Catching Up with the UFC Drug-Test Failures over the Last 6 Months

Andrew SaundersCorrespondent IIMarch 25, 2013

Catching Up with the UFC Drug-Test Failures over the Last 6 Months

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    Drugs and sports are a terrible combination. In baseball, they can keep megastars like Barry Bonds out of the Hall of Fame. In mixed martial arts, they can lead to a fighter being stripped of his wins and permanently branded as a cheater.

    Anabolic steroids and testosterone are major issues inside the cage. No fighter should use chemicals to have a physical advantage inside the Octagon. It's both unfair and unsafe.

    However, PEDs aren't the only banned substances that lead to suspensions. UFC president Dana White is openly fearful of random testing based on the number of guys who would test positive for marijuana.

    Beginning with UFC 152 on September 22, here is a chronicling of every failed drug test in the UFC over the last six months.

Stephan Bonnar

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    Event: UFC 153

    Opponent: Anderson Silva

    Result: Lost via TKO in Round 1 

    Drug: Anabolic steroids

    Stephan Bonnar, commonly known as "The American Psycho," had absolutely nothing to lose when taking on Anderson Silva on short notice. Everyone expected him to lose, so in a worst-case scenario, he would lose to the best fighter on the planet.

    However, Bonnar found a way to make the worst of a great opportunity. Not only did he get knocked out in the first round, but he used steroids in the buildup to the contest and will forever be branded a cheater.

    Bonnar retired from the sport before the drug tests came back; however, he was handed a one-year suspension from the UFC, just in case he changed his mind.

    The TUF runner-up recently broke his silence on the violation while on The MMA Hour. Give it a listen.

Dave Herman

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    Event: UFC 153

    Opponent: Antonio Nogueira

    Result: Lost via submission in Round 2 

    Drug: Marijuana

    Dave Herman did the UFC a big favor by agreeing to step in on short notice so Brazilian hero Antonio Nogueira could jump on the UFC 153 card. However, he did himself no favors by turning in the second failed drug test of his Zuffa career.

    Herman tested positive for marijuana for a second time on this card. Previously, Herman failed a pre-fight drug screening at UFC 136, which forced him out of a planned bout against Mike Russow.

    Despite three consecutive losses and two failed tests, the UFC still has Herman on the payroll. He was, however, suspended for six months and ordered to undergo treatment for substance abuse.

Thiago Silva

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    Event: UFC on FUEL 6

    Opponent: Stanislav Nedkov

    Result: Won via submission in Round 3 (Overturned to No Contest)

    Drug: Marijuana

    Thiago Silva is another repeat offender making his way onto this list. After falsifying a urine sample for UFC 125, Silva ate a one-year suspension and a fine of nearly $34,000.

    Apparently he didn't learn his lesson the first time.

    At UFC on FUEL 6, Silva tested positive for marijuana metabolites and was suspended for six months. Like Herman, he was also ordered to undergo treatment for substance abuse.

    For those of you keeping score, Silva has been stripped of his two most recent wins for drug-testing issues.

Joey Beltran

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    Event: UFC on FX 6

    Opponent: Igor Pokrajac

    Result: Won unanimous decision (Overturned to No Contest) 

    Drug: Anabolic steroids

    The roller-coaster career of Joey Beltran continued in December. After picking up his first UFC win in 18 months, a failed drug test saw it quickly ripped from his resume.

    The former heavyweight had lost five of his last seven fights before meeting Igor Pokrajac at UFC on FX 6. There is no question that he was fighting in hopes of saving his job, so it makes sense why he would turn to steroids out of desperation.

    Beltran was suspended for nine months as a way to prove that cheating doesn't pay. He must pass a drug test at the end of his suspension before he is eligible to return.

Rousimar Palhares

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    Event: UFC on FX 6

    Opponent: Hector Lombard

    Result: Lost via knockout in Round 1 

    Drug: Elevated Testosterone

    It is embarrassing to be dominated inside the Octagon. It's even worse when you are caught using performance-enhancing drugs in the same fight.

    Leglock specialist Rousimar Palhares found himself in this position after a one-sided loss to Hector Lombard in December. A post-fight urinalysis showed that Palhares had elevated levels of testosterone in this contest, which was enough to earn him a nine-month suspension.

    This is the first failed drug test for Palhares; however, it is his second time facing a suspension from the UFC. In 2010, he was on the sidelines for 90 days after holding a submission for too long.

Thiago Tavares

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    Event: UFC on FX 7

    Opponent: Khabib Nurmagomedov

    Result: Lost via knockout in Round 1 

    Drug: Anabolic steroids

    When the story leaked that a fighter from UFC on FX 7 failed a post-fight drug test, fingers pointed to Vitor Belfort. And why not? The former champion had previously tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone at PRIDE 32, so it makes sense that he would be a repeat offender.

    While Belfort did get a TRT exemption, he did not fail his test. That dishonor fell on 13-fight UFC veteran Thiago Tavares, whose urinalysis showed that the Brazilian was using Drostanolone.

    The lightweight was handed a nine-month suspension for the failure and will be eligible to return to action in October.

Matt Riddle

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    Event: UFC on FUEL 7

    Opponent: Che Mills

    Result: Won unanimous decision (Overturned to No Contest)

    Drug: Marijuana

    The ongoing struggle between medical marijuana users and MMA drug screeners continued in early 2013 when Matt Riddle turned in his second positive drug test in a 19-month period.

    Riddle has been outspoken on his views regarding marijuana in MMA and why it's banishment is absurd.

    I don't think its' fair. I don't really understand the process anymore because I thought if you have a medical license and you're prescribed by a doctor, all the guys are taking HGH and testosterone and fighting and getting the upper hand on people and I've already had serious injuries in my career already and I am only 26 and I am in serious pain sometimes and I use that. I use medical marijuana for my pain and I use it for everything else, too. I don't take anything else while I see all of these other fighters popping Oxycontin and taking testosterone and just beating themselves up, so you know. They can do whatever they want to do I am going to do what I do and there is a reason why I am who I am. There is a reason why I don't get hurt or don't get tired. It's what it is.

    Were it not for his failed tests, Riddle would be on a four-fight winning streak in the UFC's welterweight division. However, he was released from the UFC after the second failure, and the Ultimate Fighter alumnus now finds himself fighting outside of Zuffa for the first time in his professional career.

    Meanwhile, UFC executive Marc Ratner has requested that the Nevada State Athletic Commission revisit their policy on marijuana in MMA. Maybe that's good news for those who legally use the substance.

Lavar Johnson

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    Event: UFC 157

    Opponent: Brendan Schaub

    Result: Lost unanimous decision

    Drug: Elevated T/E Ratio

    Popular slugger Lavar Johnson is known for his incredible punching power, which has generated excellent knockouts inside the Octagon. However, after failing a drug test at UFC 157, he will be forced to take his talents elsewhere.

    According to an article from ESPN, Johnson admitted to undergoing testosterone replacement therapy, although he did not disclose this with the commission. 

    Johnson was released from the UFC only hours after being handed a nine-month suspension from the California State Athletic Commission. 

Riki Fukuda

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    Event: UFC on FUEL 8

    Opponent: Brad Tavares

    Result: Lost unanimous decision 

    Drug: Phenylpropanolamine, Norpseudoephedrine and Ephedrine

    The short list of fighters who failed drug tests when the UFC returned to Japan surprised many, especially when hometown favorite Riki Fukuda's name came up. 

    The former DEEP champion blames his failed test on over-the-counter cold medication. Apparently his excuse fell on deaf ears, as Fukuda was released from the UFC following a 2-3 stint in the promotion.

Alex Caceres

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    Event: UFC on FUEL 8

    Opponent: Kyung Ho Kang

    Result: Won split decision (Overturned to No Contest)

    Drug: Marijuana

    Although I don't condone the use of steroids, at least I can understand the mentality of those who seek an advantage in the cage. That being said, it really is incredible how many fighters are willing to smoke marijuana knowing that they run the risk of having their wins stripped without gaining anything in the process. 

    Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres had victory ripped from his hands earlier this month after testing positive for marijuana at UFC on FUEL 8. Caceres spoke with MMAJunkie on his six-month suspension.

    I accept full responsibility for my actions and the consequences from those actions. I apologize to all that I have disappointed, including the UFC, my family, coaches, training partners and fans. I accept the sanctions from the UFC, and I look forward to completing the necessary steps to getting back in the octagon following the suspension and assuring that this never happens again.

    Caceres has been suspended for six months and is eligible to return in September as long as he completes a drug treatment program and passes a drug test at the end of his suspension.