Note: Since posting this piece, Andrea has confirmed that because she is fighting the weekend before the proposed try-outs it would be unlikely she could attend.
The UFC have also stated that the decision is not definite and the idea of a 125lb TUF is still being tossed around. Nonetheless, it still draws an interesting point about prior violations and athletes signed to the Ultimate Fighter going forward…
On Wednesday it was revealed that the upcoming season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ would feature the women’s flyweight (125lb) division, potentially crowning an inaugural champion, and creating a full division along with it. Try-outs take place towards the end of May with filming set to commence in June of 2017.
With the tournament open to both fighters outside of the UFC and fighters already on the roster competition for spots is likely to be hard fought, but one of the contenders to join the house could well be current Legacy Fighting Alliance champion, and Invicta stalwart, Andrea “KGB” Lee.
Attractive, American, with an unmistakable southern drawl, Lee would seem a perfect fit for what is essentially a reality show. Shes also a great prospect. Current Legacy champ she boasts a 15-5 record (9-3 Am, 6-2 Pro) with her only professional defeats coming to TUF alumni Roxanne Modafferi and the hugely experienced Sarah D’Aelio. Decent striking with an ever improving ground game, Lee certainly has potential. But there’s one problem.
In March 2016, following her loss to d’Aelio it was announced that Lee had failed a pre-fight doping control testing positive for the banned diuretics, canrenone and spironolactone both of which are prohibited at all times under the WADA code. Lee was eventually suspended for 9 months by Nevada Athletic Commission, and returned to competition in December of 2016 immediately winning the Legacy Fighting Alliance belt.
In April of 2017, USADA the administrators of the UFC anti-doping program updated their policy, notably now making provision for athletes that had previously failed tests.
5.7.4 A new or returning Athlete who admits or has an established and verifiable history of the Use, Attempted Use or Possession of a substance or method that is classified as prohibited at all times on the Prohibited List shall not be permitted to compete in UFC Bouts until he/she has made him/herself available for Testing for a minimum period of six months before competing. At USADA’s discretion, such Athletes may also be required to provide a minimum of two negative Samples during the minimum six-month notice period before being cleared for competition. This provision shall not apply in situations in which (i) the Athlete’s Use of the Prohibited Substance or Method was pursuant to a valid TUE or (ii) USADA subsequently grants the Athlete a TUE for the substance or method in question.
Put simply, because of her prior positive, Lee will be expected to spend 6 months in the anti-doping pool before she can compete in the UFC. While this will not apply to any fights in the TUF house, they are strictly exhibition bouts, it would apply to the finale, and any contract that followed as a result of the show.
There are two obvious get-outs for Lee.
First, USADA could grant some form of exemption, but considering how recently the positive test was, only a year ago, and considering also the profile of the show and the fact that she could ultimately fight for the title, that is unlikely.
The other option is, with tryouts on May 23rd, the UFC could feasibly sign her in May and get her straight in the testing-pool so her 6 month period is completed before the finale in December. (although, how USADA would feel about a fighter that is essentially on probation, competing albeit it in exhibition bouts remains to be seen).
Ultimately it may be immaterial. Lee has stated on occasions that the cut to 125lb’s is not easy and she and her team may feel that achieving weight multiple times over the course of the show is not possible and may prefer to sit out and wait for the call. But it could be, that her positive test in March of 2016, ends up being more costly than ever imagined.