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'I got a gun in my hand': UFC fighters' most memorable drug-testing stories

Julian Catalfo / theScore

Warning: Story contains coarse language

UFC fighter Cody Stamann woke up to a loud banging at the front door. He checked his phone and saw someone on his doorbell camera, but couldn't tell who it was. Stamann thought his house was about to be broken into. So he jumped out of bed - completely naked - and grabbed his handgun from his bedside table. He rushed to the door and swung it open, two hands on the weapon.

Turns out, the person at Stamann's front door wasn't a burglar, but instead a doping control officer with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), there to conduct a random drug test. It was the beginning of one of the most awkward drug-testing experiences of Stamann's life.

Most probably assume a random drug test is a straightforward, quick process: a collector shows up to a fighter's home or gym, conducts the test, and leaves with a sample. But it's not always so simple. Sometimes, fighters don't have to go to the restroom right away, and the golden rule is: testing officers must keep fighters in their sight until they receive a sample. Sometimes, fighters provide inaccurate whereabouts. Or it can be a combination of things. It doesn't help that USADA has a reputation for showing up at inconvenient times: early in the morning, or right before or after training. It's all made for some interesting stories over the years, like Stamann's.

The UFC's partnership with USADA ended Dec. 31 after more than eight years of USADA running the promotion's anti-doping program. The UFC announced late last year it was going in a different direction and unveiled a new anti-doping policy, with both Drug Free Sport International (DFSI) and the newly launched entity Combat Sports Anti-Doping (CSAD) involved.

Julian Catalfo / theScore

We wanted to close an important chapter in UFC history in a fun and unique way. USADA conducted thousands of UFC drug tests a year, and not every test went according to plan. So we asked fighters for their most memorable, hilarious, and/or awkward experiences dealing with USADA testing officers, going back to July 2015. Eleven agreed to share a story. (Responses were lightly edited for brevity and clarity.)


When self-defense goes a bit too far

UFC bantamweight Cody Stamann

It was 6 a.m. on a Saturday a couple of years ago, and Stamann had only been asleep for a few hours - he was out drinking the night before. When he heard a loud knock at his front door, he didn't think it was USADA because they don't usually bang on the door that hard. Hungover and half asleep, Stamann concluded someone was breaking into his house.

So I grabbed my gun - a 1911 .45 handgun - off my nightstand, I ran to the front door, and just absolutely ripped the door open, just standing there completely balls-out naked. I didn't actually point the gun at him but I had two hands on the gun, standing there in a fighting stance.

This guy turned around and he looked at me and he was like, 'Uh, I'm USADA, I'm here to do a drug test for you.' I saw immediately that he was a testing officer. I recognized the USADA T-shirt. I said, 'Will you give me just one second, please,' and he went, 'Take all the time you need.'

I went to shut the door and he was like, 'No, no, no, I gotta go with you.' I was like, 'Are you serious? OK.' So I went to the laundry room and threw some shorts on. Instinctively, I still had the gun in my hand. He asked, 'Will you please put that down?' And I was like, 'Yeah, dude, my bad.'

This guy was shook. He said to me, 'I just started working here this week.' I was like, 'Am I your first person?' And he said, 'No, you're my second.'

I never saw the guy again. That had to have been a terrifying thing for him: a naked man pulling a gun on you. He was trying to sign his name - they have a tablet where they have to sign their name - and I could physically see his hand was shaking. I shook this guy to his core.


A joy ride fueled by psychedelics

UFC lightweight Christos Giagos

Last spring, Giagos decided to take a day off from training because he was sore. He went for a bike ride instead.

I wanted to make the bike ride a little bit more fun, so I took some mushrooms - some hallucinogenic mushrooms. The bike ride was awesome. I was gonna do a 20-mile ride. I was on mile seven and I got a call. The mushrooms were kicking in pretty hard at this point, and it was USADA. 'Hey, we didn't get you at the gym today. Are you gonna be at your house?'

I was like, 'Ah, yeah, I have five more miles of this bike ride.' I lied - it was more. I was getting a little paranoid now because USADA was coming. I told them I would be home in five minutes but it took closer to 20 or 25. I was tripping a little bit on the way back.

Julian Catalfo / theScore

I met the officer at home and was able to keep my composure. As soon as I was inside, it made the trip worse. Being outside in nature is what made it all the better. To make matters even worse, I couldn't pee. So I had to sit there, tripping on mushrooms with the USADA guy in my house, waiting, trying to make conversation to the best of my ability, and chugging a bunch of water and drinking some tea. I pissed a little bit, but it only filled about halfway. Eventually I was able to fill it to the line and we were on our way. It just ruined my whole trip. It ruined my rest day, my fun day.

But we got the job done. And thankfully, mushrooms are legal, so we're good.

Restaurant-goers get a surprise

Giagos traveled home to Los Angeles from Florida in November 2022 to attend his brother-in-law's graduation from police academy. Giagos and his family went for a meal at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in downtown L.A. A woman from USADA called him and said she was at his mother-in-law's house, but she agreed to go to the restaurant instead.

They filled out the paperwork in the parking lot and then went into the restaurant to collect a urine sample. A male chaperone - an independent contractor with USADA - accompanied Giagos while he provided the sample in private.

There was only one bathroom. There were people in the restaurant, and when I went into the bathroom, the guy had to follow me in. People were looking. We got out and we were walking with the piss in a clear bottle inside the restaurant.

Right away, I looked at my family, like, my brother-in-law, my wife, my in-laws, and stuff. And they're all looking at me, like, 'Ah, look at this guy.' The whole situation was pretty awkward. It's a famous little hole-in-the-wall, so there was a bunch of people outside ordering food. It was pretty wild.


Rookie mistake

UFC lightweight Evan Elder

Weeks removed from his Octagon debut in 2022 and therefore brand new to the anti-doping program, Elder forgot to update his whereabouts on the app. Elder lives in Florida but went home to Missouri after the fight to visit family.

They called me for my very first random drug test, and I was actually driving back from Missouri down to Florida. They were like, 'Hey, this is Matthew with USADA, we're here at the gym to test you.' And I was like, 'Oh my gosh, man, I'm in Missouri.' And he said, 'Dang, man, I'm sorry. This is gonna have to be your fail.' I said, 'I totally understand.'

My stomach was in my ass. I felt my heart drop to my belly. I was like, 'Oh my gosh, dude. My very first drug test ever with USADA and I'm totally fumbling it.' I had no idea what it meant and I was super nervous. I didn't know if this was gonna be a huge deal, if this was almost gonna get me suspended or what.

Fighters were allowed three whereabouts violations over 12 months during the USADA era. Elder was fine.


An untimely phone call

Former UFC heavyweight Juan Adams

Adams, who competed in the UFC from 2018-20, woke up after spending the night at his then-girlfriend's home. Then USADA called.

We were getting in the moment before she had to go to work and I had to go to my workout. I was like, 'Alright, cool. Getting some.' And then literally as we were starting up, I got the call that they're at my aunt's house. I only had one missed test at the time, so I knew I wouldn't get suspended for multiple whereabouts violations. I just took the L on that one.

It was a 25-, 30-minute drive to my aunt's without traffic. So I wouldn't have made it anyway. And I wasn't about to ruin my mood. You can't go from that to having someone you're not attracted to looking at your penis. It's just weird.


Interrupted sleep angers fighter

UFC middleweight Eryk Anders

Anders got back to his hotel room well into the early morning hours after losing a unanimous decision to Marc-Andre Barriault at UFC 289 on June 10, 2023, in Vancouver. Not long after Anders went to bed, a USADA officer banged on his door at 7 a.m. looking for a sample.

I was like, 'Yo, what are you doing here?' That had never happened before. They never show up the day after a fight. I got tested the day before and they showed up Sunday morning. I was still hungover. I'm pretty sure there was nothing but alcohol in that piss.

I was pissed off. Part of me was like, 'OK, the dude's just doing his job.' So I try not to ever get mad at them. But at the same time, leave. And then they want to make small talk. I don't want to talk to you. I don't have very many good things to say to you right now. I just got into a three-round war. Have some courtesy.

I told my manager and they told the people who work with the UFC - the liaisons, I guess, with the UFC and USADA - and they were not happy with that.

USADA didn't respond to a request for comment.


Major spill turns into a party

Former UFC heavyweight Adam Milstead

Milstead came home from his day job one day in 2018 and found two USADA testers - an older couple - waiting for him in his driveway.

The three of them went inside and talked for a bit, and then he and the male worker went into his bathroom so Milstead could provide a sample.

He peed into the cup, finished going to the bathroom, and set the cup on top of the toilet tank. Milstead didn't realize the lid he'd set the cup on was a bit concave.

I went to go reach for something else, and just about that time, I watched my pee sample slide right off and spill everywhere, all over my floor. I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me.' The guy looked at me and he said, 'That's the first time I've ever seen that!'

I was like, 'Maybe come back tomorrow?' He said, 'Well, we kind of need a sample now.' I was like, 'Alright, well, how much time do you got?' He said, 'Well, you're our only sample today, so as much time as you're wanting.' We sat down at my kitchen table, and for the next hour, I proceeded to drink a lot of water.

An hour went by and I still didn't feel anything. I was like, 'Hey, man, I know you guys have been here for an hour, but I don't feel anything. Look, I have a way that I could probably pee really quickly. And it's gonna involve me drinking alcohol.' He was like, 'I mean, I guess?' I said, 'Are you sure that's OK? Because I will drink beer right now and then we can get this done in 30 minutes.' He was like, 'Alright, well, fine.'

So I went into the fridge and the only thing I had was a heavy IPA. Dogfish Head IPA beer. One of my favorites, but they're heavy. So we sat down and we had a little party. We were just sitting at my kitchen table after work, before my training, and I was drinking beer. About an hour went by - so this is two hours now that they'd been there - and I looked over and I had four of those bottles finished, sitting beside me. I was like, 'Huh, OK. I drank a lot.'

Julian Catalfo / theScore

Sure enough, it hit. I was like, 'Ooh, yeah, I'm ready, let's go pee.' I got up, and as soon as I got up, I realized I was drunk. I got drunk with USADA. And I was like, 'Uh oh.' I spilled my pee sample when I was sober and now I was drunk. I was just thinking in the back of my head, 'About 50% of this sample is gonna be beer.' I talked to the guy and he said, 'That's alright. We just need a sample.'

I pissed in a cup, it was straight clear, and I didn't put it down this time. I stood there, screwed the lid on, handed it to him, he grabbed it, put the label on, we signed it, and it was good to go.

The guy said, 'For as long as I do this, I guarantee I will not forget about this.'

Milstead cleaned up the urine on his bathroom floor after the USADA workers left, while he was drunk. He didn't make it to training that evening, and woke up the next morning a bit hungover.


Chaotic mansion awaits USADA

UFC bantamweight Garrett Armfield

About a year ago, Armfield had just moved out of his home in South Florida. His then-girlfriend's wealthy family offered him a free place to stay for a few months. They lived in a seven-bedroom mansion with Bentleys and Lamborghinis out front and way too many dogs and cats inside. Armfield gladly accepted.

One day at 7 a.m., two USADA workers went up to this fricking mansion thinking the house was mine. My ex-girlfriend's dad, he's from New York - great dude, but a strong New York character. He wears a chain, is covered in tattoos, and they have 20 cats and five dogs. And he chain-smokes cigarettes inside the house.

He opened up the door, and he's like, 'Who the hell are you?' Because that's how they talk - very brash. The USADA officers came in, and I sat down and started getting my blood taken. He was sitting there ripping cigarettes left and right as he was talking to them. I was just thinking that these USADA agents were probably like, 'Oh my god, what did I walk up to?' They were taken aback for sure.

Armfield lived there for four months before moving to Kansas City to be closer to his family.


Fighter gets to know his USADA staffer well

Former UFC bantamweight Louis Smolka

Smolka was at home in Hawaii in 2016. He woke up around 6 a.m., went to the bathroom, and a USADA officer knocked on his door 20 minutes later. Not great timing.

I was like, 'Dude, I'm pretty dehydrated right now. This is gonna take a while.' He was with me all day. And they have to watch you the whole time. So the dude watched me take a shit. He tried to make it not awkward, but it's still weird. I locked eyes with him and then I grunted. I was like, 'Alright, we've bonded now, we've shared something.'

I made him go with me to get beer to try to make me piss. We tried everything. I tried drinking water, that wasn't doing it. I tried caffeine, that didn't do it. I tried eating, that didn't do it. So I was like, 'Alright, I want him to leave me alone. I guess I'm not gonna do anything else today.' We walked across the street to the store and I got a 12 pack.

I was like, 'So, what's up, buddy, are we drinking now?' I started making friends with him.


Watching TV with the boys

Former UFC lightweight Matt Bessette

It was a week or two after Bessette's debut in 2018 when a doping control officer showed up at his house in Connecticut for the first time.

Bessette had just woken up - it was 7 a.m. - and used the restroom. The officer said that was OK and that it was quite common for athletes not to be ready to provide a sample right away.

He was there for three hours. I was drinking constantly. We ended up watching 'The Office.' I had nothing to do - just drinking water, talking. He told me some funny stories about other fighters - he alluded to the names of them without saying the names.

It turned out to be pretty funny. Sitting there for three hours in my living room, watching several episodes of 'The Office' together with the guy who was there to do a piss test. And then three hours is up, and I was like, 'You ready to look at my junk?'


Wrong time for USADA to show up

UFC featherweight Damon Jackson

USADA routinely went to Jackson's gym on Saturday mornings prior to his hard sparring rounds. One Saturday, Jackson told the officer he'd have to wait until after the training session to collect the sample; Jackson was two weeks out from a fight and didn't want to have to drink a lot of water before sparring.

He sat there the whole practice, and when practice was over, I had to go to a wrestling tournament, where I was coaching kids' matches all day. So he had to drive 45 minutes to the tournament.

Before that workout, I was already dehydrated. I had to drink like a gallon of water before I finally went to the bathroom. The officer had to follow me around from mat to mat for probably six hours. I didn't talk to him, because I was coaching kids and talking to parents. It was just funny, because it wasted his whole day. But I told him, 'Man, you guys can't come in right before rounds all the time like that.'

I have the same schedule every day. It's kind of annoying they always come in on my heavy sparring day. So I kind of thought it was funny. It was a little bit of payback to them.


A nerve-racking bathroom encounter

Editor's note: A current UFC middleweight spoke on condition of anonymity to protect the identity and privacy of the USADA staffer who collected his sample. USADA didn't respond to a request for comment.

It was August 2017, days after the fighter's first bout under the Zuffa banner, and a female USADA officer and a male chaperone knocked on the fighter's door. The fighter and chaperone went to the bathroom for a urine sample to be collected.

I walked in, was already unzipping, getting ready to pee, and he shut the door, and I was just kind of like, 'What the fuck? Why are you shutting the door?' And all of a sudden, he went, 'Hey, man, this is a really weird question to ask, and I know I'm not supposed to ask you' - and I was like, my cock is in my hand, I'm about to pee, the door is shut, this man is looking at me. What the fuck are we about to do?

He said, 'Do you think Conor McGregor has a chance against Floyd Mayweather?' I looked at him and was like, 'What the fuck?'

I said, 'Uh, anybody has a chance.' I felt so uncomfortable. It took me a second. I had to stop going to the bathroom, because I didn't want to pee in front of him. It was the most awkward situation.

As a fighter, I felt so vulnerable. And I thought I was about to be ... I was gonna have to fend for my life. It was just a really weird scenario. I definitely would have the upper hand against him, but think about it. Set the tone. You don't know what the fuck's going on. You're in there and someone's like, 'This might be a weird question.' There were so many situations that went through my head. Was he gonna try to ask me to do something, was he gonna ask to hold it, was he gonna attack me? I had no clue at all.

Afterward, we went back outside, and he was quiet the whole time. He didn't say a word, he didn't do anything. He just kind of sat there.

Since then, I've seen him multiple times. Anytime we see each other, it's very exciting. He's a great guy. He's just an old fella and means well. I've talked to him about it. He said, 'Yeah, it's kind of weird. I get it.'

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