Fedor, Strikeforce heavyweights submit to Olympic-caliber drug testing
As a week full of promotional events rolled out in New York prior to tonight’s Strikeforce/M-1 Global event at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board quietly worked behind the scenes to collect the requisite medical data necessary to license all participating 20 fighters.
Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Silva, Andrei Arlovski and Sergei Kharitonov all submitted blood samples as part of the state agency’s random testing program for performance enhancing drugs; masking agents; prescription, over-the-counter and street drugs, NJSACB counsel Nick Lembo confirmed Friday. The Olympic-level tests will also document testosterone levels and ratios, said Lembo.
In addition to these four heavyweights, who are competing in the first two quarterfinal bouts of Strikeforce’s World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament, the NJSACB also collected blood samples from reserve bout contestants Shane Del Rosario, Lavar Johnson, Gian Villante, and Chad Griggs.
All 20 fighters will undergo urinalysis testing this evening prior to their bouts, said Lembo.
Emelianenko’s manager, Vadim Finkelstein, urged for more stringent testing during a press conference held in Moscow last month. Two of the eight fighters participating in the heavyweight tournament have previously tested positive for steroids under other state commissions, including Emelianenko’s opponent Silva.
Lembo said Finkelstein and his M-1 Global organization inquired about the state’s drug testing procedure prior to Strikeforce filing its permit application, but didn’t make any formal requests regarding it.
Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said the promotion would also implement its own drug testing during all tournament legs in any jurisdictions where it isn’t already employed. Strikeforce conducted its own urinalysis testing at an event in St. Louis last May, as the state’s regulatory body doesn’t do it on its own.
The NJSACB should receive test results in the next few weeks, though it will not release its findings to the public, per statutes under the Administrative Procedures Act. Lembo said past drug infractions have led to suspensions of 90 days up to two years.
New Jersey is the only state that conducts blood testing as part of its mixed martial arts’ regulation program, where it offers discounted rates to promoters through a local medical facility. The NJSACB began blood testing at UFC 78 in 2006 to supplement the urinalysis testing its been conducting since 1995.
-- Loretta Hunt, reporting from New Jersey