Elite level MMA has been under the microscope recently with unwanted drug scandals. From Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones pre UFC 182 cocaine use to former Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva’s reported anabolic steroid use prior to UFC 183 the sport has received more than its fair share of negative spotlight in recent weeks.
If elite MMA wishes not to be relegated to the fringes of the sporting world doping needs to be cleaned up. With MMAJunkie.com reporting that an astonishing 31% of known out of competition tests result in positive drug findings the problem appears pervasive. Although the sport had its roots in self regulated uncharted waters and overseas policies which arguably outright encouraged steroid use (as can be seen from the below clause from a Pride FC Fighter Contract), modern acceptance and continued growth of the sport requires a comprehensive answer to its doping problem.
So how many Performance Enhancing Drug busts have occurred in elite MMA? A member of MixedMartialArts.com’s ‘the underground’ forum has compiled the below sobering list. Doping can be weeded out with effort from Athletic Commissions and financing from elite promotions. A top down answer is needed and hopefully the sports regulators can stop the below list in its tracks before it continues to grow for the safety of future competitors and for the sake of the sensible growth of the sport –
Fighter, event, date tested, substance(s)
Josh Barnett (UFC 34): ?
Josh Barnett (UFC 36, 4/22/02): Boldenone, Nandrolone, and Fluoxymesterone
Tim Sylvia (UFC 44, 10/7/03): Stanozolol
Kimo Leopoldo (UFC 48, 8/16/04): Stanozolol
Nate Marquardt (UFN 1, 8/15/05): Nandrolone
Kimo Leopoldo (WFA, 7/20/06): Stanozolol
Vitor Belfort (PRIDE 32, 10/26/06): 4-Hydroxytestosterone
Pawel Nastula (PRIDE 32, 10/26/06): Nandrolone
Stephan Bonnar (UFC 62, 11/3/06): Boldenone
Kit Cope (WEC 25, 1/25/07): Boldenone
Johnnie Morton (Dynamite! USA, 6/13/07): ?
Royce Gracie (Dynamite! USA, 6/14/07): Nandrolone
Jorge Ortiz (Total Combat 21, 6/26/07): Nandrolone
Phil Baroni (Strikeforce: Shamrock v. Baroni, 7/7/07): Boldenone, Stanozolol
Sean Sherk (UFC 73, 7/19/07): Nandrolone
Hermes Franca (UFC 73, 7/19/07): Drostanolone
Anthony Torres (UFC 75, 10/3/07): Boldenone
Bill Mahood (Strikeforce Playboy Mansion, 10/15/07): Drostanolone
Adam Smith (Strikeforce Playboy Mansion, 10/17/07): Nandrolone, Stanozolol
Jason Winthers (Rebel Fights, 11/19/07): Stanozolol, Trenbolone
Ruben Villareal (WCO, 11/28/07): 4-Hydroxytestosterone
Dennis Hallman (Strikeforce, 11/29/07): Drostanolone, Nandrolone
Alexander Crispim (Strikeforce, 11/29/07): Desoxymethyltestosterone
Carina Damm (Femme Fatale Fighting 4, 5/15/08): Nandrolone
Alexandre Nogueira (WEC 34, 7/7/08): Boldenone
Antonio Silva (EliteXC: Unfinsihed Business, 8/21/08): Boldenone
Edwin Dewees (Afflication: Banned, 8/21/08): Nandrolone
Chris Leben (UFC 89, 11/3/08): Stanozolol
Kirill Sidelnkiov (Affliction, 3/3/09): Stanozolol
Ken Shamrock (WarGods, 3/11/09): 19-Norandrosterone, 19-Noretiocholanolone,
Josh Barnett (Affliction: Trilogy, 7/21/09): Drostanolone
Cole Province (WEC 42, 8/17/09): Methasterone
Chael Sonnen (UFC 117, 9/18/10): TRT violation (x4 legal limit)
Vinicius Quieroz (UFC 120, 11/2/10): Stanozolol
James Irvin (TPF 7, 3/2/11): Epitrenbolone
Thiago Silva (UFC 125, 3/29/11): Synthetic Urine
Nate Marquardt (UFC on Versus 4, 7/25/11): Elevated Testosterone
Cris Cyborg (Strikeforce, 1/6/12): Stanozolol
King Mo (Strikeforce: Rockhold v. Jardine, 1/17/12): Drostanalone
Alistair Overeem (Random Test, 4/4/12): Elevated Testosterone (14:1)
Rafael Cavalcante (Strikeforce: Barnett v. Cormier): Stanozolol
Stephan Bonnar (UFC 153, 11/2/12): Drostanolone
Joey Beltran (UFC on FX 6, 1/10/13): Nandrolone
Rousimar Palhares (UFC on FX 6, 1/10/13): Elevated Testosterone
Thiago Tavares (UFC on FX 7, 2/6/13): Drostanolone
Lavar Johnson (UFC 157, 3/19/13): Elevated Testosterone
Brain Bowles (UFC 160, 6/7/13): Elevated Testosterone (>20)
Ben Rothwell (UFC 164, 10/3/13): Elevated Testosterone
Robert Drysdale (Out of Comp., 10/28/13): Elevated Testosterone
Doug Marshall (Bellator 109, 12/16/13): Elevated Testosterone
Antonio Silva (UFC Fight Night 33, 12/17/13): Elevated Testosterone
Vitor Belfort (Out of Comp., 2/7/14): Elevated Testosterone
Herman Terrado (Bellator 115, 4/24/14): Drostanolone
Chael Sonnen (UFC, 6/28/14): human growth hormone, recombinant human erythropoietin (EPO), anastrozole, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)
Kevin Casey (UFC 175, 7/30/14): Drostanolone
Robert Drysdale (TUF 19 Finale, 7/30/14): Elevated Testosterone
Mike King (UFC Fight Night 46, 8/13/14): Nandrolone
Brain Ortega (UFC on Fox 12, 8/22/14): Drostanolone
Piotr Hallman (UFC Fight Night 51, 10/6/14): Drostanolone
Keith Berry (Bellator 127, 10/31/14): Elevated Testosterone
Nick Moghaddam (Bellator 127, 10/31/14): Elevated Testosterone
Anderson Silva (UFC 183, 1/19/15): Drostanolone, Androstane
Jon Fitch (WSOF, 12/13/14): Elevated Testosterone
The poster who created the above list went on to note the following questionable additions to this list
– Jeff Monson, for openly admitting past steroid use (even though he was never caught before or after a fight) and suggesting that steroids should be legalized.
– Kevin Randleman, for submitting a urine sample that lacked human hormones, following his submission loss to Mauricio Rua at PRIDE 32 in October 2006.
– Josh Burkman, who was scheduled to compete on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter until he tested positive for Stanozolol in a drug screening administered before the show.
– Jason Reinhardt, who admitted to using steroids for the majority of his career in a forum thread on mixedmartialarts.com.
– Dennis Siver, whose UFC 168 drug test came up positive for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a drug typically used post-steroid cycle to restore the size of the testicles and kickstart testosterone production.
– Wanderlei Silva, for fleeing the premises when a sample collector sent by the NSAC showed up at his gym to administer a random drug test in May 2014. (Update February 18, 2016 – this week the NSAC handed Silva a three year ban for this infraction following a prolonged legal battle.)
– Chael Sonnen, for testing positive for a pair of estrogen blockers, as well as HGH, EPO, and hCG following a random drug test in May 2014.
– Ali Bagautinov, whose failed a random-drug test for EPO before his decision loss to Demetrious Johnson at UFC 174.
Update February 10, 2015 – Hector Lombard (UFC 182): desoxymethyltestosterone
Update February 17, 2015 – Anderson Silva (UFC 183) January 31, 2015 Drostanolone
Update February 17, 2015 – Ashlee Evans-Smith (UFC 181) hydrochlorothiazide
Update March 16, 2015 – Alexander Shlemenko (Bellator 133) elevated testosterone levels along with a second unidentified substance. He was originally suspended for three years by the CSAC but a judicial review reduced the suspension to one year.
Update April 9, 2015 – Jorge de Olivera (UFC Fight Night 62) Stanozolol
Update June 18, 2015 – Rony Jason (UFC Fight Night 67) hydrochlorothiazide, a banned diuretic. 9 month suspension.
Update July 6, 2015 – Gilbert Melendez, (UFC 188) Testosterone. One Year Suspension.
Update July 17, 2015 – Augusto Montano (UFC 188) Testosterone. One Year Suspension.
Update October 10, 2015 – Amilcar Alves (Shooto Brazil 56) 19-Norandrosterone – Two Year Suspension
Update October 10, 2015 – Fabio Lima Ferreira (Shooto Brazil 56) Stanozolol and Methylhexaneamine – Two Year Suspension
Update November 3, 2015 – Pedro Munhoz (UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Saffiedine’ in Halifax, Nova Scotia) Exogenous testosterone. One year suspension. Side note – Exogenous testosterone is not listed in Nova Scotia’s scant list of prohibited substances and arguably this failure is not a failure at all given the regulatory scheme.
Update November 11, 2015 – Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic was provisionally suspended due to a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation. He admitted to HGH use and was handed a two year suspension by USADA. Ironically the sample then came back clean but his suspension stuck due to his admission.
Update December 23, 2015 – Glieson Tibau has now apparently failed a second PED test following an in competition test by USADA at UFC Fight Night 77. Tibau admitted to using EPO and was handed a two year ban by USADA
Update January 12, 2016 – Yoel Romero has a “potential anti doping violation” from a USADA out of competition test. A UFC Press release advised as follows “The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed Yoel Romero of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection.“. (Update April 4, 2015 – the substance in question was Ibutamoren and USADA, through independent testing, confirmed it was likely ingested through a tainted supplement and a 6 month suspension was agreed upon.
Update February 2, 2016 –the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed Abdul-Kerim Edilov of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection. Apparently the finding was for Meldonium. Update October 21, 2106 – Edilov accepted a 15 month suspension for the violation.
Update February 3, 2016 – Tim Means was pulled from his schedule bout against Donald Cerrone after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Tim Means of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection. On June 10 a deal was reached with USADA and a 6 month suspension was agreed to for ingestion of Ostarine.
Update February 4, 2016 – Rafael Sobral (Shooto Brazil) Drostanalon. Two year suspension.
Update February 10, 2016 – Konstantin Erokhin (TUF 22 Finale) drostanolone
Update March 11, 2016 – The UFC reports that an out of competition sample collected from Felipe Olivieri in Brazil in January 2016, and analyzed at the WADA accredited laboratory in Rio de Janeiro, was recently reported to USADA as containing a prohibited substance. (Further update January 25, 2017 – the matter proceeded to arbitrtion and Olivieri was handed a 2 year suspension for methyltestosterone metabolites in an out-of-competition drug test stemming from a sample collected Jan. 11, 2016)
Update March 11, 2016 – Both Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock are reported to have failed drug tests at Bellator 149. Slice tested positive for Nandrolone and had an elevated T/E ratio, Shamrock tested positive for Nandrolone, Methadone and also had an elevated T/E ratio. Slice was handed a $2,500 fine, initially was under a 90 day administrative licence suspension and ultimately had his licence revoked. Shamrock had his fight licence revoked for a year by Texas.
Update March 31, 2016 – Andrea Lee (Invicta 16) Banned Diuretics
Update April 8, 2016 – Frank Mir was notified by USADA of “a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an in-competition sample collected the day of his fight on March 20, 2016 in Brisbane, Australia” Mir has denied wrongdoing. Update April 21, 2017 – Today Mir was handed a 2 year ban for this violation.
Update April 12, 2016 – Viscardi Andrade “was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Viscardi Andrade of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on March 7, 2016.”. Andrade denies wrongdoing and has asked his B sample to be tested and is awaiting results. – Update March 21, 2017 – Today USADA revealed the substance was Stanzolol and handed Andrade a 2 year suspension.
April 13, 2016 – Lyoto Machida declared the usage of a banned substance during an out-of-competition sample collection conducted by USADA. Results management process pending. (Update November 16, 2016 – Machida accepted an 18 month suspension for this violation, reduced from 24 months for his ‘prompt admission‘)
April 15, 2016 – Islam Makhachev was informed by USADA of “a potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation involving Meldonium, a prohibited substance, stemming from a recent out-of-competition sample collection” resulting in him being pulled from UFC on Fox19 matchup. The press release notes the issues in detecting the elimination rates of Meldonium meaning there is a possibility the substance was ingested prior to it becoming banned on January 1, 2016. Update July 27, 2016 – Today USADA announced the athlete “accepted a finding of no-fault” and took no further action against Makhachev with a press release noting “After a thorough review of the case, USADA concluded that the extremely low meldonium concentration in the athlete’s urine sample, combined with the athlete’s explanation of use, was consistent with ingestion prior to the substance being officially prohibited on January 1, 2016. Based on the latest guidance offered by WADA on June 30, 2016, for cases involving meldonium, Makhachev will not face a period of ineligibility for his positive test.”
April 28, 2016 – Fabio Maldanado admitted to using DHEA during his last bout in the UFC.
Update May 13, 2016 – Carlos Diego Ferreira was flagged for “a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation, stemming from a recent out-of-competition sample collection” and pulled from his scheduled bout against Abel Trujillo on May 29 in Las Vegas. The NSAC suspended Ferreira 12 months revealing the prohibited substance was Ostarine. USADA, handed Ferreira a 17 months suspension for the same infraction.
Update June 10, 2016 – Today the UFC announced that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Chad Mendes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection. Further Update July 10 – today USADA revealed the substance was Growth Hormone-Releasing Hexapeptide and issued Mendes a a two year period of ineligibility.
Update June 27, 2016 – Today USADA suspended BJ Penn for 6 months for admitted out of competition IV use.
Update July 2, 2016 – the UFC announced that Daniel Omielanczuk was flagged for a potnetial anti doping violation for Meldonium but he was not provisionally suspended and USADA is allowing him to proceed with his next scheduled bout (unlike Makhachev and Abdul-Karim Edilov, as outlined above, who were pulled from bouts for Meldonium findings). Further update February 6, 2017 – Today USADA announced that they determined Omielanczuk ingested Meldonium “without fault or negligence” with the substance being used before being added to WADA’s prohibited list.
Update July 3, 2016 – “The UFC organization was notified that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Ricardo Abreu of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection.. Further update July 29, 2016 – today USADA announced that Abreu tested positive for 19-norandrosterone and 19-noretiocholanolone and handed him a 2 year sanction. Further update February 1, 2017 – Today The UFC organization was formally notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Ricardo Abreu of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection taken on December 21, 2016. Further Update May 5, 2017 – for this second anti doping violation Abreu was handed a 4 year ban.
Update July 20, 2016 – newly signed UFC Fighter Emil Meek was sidelined for 4 months due to “voluntarily disclosed medical treatment he received prior to signing with UFC that is potentially out of compliance with UFC’s Anti-Doping Policy.”
Update July 21, 2016 – UFC fighter George Sullivan was pulled from UFC on Fox 20 due to “voluntarily disclosed information to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) that could pose a potential compliance issue with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.” On November 8, 2016 USADA announced that he agreed to a one year suspension.
Update August 6, 2016 – Melvin Guillard was fined $10,000, had his win overturned to a no-contest and suspended for one year by Kansas Athletic Commission after testing positive at an in-competition test at Bellator 159. The Commission cannot release the name of the substance but says it “was not a performance enhancing drug”
Update August 9, 2016 – UFC Fighter Ning Guangyou tested positive for Clenbuterol in an out of competition test administered by USADA on May 19, 2016. USADA determined that the substance likely was ingested from `contaminated meat consumed in China` and used their discretion to issue no sanctions.
Update August 17, 2016 – Today the UFC announced that USADA has informed Francisco Rivera of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on July 23, 2016. The identified substance appears to be Clenbuterol and Rivera is apparently blaming the result on tainted meat consumed in Mexico.
Update August 23, 2016 – Li Jingliang was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for a positive drug test The UFC revealed that the substance was clenbuteral and that USADA is investigating but has not issued a provisional suspension. On September 2, 2016 USADA reported that the substance was “ingested by him without fault or negligence” and imposed no sanctions for this anti doping policy violation.
Update August 26, 2016 – UFC fighter Adam Hunter was pulled from his promotional debut due to a “potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on August 11, 2016.” – Update October 28, 2016 – Today it was revealed that tested positive for tamoxifen metabolite, boldenone metabolites, methandienone metabolites, drostanolone metabolite, and clenbuterol following an out-of-competition urine test ordered by USADA and conducted by one of its partner national anti-doping organizations, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, on August 11, 2016 and was handed a 2 year ban by both USADA and the BC Athletic Commission.
Update August 31, 2016 – UFC Fighter Augusto Montano received a finding of no-fault and received no sanction after he tested positive for trace amounts of clenbuterol as the result of an out-of-competition urine sample he provided on May 19, 2016
Update September 26, 2016 – Today the UFC announced that “U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Ruslan Magomedov of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection made on September 7, 2016”
Update October 24, 2016 – UFC fighter Lyman Good was flagged for a potential anti-doping violaiton by USADA and pulled from UFC 205. Update April 3, 2017 – Today USADA announced that Good “accepted a six-month sanction after testing positive for a prohibited substance from a contaminated supplement“. The substance was 1-androstenedione and its metabolite 1-(5α)-androsten-3α-ol-17-one and was found in an out of competition test. “Good provided USADA with information about a dietary supplement product he was using at the time of the relevant sample collection. Although no prohibited substances were listed on the supplement label, testing conducted on an independently sourced, unopened container of the product by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah, indicated that it contained 1-androstenedione. The presence of an undisclosed prohibited substance in a product is regarded as contamination.”
Update October 25, 2016 – Today the IMMAF announced a 4 year ban against amateur Mixed Martial Artist Jamie Herrington for testing positive for amphetamines in an in-competion samle collected during the IMMAF world championships.
October 29, 2016 – Today it was announced that UFC fighter Guido Cannetti was flagged by USADA for a potential anti-doping violation Saturday resulting in him being pulled from The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America 3 Finale on Nov. 5 in Mexico City
November 3, 2016– Today it was announced that Tom Lawlor has been provisionally suspended by the UFC following a potential USADA violation following an out-of-competition drug test administered on Oct. 10. Update February 24, 2017 – Today USADA suspended Lawlor for two years revealing the positive test was for ostarine.
Update November 3, 2016 – UFC Fighter Matheus Nicolau was informed by USADA of a potential Anti-Doping violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on October 13, 2016. USADA has provisionally suspended Nicolau based on the potential anti-doping violation. Further update March 29, 2017 – Today USADA announced that Nicolau accepted a one year period of ineligibility. The substance in question was anastrozole.
Update November 15, 2016 – Today it was announced that the “UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Zubaira Tukhugov of a potential Anti-Doping violation stemming from out-of-competition sample collections made on September 7, 2016 and October 29, 2016. USADA has provisionally suspended Tukhugov based on the potential anti-doping violation. The UFC is removing Tukhugov from his scheduled bout against Tiago Trator on Dec. 9 in Albany, New York, and is in the process of attempting to locate a replacement.”
Update December 22, 2106 – Today the UFC announced Cris “Cyborg” Justino has been notified of a potential anti doping violation stemming from an out of competition test.….Update February 17, 2017 – Today USADA ‘cleared’ Justino from the alleged violation granting her a retroactive TUE for physician prescribed Spironolactone.
Update December 27, 2016 – Today the UFC announced that Josh Barnett has been notified of a potential anti-doping violation following an out-of-competition test administered by USADA on December 9, 2016
Update January 26, 2017 – Today the UFC announced that “U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed George Sullivan of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection taken on January 14, 2017.
Sullivan is currently serving a one year suspension under the UFC Anti-Doping Program, for his use of a product containing the prohibited substance Insulin Growth Factor -1 (IGF-1). Sullivan was due to end his current suspension on January 31, 2017, and compete on the UFC 208 card in Brooklyn, New York, against Randy Brown. However, USADA has provisionally suspended Sullivan based on the new potential anti-doping violation, and the UFC has removed Sullivan from the UFC 208 card. ” Further update June 20, 2017 – Today USADA announced a one-year sanction for his second anti-doping policy violation.
Update February 1, 2017 – Today “the UFC organization was formally notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Justin Ledet of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on January 12, 2017″. Further update April 5, 2017 – Today USADA announced that “accepted a four-month sanction after testing positive for a prohibited substance from a contaminated supplement.“. The substance was 5α-androst-1-ene-3α-ol-17-one, a metabolite of 1-testosterone and 1-androstenedione which was contained, but not labelled, in a dietary supplement he was ingesting.
Update February 24, 2017 – Today it was revealed that Gian Villante was flagged for an anti-doping policy violation however he was granted a retroactive TUE for his use of an inhaler which had a prohibited substance as an active ingredient. Villante disclosed his use of the inhaler at the time of his USADA sample collection.
Update March 7, 2017 – Ben Rothwell was provisionally suspended and removed from UFC 211 after “The UFC organization was formally notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Ben Rothwell of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on February 6, 2017.”
Update May 11, 2017 – The UFC announced that Jessica Penne was flagged for a ” potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 20, 2017″ Of interest Penne’s sample initially tested negative based on the “standard out of competition analysis menu” but was then flagged for further testing based on her Athlete Biological Passport which showed “an increased degree of variability in urinary biomarkers measured in the sample”.
Update May 26, 2017 – Cortney Casey had her unanimous decision win overturned to a no-contest by the Texas Department of Licencing and Regulation after findings of an elevated T:E ratio in an in-competition drug screen. Update June 23, 2017 – According to Brian Stann she has been exonerated. This article is worth reading noting that no prohibited substances were found, that Casey simply had an elevated T:E ratio and that IRMS testing cleared her of any alleged wrongdoing. Update June 30, 2017 – Texas has now exonerated Casey and reinstated her win
Update June 15, 2017 – Amanda Ribas was flagged by USADA for a potential anti-doping violation and removed from her fight with Juliana Lima at the Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale on July 7 in Las Vegas, the UFC announced Thursday.