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Lyoto Machida Declares Use of Banned Drug, Dan Henderson UFC Fight Cancelled

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistApril 13, 2016

HOLLYWOOD, FL - JUNE 26:  Lyoto Machida of Brazil steps on the scale during the UFC weigh-in at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino on June 26, 2015 in Hollywood, Florida. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

The Ultimate Fighting Championship announced on Wednesday that mixed martial arts veteran Lyoto Machida has tested positive for a banned substance, per the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

The UFC released a statement via its official website and confirmed the United States Anti-Doping Agency had brought to its attention that Machida "declared the usage of a banned substance during an out-of-competition sample collection last week":  

The UFC organization was made aware today by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency  (USADA), the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, that Lyoto Machida declared the usage of a banned substance during an out-of-competition sample collection last week.

Machida stated that he was unaware that the substance was prohibited both in and out of competition and, in accordance with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, his disclosure of usage will be taken into consideration by USADA during any potential results management and adjudication process.

Machida has been removed from the UFC on Fox 19 card in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday, where he was scheduled to fight Dan Henderson. Hollywood didn't respond well to the revelation:

Dan Henderson @danhendo

P.O.S. -No respect https://t.co/03O5oM7sM9

Machida spoke about the news on Instagram:

Performance-enhancing drugs and doping violations have become a hot topic of discussion in mixed martial arts circles, and Wednesday's news serves as the latest smudge on the UFC's record when it comes to regulating banned substances.

The MMA Hour host Ariel Helwani was quick to point out what a blow the news was for Henderson, whom many were undoubtedly looking forward to seeing get his shot at redemption for a split-decision defeat at UFC 157:

Ariel Helwani @arielhelwani

Back to Machida, gotta feel for Hendo, who's already in Tampa. That's really bad timing for him. (Though that rematch did little for me.)

Fortunately, UFC officials reportedly said Henderson would be booked "for another event at a later date," per MMAjunkie, although this presents a setback in his rhythm heading into a fight at the least.

In March 2015, UFC welterweight Hector Lombard received a one-year ban after he tested positive for a substance called desoxymethyltestosterone, or DMT, in a post-fight test, per MMA Fighting's Shaun Al-Shatti.

PEDs have long been an issue in combat sports, where the slightest physical, mental or psychological edge can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Rolling Stone writer Mike Bohn detailed just how frequently the UFC has been forced to deal with changes to its main card events in recent months either because of injuries or drug infringements:

Mike Bohn @MikeBohnMMA

Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson fight cancellation marks the 12th main or co-main event change to the UFC calendar so far in 2016.

In February 2015, then-middleweight contender—now champion—Luke Rockhold told CBS Sports Radio's Gio and Jones show he suspected Machida's Black House camp of using banned substances:

I’m not a fan of (cheating), and I definitely am pushing for more drug testing, more random blood testing and whatnot. Especially (within the) Black House camp. There’s been (three or fur guys from that camp who have been caught cheating) and (Lyoto) Machida is a Black House guy.

[...]

I think he’s a clean fighter, but I’m definitely pushing (for more testing). I want a clean sport, like baseball. We need to get on their level. Let’s start cleaning things up a little bit here.

Rockhold is one of the UFC's most outspoken figures in the advocacy for sterner drug testing in the promotion. However, the revelation of a figure as heralded as Machida will only increase pressure on the organisation to improve in that regard.

MMA podcaster Jason Floyd pondered when Machida became aware the substance he was taking was banned, perhaps suggesting his story could relate to that of tennis star Maria Sharapova:

Jason Floyd @Jason_Floyd

Here is the question for Machida: When did he know he was taking a banned substance and when did he start taking that substance?

Earlier this year, Sharapova tested positive for a banned substance called meldonium, as detailed by the Guardian, but the drug was prohibited only at the start of 2016, a full decade after she had started taking it.

Information regarding Machida's case is yet to be made available, but at 37 years of age, such a substantial controversy could leave his career at risk. 

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