Do not get me wrong, I do not believe for a minute that the WADA testing policy is too lax. People are testing positive for something in their eczema cream. However, I do believe that combat sports are too easy on doping athletes when it comes to the sentencing.
Big draws in MMA almost benefit from a 12 to 18 month suspension. In the case of stars like Brock Lesnar and Jon Jones, a short suspension does not effect their popularity. it can even boost it. McGregor takes a year out on purpose to weigh up his options and wait for a superfight. ‘Absence makes the heart grow stronger’ as they say.
Granted, they aren’t actively fighting but in the world of social media, who goes anywhere? They are still in the public eye. While they are gone, contenders emerge and the dream fight talks begin, people start to wonder what would happen if they fought.
In some cases the suspended star even gets called out by active fighters. This was the case with Brock Lesnar, he was called out by Jones whilst on suspension and more recently, Francis Ngannou. A break from the fight game often builds anticipation for a fighter’s return.
A USADA suspension should be more of a deterrent. With that said, this should be on a case by case basis. What happened to Nick Diaz with the marijuana test and Chad Mendes with the eczema cream was criminally unfair.
However, it appears that change is coming. Recently Josh Barnett was found to be innocent of any wrongdoing when he was dealt a false-positive test. It took USADA a long time to clear him, but it is a start.