The legacy of PED abuse and drug testing in MMA
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 12:11
Christiane “Cyborg” Santos went before the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) earlier in April to plead for a shorter suspension after her post-fight urinalysis showed a positive result for Stanzolol metabolites. She claims it was from a “dietary supplement” used to cut weight. Santos tested positive after her 16 second knockout victory over Hiroko Yamanaka in the Strikeforce 145 lb title championship in December 2011. Santos asked that the Commission shorten her suspension to six months and allow her to pay her $2500 fine. Her request was denied leaving her to bask on the sidelines until next December. Also as a result of the tainted victory, Santos was stripped of her long held Strikeforce belt, changing the fight to a “no contest” decision and eliminating the 145 lb division of women’s MMA for lack of contenders in the weight class.
Perhaps a harder reality for Santos is that it will be difficult to overcome the judgment of fans who may now wonder if her outrageous sweep of victories over superstars such as Gina Carano and Marloes Coenen were also tainted with steroid use. (MMA Mania.com)
The timeline of positive testing for fighters has grown lengthy since 2007 when the UFC started cracking down on drug screens for contenders. In 2008, Carina Damm was the first female fighter to test positive for steroids and was also handed a $2500 fine and one year suspension. While Santos is the only other female fighter listed with a positive result, the number of male fighters testing positive is many and seems to be growing. The men also appear to result in having bigger fines with less suspension times.
Chael Sonnen was pronounced the same punishment of a $2500 fine and a one year suspension for extremely high thresholds of testosterone in 2010 following his submission loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 117. He blamed medical treatments and appealed the decision resulting in a reduction of six months. Looking at fighters caught in the past with the steroid, Sanzolol, in their systems, the same as Santos makes me wonder about the penalties and fines handed out by these Commissions. In 2003, at UFC 44, Tim Sylvia received a $10,000 fine and a six month suspension after a positive Stanzolol result. Sylvia voluntarily vacated his title. In 2008, Chris Leben had a positive result at UFC 89 after a decision loss to Michael Bisping which resulted in a nine month suspension and a one-third forfeit of his purse. In 2010, Vinicius Quieruz was released from the UFC from a positive result in UFC 120 and will likely never again gain a license to fight in the U.S.
Male fighters also appear to have an issue with repeat offenders. Josh Barnett was caught in 2002 with three different steroid metabolites in his system after a TKO victory over Randy Couture at UFC 36. According to Sherdog’s Mike Sloan, Barnett’s positive test result inspired Navada to test for illegal substances on a regular basis. Though it was never officially reported, Barnett also tested positive with two steroids at UFC 34 in 2001. Barnett’s abuse surfaced again in 2009 before his main event with Fedor Emelianenko for Affliction: Trilogy, resulting in the demolition of an entire MMA organization leaving 23 other fighters without paychecks.
Another repeat offender is Kimo Leopodo who had a positive test result in 2004 at UFC 48 and was punished with a fine of $5000 and a six month suspension. Later in 2006, two days before fighting Bas Rutton at WFA: King of the Streets, after a second positive test, Leopodo was pulled from the fight, but was granted no official punishment and went on to pursue a fight in Hawaii one week later.
The latest and most interesting repeat offender is Nick Diaz who has failed fight drug screens twice in his career not for steroid use, however, but for testing positive for marijuana metabolites. Diaz’s first pot bust was in 2007 in Nevada. The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended Diaz’s license for a year and forfeited $60,000 of his fight purse after a second positive result in his February 4th fight with Carlos Condit resulting in a controversial defeat for Diaz. It’s now been announced that Nick Diaz is taking legal action claiming the marijuana use was for medicinal purposes to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and he has a medical marijuana prescription card to prove it. However, this was not disclosed before the fight on the medical questionnaire and Diaz is disputing these allegations.
I anxiously wait to see how this will pan out, especially concerning such a debatable subject in this day and time. I don’t think marijuana would be considered as altering to a fight as performance enhancing drugs like steroids.
While substance use and abuse seems infuriating and intolerable to the Athletic Commissions and the UFC, in comparing what happens after the fact I wonder what determines second chances and consequences. I certainly believe the gender aspect plays a large role since Women’s MMA is still an uncomfortable concept to some. Does it count if you prove good behavior? Do you get brownie points if you have a superstar record, or great publicity potential? If you did a medicinal drug or ingested a tainted dietary supplement, is it that big of a difference? Yes, I really wonder, how does the MMA “drug policy” work anyway? There are too many contradictions in their own history.
UFC Fighter Nick Diaz Sues for blocked suspension by: Steve Green
Diaz fined, suspended one year by NSAC by: Jason Cruz