“The UFC Does Not Grant TUE’s” When Entering Unregulated Markets?

When the UFC enters markets that don’t have compulsive drug tests some questions spring to mind such as what, if any, performance enhancing drugs are outlawed for such shows?  Are Therapeutic Use Exemptions ever granted and if so who is in charge of granting these?

The UFC’s latest event in Ontario provided an opportunity to explore some of these questions.  As recently discussed, the Ontario Athletic Commission “does not have a list of prohibited drugs” and they specifically defer to the UFC with respect to which PED’s would be outlawed.   I reached out to the UFC to see which specific drugs were outlawed for UFC 165 and they responded, not surprisingly, that they “would test for the same prohibited substances as we always do which are based on the list prohibited under the WADA guidelines.“.

Since the WADA guidelines also allow for Therapeutic Use Exemptions to be granted I asked whether these were in fact allowed when the UFC enters a market that does not have a list of prohibited substances and if so, who was in charge of granting these.   Steve Keogh from the UFC’s public relations department responded as follows:

“The UFC does not grant therapeutic use exemptions.  The UFC ensures that any athletes using any substance banned by WADA, comply with the requirements set forth by the Nevada State Athletic Commission with respect to their TUE policy which can be found on their website at 


(for TUE’s generally) and 


(for testosterone TUE’s).

There were no fighters that were competing under any TUE at UFC 165.”

So the UFC apparently does not grant TUE’s when entering an unregulated market but an athlete can use prohibited substances so long as they comply with the Nevada State Athletic Commission TUE policy.  Interestingly the above statement does not appear to go so far as to require a TUE from the NSAC but simply that the UFC be satisfied that an athlete who uses a WADA banned substance prove that the below criteria are affirmatively answered:

A TUE will be granted only in strict accordance with the following criteria:
a. The unarmed combatant would experience a significant impairment to health if
the prohibited substance or prohibited method were to be withheld in the course of treating
an acute or chronic medical condition.
b. The therapeutic use of the prohibited substance or prohibited method would
produce no additional enhancement of performance other than that which might be
anticipated by a return to a state of normal health following the treatment of a legitimate
medical condition. The use of any prohibited substance or prohibited method to increase
“lownormal” (or above) levels of any endogenous hormone is not considered an
acceptable therapeutic intervention.
c. There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to the use of the otherwise
prohibited substance or prohibited method.
d. The necessity for the use of the otherwise prohibited substance or prohibited
method cannot be a consequence, wholly or in part, of the prior use, without a TUE, of a
substance or method which was prohibited at the time of use.

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