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.

Calvillo flagged by USADA for marijuana metabolites

January 17, 2018

USADA has flagged Cynthia Calvillo following an in-competition test taken in conjunction with her fight at UFC 219 last month.  The test showed traces of marijuana metabolites exceeding the decision limit by USADA.

Calvillo lost a split decision to Carla Esparza in a battle of strawweight contenders.  It was her first loss of her professional career.

Via UFC’s statement on Calvillo:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed Cynthia Calvillo of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation involving Carboxy-Tetrahydrocannabinol (“Carboxy-THC”) which is a metabolite of marijuana and/or hashish, above the decision limit of 180 ng/mL, stemming from an in-competition sample collected in conjunction with her recent bout in Las Vegas, Nevada on December 30, 2017, UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm.

Payout Perspective:

What a bad turn of events for the 30-year old Calvillo who may negotiate with USADA for a reduction of her suspension.  You might recall that Kelvin Gastelum was given just a 90-day suspension after he was flagged by USADA in April 2017.  This could be a blow for a promising star and the UFC’s strawweight division.  We shall see if she will receive a light sentence similar to Gastelum.

Yoel Romero sues supplement maker that caused USADA suspension

January 16, 2018

Forbes reports that Yoel Romero has filed a lawsuit for negligence against Goldstar Performance Products in New Jersey Superior Court.  Romero is blaming the supplement maker for his USADA positive drug test for Ibutamoren which the middleweight served a 6-month suspension.

Romero used the product Shred Rx.  It appears that the supplement was used to help in the weigh-cutting process.

According to a description on the company web site:

‘Shed RX is an extremely powerful herbal diuretic designed to help the body dramatically eliminate excess water retention from beneath the skin. This maximum strength botanical formula also supplies the proper balance of vital electrolytes, which can help maintain muscle performance and muscle fullness. So if you are looking to get ready for that big show or just need to lose a few pounds of water weight for the beach or special event, then Shed RX is the product for you!

The supplement contained “approximately 5 micrograms per capsule” of Ibutamoren according to his complaint.

When his suspension was announced, it was noted that Romero took a contaminated supplement.  Based upon the Forbes retelling of Romero’s complaint, it appears that he had informed USADA of the drug believed to have caused the flagged test and an independent purchase of the product revealed that the capsules contained “approximately 12 micrograms [of Ibutamoren] per capsule.”  The supplement did not list this ingredient on the supplement which is the reason for the lawsuit.

Romero has a fight set with Luke Rockhold for the UFC middleweight interim title on February 10 at UFC 221.

Payout Perspective:

This is the second such lawsuit involving a supplement as Lyman Good sued a vitamin makerhe took and the store that sold the product due to a failed USADA test.  It will be an interesting case considering the lawsuit is based on negligence rather than strict liability.  Under a theory of negligence, Romero must prove that he was owed a duty as a customer to rely on the supplement’s list of ingredients and that the company failed to provide its customer with this information causing injury.  In products liability involving strict liability cases, there need not be a finding of fault, only that the defendant was responsible.  It appears that Romero is claiming that the company was careless in allowing the inclusion of the banned substance.  There are several defenses here.  But, look for the supplement maker to defend this case claiming the lack of foreseeability in that Romero would have taken such product and causing his claimed damages.

Brazilian strawweight, Ribas, accepts USADA 2-year suspension

January 10, 2018

24-year-old Brazilian strawweight Amanda Ribas accepted a two-year suspension from USADA for violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  Her Octagon career has stalled before it even started.

The suspension comes from an out-of-competition test on June 7, 2017 as she was training for the TUF Finale in Vegas on July 7, 2017.  Ribas tested positive for Ostarine.  It is a non-specified substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  According to the press release, “Ostarine is not currently available as a prescription medication in any country, and its unauthorized use may carry serious side effects.”

Payout Perspective:

Prior to her signing with the UFC Ribas was 6-1 in her professional career with 4 KOs and 2 submissions.  In the new year, it will be interesting to see how much of an effort that UFC and USADA does with incoming fighters with education on supplements.  While its not known what occurred with Ribas, there have been several fighters that have been flagged before or immediately after their UFC debut.

Jessica Penne given 18 month suspension for UFC Anti-Doping Violation

January 5, 2018

Jessica Penne has accepted an 18-month suspension from USADA after testing positive for an unspecified steroid.

The issue occurred from an out-of-competition urine test on March 20, 2017.  She tested positive for an “anabolic androgenic steroid of exogenous origin.”

Penne’s testing leads one to wonder why there was not an appeal in this matter:

Although Penne’s sample was initially reported as negative for prohibited substances on the standard out-of-competition testing menu, upon review of Penne’s Athlete Biological Passport, the sample was subsequently flagged for additional analysis due to an increased degree of variability in urinary biomarkers measured in the sample. Sophisticated carbon isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (GC/C/IRMS) analysis confirmed the presence of a synthetic anabolic agent in Penne’s sample. Before the reanalysis of her sample was completed, Penne fought at the UFC Fight Night event in Nashville on April 22, 2017, an event sanctioned by the Tennessee Athlete Commission.

Penne identified a supplement that she was to use at the direction of her physician which she believed was the source of the prohibited substance.  Despite identifying the source and accepting the explanation that the supplement was prescribed by a doctor, she was still assessed the 18-month suspension which is a reduction from the 2 year sentence given to most first-time offenders.

Payout Perspective:

One might argue that the suspension is against the belief that mitigating circumstances usually would knock down the length of suspension.  Jeff Novitsky stated this on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast when talking about Jon Jones.  Here, it seems for Penne, a first-time offender, was not given the benefit of the doubt considering her legitimate reason.  The prescribed medication from a legitimate physician should have some semblance of credibility for USADA to take into consideration.  Reducing the suspension to where it is still over a year seems egregious.

UFC Bantamweight flagged by USADA

January 1, 2018

Bantamweight Carls John de Tomas was notified by USADA that he failed a drug test and may be subject to discipline under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The test was a result of his participation at UFC Fight Night Fresno where a test after weigh-ins yielded the failed test.

Via UFC web site:

Although de Tomas is no longer under contract with UFC, USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case, as it relates to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) also retains jurisdiction over this matter as the sample collection was performed the day before de Tomas’ bout at UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs Ortega in Fresno, CA. Accordingly, USADA will work to ensure that the CSAC has the necessary information to determine its proper judgment of de Tomas’ potential anti-doping violation.

Payout Perspective:

de Tomas lost both of his fights in the UFC and missed weight in his company debut.  So, it’s no surprise that he is no longer under contract with the company.  His last reported payout was $10,000 which does not bode well for any kind of appeal if he so chooses to dispute the test results.