Jeff Novitzky, an agent with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2008, has been appointed by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the largest mixed martial arts promotion company, as their 'Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance'.
According to a Monday release from the UFC, the former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) special agent will join the Las Vegas-based organization later this month. In the sports world, Novitzky is known as a prominent anti-doping investigator and have overseen some of the most highly publicized steroid cases including investigations into the BALCO (Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative) lab, Roger Clemens, and Lance Armstrong. He previously worked as a special agent in the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Department.
Jeff Novitzky was a critical source of information in the Mitchell Report about doping in Major League Baseball. He investigated doping allegations against some of the most eminent names in the world of professional sports, including Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Marion Jones, Floyd Landis, Tyler Hamilton, Tim Montgomery, Victor Conte, Justin Gatlin, Jose Canseco, and Lance Armstrong. Novitzky has often been compared to famed IRS investigator Elliot Nes.
On the announcement of his appointment, Novitzky said he is thrilled to be joining a world-class organization like UFC that is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure all of its athletes are competing in a clean sport. The prominent anti-doping investigator added he is confident that UFC will be able to create a new gold standard testing program and implement it so a sustainable and level playing field is provided for all athletes.
In a statement, UFC said Novitzky will spearhead the development of the organization's clean initiative education program designed to ensure that every athlete competes with natural ability on an even playing field. Lawrence Epstein, UFC's senior executive vice-president and CEO, said there is no bigger advocate of clean professional sports than Jeff Novitzky and added that 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.
Lawrence Epstein also remarked that UFC will urge athletic commissions to impose or accept far more severe doping penalties. UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta said the largest mixed martial arts promotion company was holding talks with "numerous'' drug-testing organizations for setting expanded drug testing protocol using World Anti-Doping Association standards.
In 2015, UFC has been hit hard by doping. Former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, considered by many as the sport's greatest ever fighter, tested positive for anabolic steroids twice around UFC 183 in January. Welterweight contender Hector Lombard also tested positive for anabolic androgenic steroids at UFC 182 and Nick Diaz tested positive for marijuana. Light-heavyweight champion Jon (Bones) Jones tested positive for cocaine before UFC 182.
UFC announced a revamped testing policy that will take effect on July 1 this year and will subject all fighters to random drug tests.