back negative,” Bill Colbert of the Utah Athletic Commission said via an email to TheMMAReport.com. “As I recall, we also tested four contestants for steroids, and those test results all came back negative.”

Nick Lembo of the New Jersey Athletic Control Board said that fighters on the Bellator 94 card in Atlantic City were drug tested via a urine sample, and The MMA Report previously reported about drug test results in California.

The three commissions that confirmed they did not drug test the fighters at Bellator events in their state did explain why this was the case.

Bellator 88 took place in Duluth, Georgia, and was regulated by the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission.  The commission explained why there were no drug test administered during Bellator 88 in the statement below:

“Under Commission Rule 85-1-.04(6), the Commission has the authority to order drug screens of participants should the need arise. During the Bellator event, the Commission staff members did not request any screens from any of the participants.”

Bellator 93 took place in Lewiston, Maine, and was regulated by the Combat Authority of Maine. A commission official confirmed on Tuesday that their commission is not currently set up for drug testing, so none of the fighters were tested.

The Florida Boxing Commission regulated Bellator 94 from Tampa, Florida, in late March, and The MMA Report had previously reported that no drug tests were administered. According to the Florida Boxing Commission, state law only requires drug tests for championship fights, and there were no title fights on the card.

“We test all fighters participating in championship title events, which is required by Florida Statutes and by the sanctioning body. If there is reasonable suspicion, our rules allow for random drug testing. There were no championship bouts or suggested reasonable suspicion at the Bellator event; therefore, no drug tests were administered.”

Along with sending a statement to The MMA Report, the Florida Boxing Commission issued the statue on drug testing in the state of Florida.

Section 548.046 (3)(a) and (b), Florida Statutes, require:
(3)(a) In a match that is a sanctioned championship title fight, or whenever the commission representative has reason to believe that a participant has ingested or used a prohibited drug or foreign substance, the commission representative shall request and the participant shall provide, under the supervision of the attending physician, commission representative, or inspector, a sample or samples of his or her urine taken not less than 1 hour before the commencement of the match or more than 1 hour after the conclusion of the match. No participant shall use substances or methods which could alter the integrity of the urine sample. Urine samples shall be taken in accordance with the protocol as agreed upon in writing between the commission and the laboratory used for processing the urine samples.
(b) The commission may require urine samples, as provided in paragraph (a), to be done randomly. If one participant in a match is tested randomly, the other participant in the match shall be tested also.

I did reach out to Bellator for a comment and was sent the following statement from Bellator Director of Public Relations Anthony Mazzuca.

“Testing by State Athletic Commissions is discretionary by each Commission and Bellator is held to exactly the same standard drug testing rules and regulations as is the UFC. Bellator conducted 11 events from January through April 2013 and each and every one of those events were fully controlled and regulated ABC sanctioned events.”

One of the biggest questions in the MMA community is how has no Bellator fighter tested positive for a banned substance and why have drug tests results in the past not been released. According to the President of the Association of Boxing Commissions Timothy Lueckenhoff, drug tests results are not considered public information in every state.

For example, the state of New Jersey does not consider drug tests public record and will not release the names of fighters if a positive test does occur. If a positive test does occur, the fighter and the promotion would be notified.

Even is some states, medical suspensions are not considered public record. For a majority of MMA events, medical suspensions are available but they are not available in every state. I personally tried to obtain all of the medical suspensions during the previous season of Bellator and some commissions would not release that information.

The UFC does have drug testing for fighters who compete on The Ultimate Fighter reality show and when they have international shows where they act as the commission. Several fighters have tested positive for banned substances at international UFC events with most of the positive results being for marijuana metabolites.

Should be noted that when the UFC does a show in the United States, the UFC depends on the athletic commission to do the testing, just like Bellator.

At the end of the day, some drug testing was administered by the athletic commissions regulating Bellator events in season eight of the promotion. It’s easy to blame Bellator for the lack of drug testing but blame has to go to the state athletic commissions as well.