Conor McGregor to use drugs testing loophole for early 2023 return

Conor McGregor to use drugs testing loophole for early 2023 return

Updated: 4 days, 3 hours, 31 minutes, 40 seconds ago

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Conor McGregor claims that he will be available for drugs testing in February. The Irishman has been out of the USADA pool since the third quarter of 2021 and was expected to complete six months’ worth of testing before he was given the all-clear to compete as per the regulator’s rules.

However, the UFC does have the power to overrule this clause in ‘exceptional circumstances’ or where the rule would be ‘manifestly unfair’ to an athlete. Instead, the fighter in question would only have to return two negative drugs test in order to be given the all-clear. This exemption was exercised when Brock Lesnar made his UFC return against Mark Hunt in 2016.

Lesnar went on to defeat Hunt via unanimous decision. But the result was quickly overturned after it was revealed that Lesnar had tested positive for the banned substance clomifene. Given the backlash the MMA giants received from using this loophole previously, many believed that it would not be enacted for Notorious’ return but McGregor is convinced otherwise.

Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “I am clear for testing in February. I will complete my two tests per USADA and we are booking a fight.”

Conor McGregor says he will return early next year

UFC president Dana White recently confirmed that McGregor would have to re-enroll in the anti-doping programme for six months and didn’t disclose any plans to use the exemption again. Regardless of when McGregor will return, it is understood he will fight at welterweight.

McGregor has fought at 170lb three times during his professional MMA career – twice against Nate Diaz in 2016 and then again versus Donald Cerrone four years later. According to reports Justin Gaethje is the frontrunner to face McGregor next after recently disclosing plans to move up in weight.

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Justin Gaethje is the favourite to face Conor McGregor next

The pair have previously exchanged words online and there is certainly an appetite for the match-up given their exciting all-action styles. After Gaethje’s recent defeat to then-UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliviera in May, McGregor tweeted: “Gaethje is a jackass. The amount of absolute dribble he speaks as well. Over and over. A Grade A jackass!

“A bird brain with a bird brain manager. Two bum t**** they are. He is. A Jackass. Stevo-O crack head in recovery should see can Johnny give him a part.”

“This absolute clown! The aul pretend to be asleep after he tapped as well lol. Jackass,” McGregor added.

Gaethje hasn’t got a glowing opinion of the former two-weight world champion either. Speaking back in 2021, he said: “I think he's a b***h.

"he's scared to fight me, and his coach is smart enough to not let that happen. These guys have had their eye on me forever and they are too chicken s*** to pull the trigger. He does not have the confidence anymore.”