MMA Odds and Ends for Wednesday: Bigfoot Suspended For Flunking Post-Fight Drug Test

UFC-156 The UFC yesterday announced that heavyweight fighter Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva has been suspended nine months after testing positive for an elevated testosterone level in his post-fight drug test following his war with Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 33. In addition to the nine-month suspension, Silva was also stripped of his $50,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus, money that will be shifted over to Hunt. As well, Silva’s draw will be changed on his official record to a No Contest, while Hunt will get to keep a draw on his record for some reason. Here is the official statement released by the UFC:

“All fighters on the UFC FIGHT NIGHT card were drug tested by an independent third-party laboratory at the event and all fighters passed their drug tests with the exception of Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Although Silva is on a medically approved regimen of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), and had been in compliance with therapeutic guidelines on all pre-fight tests performed prior to the event, the results of his test on the day of the event indicated a level of testosterone outside of allowable limit. Silva has been informed that the elevated testosterone level is a violation of the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and his Promotional Agreement with Zuffa.  He will receive a nine month suspension retroactive to the date of the event and he must pass a drug test upon completion of the suspension before receiving clearance to compete again. Additionally, he will forfeit $50,000 in bonus money. The forfeited bonus will go to his opponent Mark Hunt.”

This is the second time in his career that Silva has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. The first time was in 2008, following his victory over the late Justin Eilers, when Silva was competing in EliteXC. He tested positive for the steroid boldeone, and was suspended for one year by the California State Athletic Commission, although he disregarded that suspension by fighting in Japan for that year. According to Silva in his appeal at the time, part of that positive test had to do with a medical condition he has called acromegaly (gigantism), as he had taken supplements with testosterone boosters to treat his condition. But it didn’t matter as the CSAC denied his appeal anyways. Just like he did five years ago, Silva once again said that there was a reason for his elevated testosterone levels, and this time it’s because he is on TRT and the UFC’s doctor in Brazil, Marcio Tannure, told him he had to increase his levels a few weeks before the fight. So he did just that, but apparently it was too much and Silva is now suspended for his infraction. Here is a statement by Silva regarding the suspension, as posted on his Facebook page:

“Clarification: Months before my fight I looked for the UFC doctor Marcio Tannure in Brazil so I could start the hormonal replacement “TRT” which was authorized and recognized by a professional. I started the treatment and 2 weeks before my fight I did all the exams required by the UFC. My testosterone level continued to be low so I was recommended by the doctor to increase the dosage. Unfortunately my level increased too much and caused me to suspend. I only did what was recommended by someone trained who understands about the subject therefore it was not my mistake. I’m cool because I know that the mistake was not made by me,I never tried doing anything wrong for my fight.”

I can’t say the news of any fighter testing positive for a PED is surprising, but I’m very sad about this particular one because the fight between Silva and Hunt was so terrific and I feel like the positive drug test is going to overshadow it in many ways. Should it take away from how great the fight was? No, probably not. But there is most certainly a stigma attached to fights where someone tests positive for PEDs, and this won’t be an exception. The only way this nonsense is going to stop (or at least be quelled) is if the UFC overrides the athletic commissions and bans TRT altogether, although it’s possible athletes on TRT may sue the UFC is this happens. In that sense, it’s about the athletic commissions — in particular, the Nevada State Athletic Commission — needing to put their foot down and outlawing TRT use completely. But, as we have seen over the course of the last few years, these commissions just don’t seem to care — at all. And that makes me very concerned for the future of this great sport that we all love. Very concerned.

Written by Adam Martin.

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