Doping in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC): A 4-year epidemiological analysis

Doping in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) : A 4-year epidemiological analysis / Mohamad Y. Fares, Hasan Baydoun, Hamza A. Salhab, Hussein H. Khachfe, Youssef Fares, Jawad Fares, Joseph A. Abboud. - (Drug Testing and Analysis (2020) 3 December)

  • PMID: 33270353
  • DOI: 10.1002/dta.2987


Background: Doping is a practice that is present in many sports and organizations, including mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The aim of this study is to explore the epidemiological patterns of doping among UFC athletes.

Methods: We screened the official United-States-Anti-Doping-Agency® (USADA) website, the annual USADA reports and the official UFC website for information on fighters and anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs). Our dataset included gender, age, weight class, testing numbers, date of ADRV, type of ADRV, and duration of suspension. Appropriate statistical tests were conducted to assess for statistical significance.

Results: USADA tested 1070 UFC athletes 2624 times as of late 2015 up till the end of 2019 (N = 1070). A total of 209 adverse findings were recorded; out of which, 102 ADRVs were committed by 93 athletes (8.7%) from all weight divisions. This constituted an adverse finding rate of 16.55 per 1000 test and an ADRV rate of 8.08 per1000 test. Mean age of sanctioned athletes was 32 years. Use of anabolic steroids was significantly the most common ADRV recorded (p = 0.018). The men's heavyweight division had an ADRV rate of 19.3 per 1000 tests, significantly higher than that of women's bantamweight division at 2 per 1000 tests (p = 0.03), women's featherweight division at 0 per 1000 tests (p = 0.009), and men's flyweight division at 3 per 1000 tests (p = 0.035). ADRV rate showed a significantly increasing trend among men's weight divisions (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Doping is present in mixed martial arts. Increasing testing numbers, raising awareness and education on the risks of doping, and conducting further research on the issue is key to help resolve this problem.


Research / Study
3 December 2020
Abboud, Joseph A.
Baydoun, Hasan
Fares, Jawad
Fares, Mohamad Y.
Fares, Youssef
Khachfe, Hussein H.
Salhab, Hamza A.
United Kingdom
United States of America
Adverse Analytical Finding / presence
Mixed Martial Arts
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American University of Beirut (AUB)
AUB Medical Center (AUBMC) - American University of Beirut
Lebanese University (LU)
Northwestern University (NU)
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
United Fighting Championship (UFC)
United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA)
University of Glasgow
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
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Substance use research
Doping control
Doping culture
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Date generated
22 February 2021
Date of last modification
3 March 2021
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