Are the UFC/USADA Bending the Rules for Andrea “KGB” Lee Signing?

Update September 28, 2017MMAFighting now reports that Lee has been pulled from the card.

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This week Ariel Helwani announced that flyweight Andrea “KGB” Lee has been signed to the UFC and is scheduled to compete at UFC 216 on October 7.

An issue, first raised by @dimspace on Twitter, which deserves further scrutiny is whether the UFC and their anti-doping partner USADA are bending the rules by this short notice signing.

The UFC has a commendable anti-doping program.  When new athletes are signed to the organization they have to enter the anti-doping testing pool prior to competing.

Rule 5.7.1 of the UFC Anti-Doping-Policy “ADP” notes that “An Athlete who has not previously competed in UFC, may not compete in UFC Bouts until he/she has executed a Promotional Agreement with UFC and made him/herself available for Testing
for a minimum period of one month before his/her first UFC Bout“.

Its not clear what day Lee signed with the UFC but presumably she did so at least one month prior to this bout.  Even if not, however, there is an exception to this rule for fighters who are a late replacement for another fighter with Rule 5.7.6 having the following overriding clause

The one-month notice period requirement for an Athlete subject
to Articles 5.7.1 and 5.7.2 shall be waived automatically where
he/she is named to a Fight Card as a replacement for an Athlete
who was withdrawn from the Fight Card due to loss of eligibility,
injury or other event not reasonably foreseeable to UFC.

The issue, however, is Lee has a previous prohibited substance violation in Nevada.

Lee served a 9 month suspension after admitting to ingesting diuretics – canrenone and spironolactone at InvictaFC 16, a bout regulated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.  The suspension had her sidelined until December, 2016.

The ADP has special rules for new fighters with an “established and verifiable history of the Use…of a substance…that is classified as prohibited at all times on the Prohibited List“.

Both canrenone and spironolactone are indeed prohibited at all times under the current WADA Prohibited List with the substances being listed under S5 as banned “Diuretics and Masking Agents”.

Under s. 5.7.4 of the ADP, new fighters with a verifiable history of use of a substance prohibited at all times “shall not be permitted to compete in UFC Bouts until he/she has made him/herself available for Testing for a minimum period of six months before competing“.

The only exceptions to this mandatory requirement are if the athlete had a Therapeutic Use Exemption at the time they ingested the product (which Lee did not) or if USADA decides to grant Lee a TUE for the product which presumably they have not.

In short, unless a USADA retroactive TUE is in place or unless Lee has been in the testing pool for 6 months it appears Section 5.7.4 is not being complied with which reads as follows

A new or returning Athlete who admits or has an established
and verifiable history of the Use, Attempted Use or Possession of
a substance or method that is classified as prohibited at all times
on the Prohibited List shall not be permitted to compete in UFC
Bouts until he/she has made him/herself available for Testing for
a minimum period of six months before competing. At USADA’s
discretion, such Athletes may also be required to provide a
minimum of two negative Samples during the minimum six-month
notice period before being cleared for competition. This provision
shall not apply in situations in which (i) the Athlete’s Use of the
Prohibited Substance or Method was pursuant to a valid TUE or (ii)
USADA subsequently grants the Athlete a TUE for the substance or
method in question.

I have asked USADA, via Twitter, to weigh in on this matter.  I will update this article if/when they reply.

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