The world of MMA is a highly competitive one, where every fighter has to win on their own merits through sheer hard work, among other things. That being said, doping is very common in the word of sports and that’s why the UFC has strict rules about doping.
The UFC has recently emphasized the significance of a crucial reminder to all fighters regarding the use of intravenous (IV) therapy. The motive behind this move comes after Dan Hooker, a lightweight fighter, accused Islam Makhachev, the current UFC lightweight champion, of using IV therapy to rehydrate himself after weigh-ins for his main event championship bout against Alexander Volkanovski held in Perth, Australia during UFC 284.
Makhachev’s team denied Hooker’s claim, telling MMA Junkie the accusations were “completely BS.” Subsequently, this incident has ignited discussions surrounding the use of IV under the regulations of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
As a result, the UFC deemed it necessary to clarify any uncertainties about the allowed usage by issuing a reminder of the UFC Anti-Doping Program’s policies to its fighters. It is worth noting that the rules against IV use were first introduced in 2015 and were later modified in 2019. MMA Junkie provided a copy of the email fighters received, which outlines when a fighter may use an IV without the need for a therapeutic use exemption.
In light of recent discussions on the UFC Anti-Doping Program (UFC ADP) IV rules, below is a reminder of the rule as it has stood since the end of 2019. This rule, along with the entire UFC ADP, has been publicly posted since that time at ufc.usada.org. Additionally, multiple advisories on the IV rule have been emailed to UFC athletes, managers and support. Lastly, USADA advises all new UFC athletes on the UFC-ADP IV rule when they join the UFC Registered Testing Pool (UFC RTP).
The following IVs are now permitted without a TUE:
Those received in the course of hospital treatments, surgical procedures, clinical diagnostic investigations;
Those received by a licensed medical professional after a licensed physician determines that they are medically justified;
IVs of less than a total of 100 mL per 12-hour period;
Separate of the UFC Anti-Doping Program rules, athletic commissions require any athlete who receives an IV surrounding a fight to (1) obtain permission from the commission before receiving an IV and; (2) disclose use of that IV to the commission after its use. Despite the fact that IV use is now permitted under UFC ADP rules if administered by a “licensed medical professional after a licensed physician determines they are medically justified,” the required disclosure of such use to an athletic commission could jeopardize the licensing of the fight by the commission. Most athletic commissions and their medical staffs will further make a determination if a fighter is medically cleared to compete after IV use. Athletic commission IV rules vary from commission to commission, which is why disclosure of intended and completed IV use to athletic commissions surrounding a fight is required.
Starting from October 1, 2015, the initial rules concerning the use of IVs permitted fighters to receive infusions or injections of non-prohibited substances, as long as the volume of fluid administered did not exceed 50mL within a six-hour period. However, any use of IVs above 50mL, both in and out of competition, was strictly forbidden, except for cases where they were received during hospitalization, surgical procedures, or clinical investigations that did not require a therapeutic use exemption (TUE). Furthermore, a TUE was mandatory for any prohibited substances that were administered via injection or IV, regardless of the volume.