How Lyoto Machida May Cut his USADA Doping Ban in Half

Update November 16, 2106Today it was announced that Machida accepted a 18 month suspension with the reduction being due in part to his “prompt admission”.

Update November 8, 2016Today it was announced that George Sullivan had his USADA suspension cut in half due in part to his self disclosure giving hope to Machida that the below may be sound strategy


Yesterday it was revealed that Llyoto Machida “declared the usage of a banned substance during an out-of-competition sample collection” by the United States Anti Doping Agency.

This caused the UFC to remove him from his upcoming fight with Dan Henderson and Machida will have to await his results management process (ie discipline hearing) from USADA.

As was recently learned from the Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic experience, self admitted ingestion of a banned substance is enough to warrant sanctions from USADA where Cro-Cop was handed a two year ban for admitted HGH use in the face of a negative test.

So is Machida facing a similar fate?  Possibly not.  Machida’s legal team can and should take advantage of Section 10.6.2 of the Anti-Doping Policy which may act to reduce his penalty.

Here’s the breakdown –

Using a substance banned out of competition leads to a default 2 year period of ineligibility under section 10.2.1 of the Policy.

Machida will not be able to use the Romero ‘contaminated product’ defence nor take advantage of the Policy’s no-negligence sections as he could have realized the product he was taking, through due diligence, was prohibited.

However, there is a further section of the policy that has yet to be tested by athletes that may prove beneficial.  Section 10.6.2 of the Policy allows an athlete who comes clean to USADA first to have his penalty cut in half.

Specifically the section states that “Where an athlete….voluntarily admits the commission of an anti-doping policy violation before having received notice of a Sample collection which could establish an Anti-Doping Policy Violation…and that admission is the only reliable evidence of the violation at the time of admission then the period of ineligibility may be reduced, but not below one-half of the period of Ineligibility otherwise applicable“.

The only unclear matter is the clunky wording of the obligation to come clean before receiving “notice of a sample collection which could establish an Anti-Doping Policy Violation”.

If this means you have to come clean before USADA comes knocking on your door to collect a Sample then Machida is out of luck.  If it means that you come clean before the results are revealed then Machida should take advantage of it.

In short Machida arguably meets the criteria of this section.  He can’t get off the hook entirely but he has a fighting chance of getting his penalty reduced, perhaps to as little as one year.

5 thoughts on “How Lyoto Machida May Cut his USADA Doping Ban in Half

  1. Nah, that doesnt count in this instance.
    He was “Notified” of the collection by the DCO (Doping Control Officer) so he didnt inform usada before the test.
    If he phoned them up out of the blue, yes, but not telling the DCO whos there to collect a sample.

  2. Thanks for your comment DM, that possibility is noted above.

    The issue is it is a poorly worded section noting he has to come clean prior to
    “notice of a Sample collection which could establish an Anti-Doping Policy Violation”.

    Your interpretation may be correct. Another interpretation of this wording is he can come clean before he receives notice that his A sample came back positive. If I were Machida I would argue it is an ambiguously worded section and the doctrine of contra proferentum should be applied for a more liberal and favorable interpretation.

    As noted though, if the more conservative interpretation prevails he is out of luck.

    This section has not yet been interpreted since the UFC/USADA ADP came into force. If other arbitration decisions exist reviewing similar language from other ADP’s that would be informative.

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