Rivera issued 4 years ban for submitting false evidence to USADA

January 21, 2018

Francisco Rivera was handed a 4-year suspension from the UFC for “aggravating circumstances” stemming from a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The arbitrator determined that Rivera knowingly took clenbuterol and attempted to falsify evidence to conceal the wrongdoing.

A USADA arbitrator issued the ruling on Friday.

USADAv.rivera Award by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The arbitration is a result of a flagged urine sample taken from Rivera on July 23, 2016.  The A and B samples contained clenbuterol, a Prohibited Substance that is not a Specified Substance.  At the time, Rivera was preparing for a fight on July 30th

Notably, at about the same time, UFC welterweight Li Jingliang avoided punishment for a positive test of clenbuterol when it was determined that it was due to consuming contaminated meat in China.  Hoping to obtain the same outcome, Rivera claimed that it was possible that the positive finding was due to consuming meat at a family barbecue in Mexico.  In order to bolster his alibi, he produced a receipt from a Costco, a falsified bank statement and two falsified witness statements claiming that he was in Mexico visiting family.

As part of the investigation, USADA sent a representative from New York to Los Angeles to accompany Rivera to a local Chase bank branch to obtain a bank statement to confirm the authenticity of the receipt.  However, Rivera did not show up and when his attorney attempted to contact him, the fighter did not respond.  At that point, his attorney threatened to withdraw from representation due to his failure to show up at an agreed time.  USADA informed the arbitrator of what had happened and soon thereafter Rivera emailed USADA stating he was in Mexico.  It was later determined that he was actually in San Diego.

In order to save himself, Rivera claimed that his attorney had falsified the information in the Arbitration Brief.  But, the Arbitrator did not buy it.  Even though there were circumstantial facts, the Arbitrator notes the short notice of his bout in mid-June, the proximity of time (July 23) that the test was taken to his fight on July 30th and the nature of the finding led to the conclusion that Rivera used clenbuterol to lose weight while maintaining strength and endurance.

The Arbitrator found that Rivera did not meet his burden to show that the period of ineligibility should be reduced to less than two years based on the alibi that he used tainted supplements or ate tainted meat from Mexico.

 

The Arbitrator notes that USADA does not cite a definition for “aggravating circumstances” in its Arbitration brief which is meant to enhance a punishment.  Also, the UFC Anti-Doping Policy does not define “intentional” for purposes of the “aggravating circumstances” definition.  This might provide a sliver of hope for Rivera if he determines to appeal the 4-year sentence.  Yet, the Arbitrator found sufficient evidence to add on 2 years to the requisite 2 for a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

The good news for Rivera was that the Arbitrator noted that the parties bear their own attorney fees and costs.  Certainly, the flight for USADA to go from NY to LA to meet Rivera could have been an expensive cost for Rivera.

Payout Perspective:

This was a case that USADA is using as an example of what happens if you attempt to beat the system.  The attempts by the 36-year-old Rivera to falsify evidence is not only against the rules, it may have put the attorney in trouble for the claim that he attempted to falsify evidence in a proceeding.  Even if it was not in court, an administrative hearing likely carries the same ethical penalties for misrepresentation and falsifying evidence.  The punitive nature of the 4 years is warranted in this case considering the circumstances of the investigation with Rivera not showing up at an agreed upon meeting at a bank and admitting to falsifying the bank records.  Of course, the underlying was that Rivera attempted to use the banned substance to make weight for a fight he was taking on short notice which was also the last fight on his contract.  So, there was pressure to win in his last fight.  The fact he took it on short notice may be a consequence of needing the money.

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