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50 drug tests, no failures: UFC, Holm celebrate

On the various MMA websites, Holly Holm’s record is listed as 13-5.

On the United States Anti-Drug Agency website, it’s 50-0.

And counting.

On Thursday, Albuquerque’s Holm was honored by the UFC as its first fighter to have been drug-tested 50 times without a failed test.

Jeff Novitzky, the UFC’s senior vice president of health and performance, and vice president Donna Marcolini presented Holm with a commemorative jacket in a ceremony at Jackson-Wink MMA.

Holm said she greatly appreciates the honor and attaches high value to the UFC anti-drug program.

“I’m thankful that there is testing,” she said, “because (it means) I’m facing someone who is also clean.

“I’ve never wanted to use any kind of performance-enhancing (substance). It’s always been … that I know my own hard work and my will, my passion and everything is what I’ve relied on for a victory.”

Novitzky said that in evaluating the UFC’s five-year-old program – conducted in cooperation with USADA, which does the testing – it was deemed important to recognize the many athletes who repeatedly had tested negative, rather than make only announcements on the relatively rare occasions someone has tested positive.

As drug testing has become more sophisticated, he said, consistently testing negative has become more and more challenging.

For some time, he said, athletes who successfully reach the 25-test mark have been rewarded with commemorative T-shirts.

“There’s always automatically critics (saying), ‘Why are you honoring an athlete for deciding not to do steroids and not break the law; is that really worth honoring?’

“The answer is yes, because when you look, in this day and age of anti-doping, what you have to do to remain clean and clear is more than just waking up every morning and deciding ‘I’m not doing steroids today.'”

The sports-supplement industry, Novitzky said, has become a virtual tightrope for athletes to negotiate.

Two Albuquerque-area fighters scheduled to compete on Saturday’s UFC card at the Santa Ana Star Center, Tim Means and Diego Sanchez, have served suspensions after testing positive for a banned substance. In both cases, it was determined that use of a contaminated supplement was the cause.

Holm said that, predominantly, she sticks to supplements that she has used in the past and have proven safe.

Her concerns, though, extend beyond supplements. Even if offered a sip of a sports drink she hasn’t tried before, she said, she’ll decline.

“I’m like, ‘Yeah, I want some, but I’m not gonna,'” she said.

Drug tests have become so sensitive, Novitzky said, that a single picogram – a millionth of a gram – can be detected. Without mentioning him by name, Novitzky cited Holm’s Jackson-Wink teammate Jon Jones as an athlete who has tested positive for a level of a banned substance that could not possibly have enhanced his performance.

Holm called that scenario “my biggest nightmare.

“One picogram can really taint your whole legacy and have people question everything you do and everything you’ve worked for in your whole life,” she said.

Before Thursday’s ceremony, Holm was tested for the 51st time.

Clearly, Novitzky had no doubt – nor did Holm – that she’ll soon be listed by USADA as 51-0.

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