All state athletic commissions are not created equal. Some states are better than others. Some have different policies. And some are transparent when it comes to things like drug testing procedures and results. Others, not so much. Missouri’s athletic commission, who is overseeing tomorrow night’s Strikeforce “Heavy Artillery” card unfortunately falls into the latter category.
With Alistair Overeem finally coming back to the states, the interest level in drug testing is much higher than normal this weekend, so it only figures that Missouri won’t say a word about it. Unlike states like Nevada and California, Missouri isn’t revealing what kind of testing they’re conducting or who they’re actually testing. Considering all the suspicion surrounding Overeem, you would think he would be at the top of their list, however the commission says there’s no guarantee that any specific fighter will be tested. Oh, and the only way they’ll confirm that Overeem was tested is if he fails and they take disciplinary action against his license.
Lame, right? Well, apparently Strikeforce thinks so too because they’ve decided to take matters into their own hands. Yesterday, Scott Coker told Carmichael Dave they will be testing every single fighter on tomorrow night’s card themselves after the weigh-ins today.
“In California, Nevada and other states drug testing is mandatory or sometimes it’s random…We stand aside because the commission’s doing the tests. The commission here [in Missouri] is drug testing and it will be random, and what we’ve decided to do is test all the athletes ourselves. That will happen tomorrow after the weigh-ins. Without a doubt all these fighters have to be clean, otherwise we’re going to have a problem, it’s going to be an issue. And Alistair, believe me, he’s fought in California twice and he’s tested clean both times…Let the guy go fight, prove himself, innocent before guilty, right?”
“We hired a lab here in town. The lab’s going to do the testing for us tomorrow after the weigh-ins. It’s something we felt was the right thing to do and all the fighters including Alistair had no problem with it. Let it be what it’s going to be.”
It’s a surprising and as far as I know unprecedented move. In the US, promoters, including the UFC, typically take a very hands-off approach to drug testing allowing the commissions to handle it. The only time I’ve heard of promotions performing their own testing is when the UFC goes overseas and handles all regulation duties in-house. I doubt Missouri is particularly thrilled about it, but as a fan, I find it commendable that Strikeforce is taking the initiative to ensure (or at least shoot for) a level playing field, even if their motivation is more about changing the perception of their heavyweight champion than anything else.