A statement from the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association
Since the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) began its program in 2011, our mission has been steadfast – to remain independent and offer and promote effective anti-doping programs in boxing and mixed martial arts through testing and education. Our board of directors and officers have more than 100 years of combined experience in combat sports and anti-doping.
Some FACTS that have remained unchanged since VADA’s inception include:
- Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) remain a significant problem in boxing and MMA.
- Well over a thousand fights with no PED testing take place in the United States in an average year. And few fighters undergo PED testing in the weeks and months leading up to a fight.
- When PED testing is performed by state athletic commissions, the commissions seldom test for HGH (human growth hormone), EPO (blood doping) and IRMS (a test for exogenous testosterone), all of which are tested for by VADA. Only a handful of U.S. commissions use WADA-accredited laboratories (which VADA uses) and even fewer commissions utilize certified doping collection officers.
- VADA is independent of the many public and private entities in boxing and MMA.
- VADA is not a signatory to WADA, so we can adhere to what we believe is needed to maintain the strongest anti-doping program possible specific to combat sports under the financial constraints that we face.
- VADA has only one list of prohibited substances—and these substances are prohibited at all times during the VADA program.
- It is not VADA’s role to adjudicate results. And VADA cannot force entities who receive notice of our adverse results to act on them.
- Fighters who enroll in VADA do so voluntarily.
- Local athletic commissions and the Association of Boxing Commissions can choose to follow their own prohibited list. But if they enforce little or no drug testing, then this adoption has no meaning. It’s just words.
- Vigilance with regard to PED use is essential to fighter safety, which is our primary concern.
VADA stands by its decision to maintain a single list of substances that are prohibited at all times instead of having a separate “out-of-competition” prohibited list. Boxing and MMA are inherently dangerous. The hazards and risks are not limited solely to the day of the fight. VADA chooses policies that we believe are the best interest of the fighters, and VADA believes that two lists would place fighters at undue risk.
I won’t elaborate at length here on the risks inherent in the use of stimulants—whether during a fight or during training—including how stimulants act on the central nervous system and cause withdrawal side effects. These risks can be reviewed online. Putting aside these dangers, stimulants can enhance performance in ways that include, but are not limited to, increased metabolic rate, power, and strength. They decrease fatigue, aid in weight loss, and suppress appetite. They can provide an unfair advantage in competition.
VADA remains committed to supporting combat sports and protecting the fighters to the best of our ability.
Margaret Goodman, MD
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