Australian Commission disagrees with claims that IV use is legal


Australian Commission disagrees with claims that IV use is legal

Islam Makhachev was accused of taking intravenous (IV) treatment to rehydrate after weigh-ins for his main event championship match against Alexander Volkanovski in Perth, Australia, after UFC 284 by fellow lightweight Dan Hooker.

The management of Makhachev refuted Hooker’s assertion, telling MMA Junkie that the claims were “total nonsense.” Nonetheless, the incident raised discussions concerning IV use under the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), causing the organization to remind the fighter roster of the UFC Anti-Doping Program’s standards in order to clear up any confusion. The initial restrictions restricting intravenous drug usage were enacted in 2015, but they were modified in 2019.

Dana White
Dana White

ESPN’s Brett Okamoto attempted to clarify the legality of intravenous drug use in mixed martial arts (MMA). According to Okamoto’s sources, it is not technically prohibited to use an intravenous line provided it is “medically justified and within the standard of care by a qualified physician and administered by a licensed medical worker.”

“There seems to be a misunderstanding across the sport on the prohibited or non-prohibited use of IVs … I myself was not completely aware of this until this latest high-profile example/accusation from UFC 284,” Okamoto wrote. “According to the UFC/USADA handbook, an IV can be used if it is ‘determined to be medically justified and within the standard of care by a licensed physician and administered by a licensed medical professional.”

“I sought further clarification and here’s the bottom line: If an athlete is administered an IV of more than the permitted 100 mL, as long as it’s done by a licensed pro it is NOT a violation, even in cases where dehydration (caused by a weight cut) is the issue being treated. In other words, IVs used to treat severe dehydration caused by cutting weight are not REALLY banned, as long as a physician is the one to justify and perform it.”

What does the Australian Commission say?

Jeff Novitzky, the current Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance for the UFC, offered some more information to back Okamoto’s report:

“Separate of the UFC ADP rules, athletic commissions require any athlete who receives an IV during fight week to (1) obtain permission from the commission before receiving an IV and; (2) disclose use of that IV to the commission after its use,” Novitzky wrote. “Despite the fact that IV use is now permitted under UFC ADP if administered by a ‘licensed medical professional after a licensed physician determines they are medically justified,’ the required disclosure of such use to an athletic commission could possibly jeopardize the commission licensing the fight.”

According to Novitzky, Makhachev may have been compelled to request permission to declare his use of intravenous drugs to a commission. Nevertheless, the issue goes far deeper: some sporting organizations have outright outlawed the use of intravenous hydration. Commissions such as the Western Australian Government’s Combat Sports Commission. And UFC 284 occurred in Perth, under its authority.

“The Commission also prohibits the use of intravenous therapies which are used for aiding rehydration from excessive and deliberate dehydration. Any promoter, trainer, or other person registered with the Commission found to be encouraging the use of such methods will be sanctioned by the Commission. Any contestant known to be using these methods will not be allowed to compete.”

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