Back in the Pool: Conor McGregor Re-Entering USADA Program “Immediately”

Conor McGregor, UFC 264
Conor McGregor, UFC 264 official weigh-in Credit: Gabriel Gonzalez/Cageside Press

We may be one step closer to the return of Conor McGregor to active competition.

On Friday, McGregor spoke to media at The Black Forge Inn, the Dublin pub he owns and operates.

Asked if he was back in the USADA testing pool, the former double-champ replied “That’s done. That’s done man. By year-end, I’m back in that cage having competed. I’m gearing up now, ready to go.”

Confirming that yes, the fight would come against Michael Chandler, who he coaches opposite on The Ultimate Fighter 31, McGregor added “It’ll be announced during The Ultimate Fighter.”

The show launches later this month.

It was revealed last year that McGregor had pulled out of USADA’s testing pool while rehabbing the leg he broke in his trilogy fight with Dustin Poirier in July of 2021. While never confirming his retirement, in essence, McGregor’s return to action is being treated as if he was retired.

That means six months in the USADA testing pool, and two negative tests. While the UFC does have the option of granting an exemption to that window, USADA has consistently stated they believe McGregor should be subject to the full six months of drug testing.

In a statement provided to Cageside Press and other media outlets on Friday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency confirmed that stance, and that McGregor was expected to return to the testing pool “immediately.”

“We have recently been in direct contact with Conor McGregor, and as he confirmed today in the media, we expect to receive his paperwork coming out of retirement and re-entering the USADA testing pool immediately. Like other athletes who come out of retirement, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, McGregor will be subject to testing for at least six months and must provide at least two negative samples before being permitted to compete. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that all athletes who are not subject to a period of testing are adequately tested over a reasonable period of time before competing to ensure a level playing field for all athletes.”

Under an update to the UFC’s Anti-Doping Policy enacted late last year, McGregor must also declare the use of any banned substances he used for twelve months prior to re-entering the USADA program (h/t MMA Mania).

“Upon being added to the UFC Ant-Doping Program, athletes are also required to declare prohibited substances they have used in the previous 12 months, prior to being in USADA’s testing program. An Athlete who makes such a declaration, depending on the substance, will be required to refrain from competition for a period of at least six months and provide at least two negative samples to ensure that they do not compete in a UFC bout with a performance advantage.”

While the UFC could throw a curve ball and grant McGregor an exemption from testing, with December now the date McGregor appears to be targeting, it likely won’t be required.