Are you wondering whether ONE Championship drug tests its fighters for steroids and performance-enhancing drugs?
In this article, we’ll examine whether ONE Championship drug tests its fighters for steroids and PEDs, whether any fighters have been caught, and whether ONE Championship’s drug testing will prevent doping.
Does ONE Championship Drug Test for Steroids and PEDs?
Since August 2022, ONE Championship has drug tested its fighters for steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, carried out by International Doping Tests & Management.
The partnership started at ONE 160 on August 26, 2022, in Singapore.
While ONE Championship hasn’t released information on the exact anti-doping process, on IDTM’s website, the independent organization claims to test athletes via blood and urine samples.
As of 2023, around 700 sports organizations adhere to the WADA Code.
Within the WADA Code is the International Standard for Testing and Investigations – a 92-page document detailing the testing process.
However, it doesn’t give exact measures and instead allows independent anti-doping organizations to develop their own Test Distribution Plan.
This means we need more information from IDTM about the exact testing plan it uses for ONE Championship.
Nevertheless, so far we can see ONE Championship fighters are tested both in and out of competition – but it’s unknown which test is used when and where (blood or urine).
In-competition refers to the period commencing at 11:59 p.m. on the day before a competition. Out-of-Competition refers to any period which isn’t In-Competition, which in MMA is usually a post-fight test after the fight.
Drug test samples are collected and processed by a Doping Control Officer (DCO) who works for International Doping Tests and Management (IDTM), of which they have 500.
ONE Championship is often criticized for a lack of transparency over topics such as its weigh-ins and weight-cutting system, but we know ONE Championship anti-doping is legitimate because fighters are being caught.
They were infamously criticized in 2019 after Chatri Sityodtong (CEO) claimed ONE Championship had been drug testing its fighters since 2018, carried out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
However, this wasn’t true, and WADA confirmed they weren’t ONE Championship’s third-party drug tester.
ONE Championship Drug Test Suspensions (Fighters Caught)
At the time of writing (5th August), nearly 1 year after ONE Championship started drug testing its fighters for steroids and PEDs, five fighters have failed anti-doping tests.
The most recent fighter to get caught, suspended, and stripped of his ONE Championship bantamweight title was Thai kickboxer Petchtanong Petchfergus.
Petchtanong Petchfergus was found to have taken banned anabolic steroids, methenolone, and boldenone, in an Out-of-Competition test on July 10, 2023.
This test was 8 months after his last fight on 19th November 2022, where he was also without a scheduled bout.
He’s since called for clarity over ONE Championship’s drug testing rules, which makes it seem the timing of Out-of-Competition tests is randomized to catch fighters off guard.
In an Instagram post, Petchfergus admitted to taking PEDs to treat an aching left elbow.
He also wrote, “I went to see the doctor to receive treatment and an injection. In general, boxers, when they are injured or have chronic injury, would receive medical treatment or injection.”
Here he’s referring to how steroids are legal and available over the counter in Thailand from many pharmacies. But this would make you think it’s only Thai fighters taking steroids and PEDs right? Wrong.
In order of when they were caught, the other ONE Championship fighters failing anti-doping tests are:
- Martin Batur (Croatian) – failed an In-Competition test at ONE 160 and had his win overturned to a no-contest, plus a 1-year suspension.
- Jasur Mirzamukhamedov (Uzbekistani) – failed an In-Competition test due to a metabolic modifier and was suspended for 6 months and also released by ONE.
- Kairat Akhmetov (Kazakhstani) – failed an Out-of-Competition test and was suspended for 6 months.
- Julie Mezabarba (Brazilian) – failed an In-Competition test on April 22 and was suspended for 18 months and also released by ONE.
So, 1 year after its introduction, 5 ONE Championship fighters have been caught by the new anti-doping organization.
Will ONE Championships Drug Testing Prevent Doping?
ONE Championships Drug Testing will not prevent its fighters from doping, but it may reduce it and change how they’re taken.
It will change how ONE Championship fighters take steroids and performance-enhancing drugs regarding timing, doses, and even the types they take.
ONE Championships fighters may take their drugs further out from the fight and look to retain as much of the benefits as possible while passing the tests.
One benefit is increased recovery allowing them to train harder and more often during the off-season.
They’ll also take anabolic steroids and PEDs which are undetectable by the tests conducted by International Doping Tests & Management, known as designer drugs.
Designer drugs are designed to closely resemble existing steroid/PED compounds but are different enough so fighters won’t get popped by an anti-doping test.
ONE Championships drug testing won’t prevent doping among its fighters because performance-enhancing drugs are required to be at the highest level in any combat sport – and ONE is one of the top MMA promotions.
PEDs are pervasive at the top level of every single combat sport. Why? Because they work.
Clean fighters have significantly reduced odds against a fighter of the same skill level on PEDs. They have benefits such as increased power, aggression, speed, cardiovascular endurance, recovery, bone density, and the list goes on.
And if there are anti-doping tests brought in to prevent it, there’ll simply be workarounds because there’s money to be made for fighters, those guiding the drug administration, and the manufacturers/sellers.
Owners of MMA promotions like ONE, Bellator, and the UFC want their fighters to take PEDs, they just don’t want them to be caught because it results in canceled fights and suspensions.
Anabolic steroids and PEDs increase the quality of fights and attract more viewers. Promotions bring in anti-doping testing to quieten the ‘cheating’ stigma and look more respectable and professional to the general public.
Aside from testing for steroids and performance-enhancing drugs, the partnership ensures fighters can no longer cheat ONE’s hydration test by using diuretics and intravenous fluids (IV).
However, fighters can still use diuretics and IVs if they’re granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE).
IDTM also offers a TUE service ONE Championship can use.
The Bottom Line
So, ‘Does ONE Championship drug test for steroids and PEDs?’
Yes, ONE Championship has been drug testing its fighters for steroids and PEDs since its partnership began with International Doping Tests & Management in August 2022.
IDTM is an independent organization following the anti-doping policies, rules, regulations, and banned substances as laid out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code document.
This includes both in and Out-of-Competition blood and urine sample testing of fighters.
While ONE hasn’t clearly laid out the exact protocol, based on the 5 fighters caught in the first year, it seems the Out-of-Competition testing is conducted randomly.
This is causing confusion among fighters because they’re wondering how they can continue taking PEDs and evade getting caught.
If more information regarding the exact protocol of drug testing is released, this article will be updated.