ONE Championship, a mixed martial arts promotion based in Asia has threatened a lawsuit against an athlete for what they deemed “defamation”, after said fighter made a Facebook post regarding their drug testing program, or lack thereof one, and how and who would be in charge of administering tests and overseeing results and reporting.
The fighter, in what he felt was hot water is Will Chope, a UFC veteran of one fight, a loss to Max Holloway. Chope is one of the most seasoned and experienced fighters in MMA with over 100 fights in various disciplines despite being just 28 years old.
His post was in response to an article from January of this year titled “ONE Championship claims drug testing to commence in 2019 through WADA” in which CEO Chatri Sityodong was quoted at a press conference on January 21st, speaking about the relationship between ONE and WADA at said press conference.
“It is true that we began doing WADA testing actually last year,” Sityodong told those at a press event, promising that more details were coming soon in the form of future announcements.
Chope’s Facebook post:
“If you read the article, you’ll realize the title is bullshit.
Supposedly they will be doing tests according to WADA standards. That doesn’t mean WADA is doing them.
It means their own officials will be doing the tests. Just. Like ONE hires their own refs, and judges for their shows….. It’s bullshit and biased. If ONE wants to ever get to the level of the UFC then they need a 3rd party to sanction their tests and shows….. But I doubt that will ever happen. ONE has an agenda. And as long as they are sanctioning themselves they can favor gyms and fighters.
I’m going to drop some inside knowledge and tell you the urine tests get sent to a lab in Taiwan. The doctor who tests these is a paid doctor that’s been working with ONE for years. Everyone knows ONE athletes are juiced. But this style of testing will allow ONE to hide results of guys they don’t want to be dirty and to throw guys that they don’t care about that are dirty under the bus. You can’t self-regulate privately and be non-biased and if you do self regulate it has to be public…….which it’s not! #F—kONE!”
Sityodtong actually responded to Chope, and quite favorably: “Thank you for your post Will. I actually agree with most of what you wrote. There are some errors, but I am not here to create beef. Unfortunately, when ONE Championship was started in 2011, there were no referees,judges, doctors, sanctioning bodies, staff, etc for mixed martial arts in Asia. We had to find good people like Oliver Coste, Warren Wang, Rich Franklin, Matt Hume,Ryo Chonan, etc to help out (or Asian MMA would have never taken off again). On a related note WADA has a network of certified WADA labs. Stay tuned for a big announcement as we officially roll out WADA testing through their labs. ( We have been doing test runs since late last year). We are far from perfect and have made a ton of mistakes. I agree with you 100% there. I am also sure we will make more mistakes in the future because we are traveling in uncharted waters in most of Asia. That being said, I know everyone working at ONE Championship is trying their best for Asian MMA. In any case, thank you for representing Asian MMA as the most active fighter in the world of combat sports. Your achievements are genuinely mind-boggling across MMA, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, Boxing, etc. Best wishes for continued success and happiness”The response almost feels as if Sityodtong was admitting that Chope was right. Very well thought out and worded, and not to mention polite as could be. Although ONE’s legal department seemed a bit more upset as evidenced by this letter sent to Chope.
Chope took his post down because he didn’t want the hassle of dealing with the ONE lawyers, but he may have taken his post down too quickly because there are some truths in it. After doing some investigating, there is one big one piece of misinformation, or an actual lie from Sityodtong that actually makes Chope’s statements more truthful.
According to the folks at WADA whom I reached out to for this story, in-particular Maggie Durand who is the manager of media relations and communications, “ONE Championship is NOT a World Anti-Doping Code Signatory; therefore they do not fall under our jurisdiction and we have not reviewed their rules, or testing program if any”. Durand asked me if ONE had made a claim publicly that they (ONE) were working with WADA and were implying that their athletes were being tested by WADA to which I responded with the articles and the actual quotes from Sityodtong stating just that.
Without having a law degree, it seems to me that ONE is guilty of misleading the public, and it’s own athletes like their Featherweight Champion Martin Nguyen, and highly touted prospect Garry Tonon, about a drug testing program that doesn’t exist, and in spite of touting WADA as their partner, they lied about that as well according to WADA.
ONE may be getting a taste of their own medicine from an organization that has the legal team, and the financial ability to stand up against them unlike just one athlete.
Christopher James has been in the MMA industry for 15 years, Working as a ring announcer for promotions like the XFC, Island Fights, Combat Night and Fight Nights Global during his career. Chris’ love for the sport and the athletes that partake in it led him to writing and doing face to face interviews with the athletes he admired and respected. Chris isn’t conventional by any stretch of the imagination, he has his own style, and takes pride in not being a “cookie-cutter” member of the media. Unique and sometimes controversial takes are what he brings to the table, forcing folks to think a little differently about the world of MMA. He also has a love for music as he has been a dj for 25 years and his love for music gets brought to the MMA world when he gets his guests to sing on his weekly show Cage Side with Christopher James which can be seen Wednesday nights on FACEBOOK LIVE, and soon via podcast.