MMA promotions and state athletic commissions alike are cracking down on performance-enhancing drug use. Hard. The first high-profile victim?
Bellator bantamweight Mike "The Marine" Richman.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sherdog.com reported via Twitter that Richman failed a drug test following his Bellator 137 bout with Eduardo Dantas. Shortly after, California State Athletic Commission executive officer Andy Foster told Marc Raimondi of MMAFighting.com that the CSAC would hand down a two-year suspension and $2,500 fine for the infraction.
Multiple sources confirm Mike Richman tested positive for anabolic steroid following Bellator 137. Story coming soon to Sherdog.— Sherdog.com (@sherdogdotcom) June 9, 2015
Richman admitted to taking "an anabolic steroid" on Facebook after the news broke:
In regards to my positive test results for an Anabolic Steroid. I want to say that I lost the integrity in myself and the integrity of this sport. I will not sit here and deny that I took it or act like I didn't know what I was taking or blame it on someone else. I am a cheat, plan (sic) and simple and there is no excuse or reason that is valid enough to dispute the reasons why I cheated the sport and myself by using it.
Last month, the Nevada State Athletic Commission rolled out a new set of punishment guidelines for fighters caught using banned substances, which included multiyear bans for PED users. Richman is the first notable mixed martial artist to fail a drug test since the overhaul and is being hit with harsh, previously unheard of sanctions.
A three-year Bellator veteran, Richman found new life after dropping to the bantamweight division, posting back-to-back knockout wins over Ed West and Nam Phan. Unfortunately, his hopes of a title shot were killed when he dropped a 29-28 unanimous decision to the Brazilian after a botched weight cut.
Needless to say, a two-year suspension is an absolutely brutal blow to Richman's livelihood. A former marine who served in the Iraq war, he joined Bellator in 2012 and has been a steady figure for the promotion since, competing in three featherweight tournaments while fighting a total of 12 times. His career record currently sits at 18-6 (7-5 in Bellator).
Richman is 29 years old, so it is possible he may rejoin the sport at some time in the future. That said, a two-year suspension would prevent him from competing until May 2017 at the earliest.
Richman will have the opportunity to appeal the CSAC's ruling, but he hinted on Facebook that he would accept the suspension, saying "I also deserve the punishment the CA state athletic commission brought down upon me."
We shall see what the future holds for him.