Kurt Holobaugh was recently suspended for nine months by the Nevada Athletic Commission for use of an IV over 50mL to rehydrate following the weigh-ins for a fight with Matt Bessette at Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series 1. Holobaugh’s was 2000mL.
Use of an IV to rehydrate after weigh-ins is common in MMA, but prohibited in the UFC, which uses USADA to conduct random, comprehensive testing. IVs are prohibited because they can mask doping. USADA largely follows WADA guidelines, and unbeknownst to Holobaugh, Nevada borrows many aspects too, including the IV ban.
Holobaugh, a single father of three, is now without a paycheck for nine months, or more.
The lapse came to light when Holobaugh volunteered it during a USADA interview that began when the fighter signed with the UFC after beating Bessette. DWTNCS is separate from the UFC, and not subject to USADA. Further, Holobaugh’s manager Bryan Hamper says the fighter checked on the NAC pre-fight questionnaire that he would be planned to use an IV. Hamper says an NAC official told Holobaugh to change the answer to say that he wouldn’t be using one, but did not clarify that the use was prohibited.
UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Jeff Novitzky, who oversees the USADA program, said given that fighters can go straight from DWTNCS to the UFC, he should have done a better job of fighter education on USADA and commission anti-doping practices.
“I really almost take a level of self responsibility on this one, because that Contender Series is a bit of a gray area,” said Novitzky to Marc Raimondi for MMA Fighting. “We really didn’t, until this happened, educate those fighters towards the IV ban or even the Nevada rules they’d be subject to are. We do that now going forward, but I wish looking back that we had, because I probably could have prevented that.”
The UFC drug czar also explained that the NAC was well within their rights to mete out the nine-month suspension and that it was on the low end of possible sanctions.
“I think that they realized that this guy wasn’t trying to break this rule or try to cheat on purpose,” he said. “Again, if not for his honesty, no one would have known about it.
“This guy was being honest. There’s no evidence whatsoever that he was intentionally cheating. It’s just some tough circumstances here. I don’t think Nevada did anything wrong. If anything, I put it on myself. We should have educated those Contender Series better and we didn’t. I put a lot of the blame on myself for this one.”