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UFC News: UFC hires nation's best known steroid investigator Jeff Novitzky (updated)

Jeff Novitzky, the former FDA agent who became a well known celebrity investigator for his work regarding steroid and PED usage in sports in the BALCO case and involving superstar athletes like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones, was hired today by UFC.

The story broke within the last hour on twitter and the company confirmed it to us minutes ago and said a press release would be out shortly.

Novitzky's role will be Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance.

His role will be in house, and to, among other things, combat the use of PEDs in the company.  For both image and also in getting a true expert on the realities of PEDs in major sports, UFC could not have made a stronger anti-PED statement with this hiring. 

The following is the press release from UFC:

Novitzky to lead development of UFC athlete health and performance program

Las Vegas – In a further commitment to the health and safety of its athletes, UFC® announced today the hiring of Jeff Novitzky as Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance. Novitzky will spearhead the development of the organization’s clean initiative education program designed to ensure that every athlete competes with natural ability on an even playing field.

A federal agent for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2008, Novitzky led investigations into companies suspected of illegal distribution of dietary supplements and designer steroids. Prior to joining the USFDA, Novitzky was a special agent for the Internal Revenue Service in their Criminal Investigation Department, where he oversaw and investigated some of the highest-profile performance enhancing drug (PED) cases in professional sports. A former collegiate athlete who played basketball for San Jose State University from 1989-91, Novitzky graduated with a degree in accounting.

UFC is committed year-round to the health, safety, and education of its athletes. Led by Novitzky, UFC will continue to invest in state of the art sports science studies, further develop its out-of-competition PED testing policy and enrich its education and prevention programs.

“There is no bigger advocate of clean professional sports than Jeff Novitzky,” UFC Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Epstein said. “When we announced our commitment for an enhanced drug testing program in February, we wanted to ensure that the best people would be helping move this program forward and Jeff will lead the UFC in developing the most comprehensive anti-doping policy in professional sports.”

Novitzky added: “I am thrilled to be joining a world-class organization like UFC, that is committed to taking the necessary steps to ensure all of its athletes are competing in a clean sport. I am confident that UFC will be able to create a new gold standard testing program and implement it so a sustainable and level playing field is provided for all athletes.”

As part of its broader athlete health program, which includes the Athlete Accident Insurance Plan implemented in 2011, UFC announced in February the development of an expanded drug-testing program that will increase out-of-competition testing and pledged significant financial commitments for targeted testing protocols. Novitzky will play a leading role in the creation and implementation of the program, scheduled to be unveiled in July 2015.

Novitzky, who will join the UFC later this month in the organization’s Las Vegas headquarters, will be made available to the media in the coming weeks.