With USADA suspension almost over, UFC releases Tom Lawlor

August 13, 2018

The UFC has released Tom Lawlor from his UFC contract.  Lawlor, who is serving a 2-year UFC Anti-Doping Policy drug suspension is currently working as a pro wrestler.

Lawlor accepted a 2-year suspension after he failed a test for Ostarine on October 10, 2016.  Despite an exhaustive look into what may have caused the test, Lawlor decided not to make a formal appeal.

Lawlor will be off of suspension on October 10, 2018.  However, since he’s been away from MMA, he’s embarked on a pro wrestling career to keep him busy.

According to the report on F4Wonline.com, where Lawlor also is a co-host of a weekly show, he had asked for his release when being suspended but the company refused until today.

In addition to news of Lawlor being released, the UFC released Gleison Tibau.  He was the second UFC athlete to be put on provisional suspension as a result of the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

Payout Perspective:

Perhaps if there is any good news for Lawlor is that he’s been able to focus on his wrestling career and travel the country doing shows and making an income.  It might be the best situation if he wanted to be a UFC champion, but it elevated his name in the world of pro wrestling.  We will see if Lawlor will seek out Bellator or another promotion to continue his MMA career.

Ferreira files lawsuit against supplement makers and supplier for allegedly causing USADA suspension

July 29, 2018

Carlos Diego Ferreira Neves has filed a lawsuit against supplement vendors, manufacturers and suppliers which resulted in the lightweight being suspended for 17 months.

The lawsuit filed last month In the District Court of Hidalgo County, Texas states that Defendants spiked “360 Lean, a “dietary nutritional supplement” with ostarine while also misleadingly adding a prohibited substance known as 7-Keto® DHEA, causing Plaintiff to suffer severe injuries after being banned from the UFC.”

Ferreira notes that the label of 360Lean did not accurately list 7-Keto® DHEA and later changed its description in subsequent batches. The lawsuit states, “[R]epresenting that the supplement contained, 7-Keto®, without indicating the product contained a hormone was wholly deceptive, misleading, and fraudulent.”

7-Keto® DHEA and Ostarine are banned substances and 360Lean was placed on the USADA High Risk List in Februar 2017 “after testing of Lot Number 9004637 revealed the presence of 7-Keto® DHEA and ostarine.

In September 2016, a sealed unopened bottle of 360Lean was sent to a WADA accredited lab where Plaintiff discovered that he had unknowingly and through no fault of his own ingested ostarine from the product 360Lean.  Ferreira was charged with a UFC Anti-Doping Violation in November 2016.

Ferreira is suing Zinpro and Impact Labs as the developers, manufacturers, marketers and distributors of 360Lean.  Vitamin Shack & Shakes sold the 360Lean product.

The lawsuit states a variety of causes of action including negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warrantied and fraud against Zinpro Corporation and Impact Labs.  Ferreira also claims that the Defendants are guilty under the theory of strict liability for products liability.

Ferreira First Amended Petition by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd

The store where Ferreira purchased 360Lean has filed a cross-claim against the Zinpro and Impact Labs for allegedly misleading consumers with its label.

Payout Perspective:

This is the fourth lawsuit since the UFC Anti-Doping policy was implemented where a fighter has sued a supplement maker, manufacture and distributor.  Josh Barnett, Yoel Romero and Lyman Good also filed lawsuits against supplement makers and the places where they purchased the alleged tainted goods which caused them to receive suspensions as a result of the findings.

In products liability cases (lawsuits where the claim is that a product is defective), there is a higher standard on the manufacturer or seller to ensure that the user is not harmed.  In this instance, one could argue Ferreira was not harmed in the sense of physical injury.  He was harmed since he had to ensure he did not ingest a banned substance per the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The question will be whether the Defendants knowingly misled consumers with the amendment of its description on the label.  This will make a very interesting case as it continues.  MMA Payout will continue to follow.

He says he’s not, but should Anderson Silva sue USADA?

July 25, 2018

On Ariel Helwani’s show this past Monday, Anderson Silva stated that he would not take legal action after USADA determined that his failed drug test came from a compounding pharmacy.  But, a legal action could facilitate a change to the current UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

The former middleweight champ said he has lost 4 sponsors as a result of his absence from the Octagon.

Silva’s statement of losing sponsors could be a claim for damages in a lawsuit against USADA and Zuffa.   Based on the USADA ruling, it absolves Silva of wrongdoing in the matter as he ingested a contaminated supplement.  He unknowingly took a supplement from a pharmacy that made the supplement in-house rather than receiving it from the actual manufacturer.  The issue of “compounding pharmacies” has come up with several tests that were flagged by USADA.  This includes Junior Dos Santos and Antonio Rogerio Nogueria.  All have been reinstated after an investigation revealed the source of the failed test.

In a lawsuit, the broader problem is that Silva would likely have to bring an action against USADA and the UFC for its policy.  Since Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC is the organization that unilaterally (very important) implemented the policy, you would need to sue them.  Certainly, a daunting task for any fighter considering the lawsuits pending regarding Mark Hunt and the ex-UFC athletes in the antitrust lawsuit.

But, Silva would have been a great plaintiff to disrupt the current state of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  Granted, his UFC 183 NAC drug test failure was embarrassing to his legacy, but he has maintained a popularity with most MMA fans.  Stepping in on short notice to face Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 was legendary because it was clear that he was not in shape to go in and fight but did it to help the company.

So, why sue the company that he has been a part of for years?

The UFC Anti-Doping Policy has flaws and there is no way that they can be amended since contracted athletes have no leverage to influence policy.  Project Spearhead among other entities have attempted to organize but those efforts are still pending.

A lawsuit which would include USADA and Zuffa would bring attention to the perceived unfair policy developed by the organization.  While the intent of the policy is for the greater good of the sport in that it prevents the use of performance enhancing drugs, athletes have complained about the testing measures and the collection process.  Josh Barnett, who successfully defended himself at arbitration over a failed drug test, left the UFC due to the lack of trust he had in the process.  Despite the fact athletes may absolve themselves of wrongdoing, athletes are immediately put on a provisional suspension pending adjudication which takes a lengthy amount of time to complete.

Moreover, the standard for which athletes must prove their innocence is a huge obstacle considering that the UFC Anti-Doping Policy operates on a presumption that the athlete is responsible for anything he or she ingests.  Thus, the issue of compounding pharmacy or taking a tainted supplement already makes the athlete culpable.

A lawsuit is a long, arduous process that costs a lot of money.  Silva is 43 and would like to fight before his time is up.  So, not filing a lawsuit is prudent to finish his career in the UFC.  But, his legacy could be more than this if he were to take legal action.  It would be likely that a lawsuit would necessitate a response short of a trial. Meaning, the USADA and Zuffa would want to solve the issue prior to judicial resolution.  The loss of sponsors, assuming they were due to in-ring inaction rather than another issue, may be a viable claim for lost wages due to an unfair system.

Legal action is not always the way to resolve disputes, but at the present time if athletes want a change to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, filing a complaint might be the way to do it.

UFC welterweight notified of potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation

July 20, 2018

The UFC has announced that USADA has informed Muslim Salikhov of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation from an out-of-competition sample collected on June 7, 2018 in Russia.

Salikhov was 1-1 in the UFC with his last fight at UFC on Fox 29, a win over fellow welterweight Ricky Rainey.  The 34-year-old Dagestani product has an overall record of 14-2.

Payout Perspective:

It’s still too early to know if this is a case of being caught or if the welterweight will claim that he took a contaminated product or something else.  One would think that Salikhov would be a part of the UFC show in Russia this September but that will now have to wait.

UFC welterweight flagged by USADA

July 4, 2018

Bradley Scott was placed on provisional suspension by USADA after an in-competition sample was flagged on May 27, 2018.  Scott lost to Carlo Pedrsoli, Jr. at UFC Fight Night 130 on the same date.

Scott has been with the UFC since 2012 and has gone 3-5 during his stint with the company.

The UFC issued its standard statement about the finding:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed athlete Bradley Scott of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an in-competition sample collected on May 27, 2018.

Payout Perspective:

The welterweight has been on a two-fight slide since a win in March 2017.  We will see if the 29-year-old tested for and whether he will attempt to challenge, mitigate or accept the penalty.

Augusto Mendes is released by UFC, signs with ACB despite pending anti-doping violation

June 9, 2018

The UFC has granted Augusto Mendes his release according to MMA Fighting.  Mendes was flagged back in March for a potential UFC anti-doping violation.  Mendes has signed with Absolute Championship Berkut of Russia.

Mendes claimed that he would appeal the drug test administered by USADA.  However, with one fight left on his UFC deal, he is no longer with promotion.

It is not clear whether he will compete before his USADA case is resolved.

Payout Perspective:

This signing has gone under the radar and may be something to track considering if ACB decides to honor the potential suspension.  One might infer that they will not considering the signing during this time.  Moreover, the UFC’s willingness to let him out of his contract may mean that it will no longer pursue disciplinary action against him but place the burden on other regulatory bodies to decide.  This is a similar situation to the Cro Cop/Bellator issue where a fighter finds alternative ways around the USADA suspension.  We will see what happens and if going to an organization that does not honor an anti-doping violation in another promotion, this may be a strategy by some that will look to circumvent the process.

Werdum flagged by USADA for anti-doping violation

May 22, 2018

The UFC announced on Tuesday that Fabricio Werdum has been notified of a potential anti-doping violation by USADA.  The flagged test is from an out-of-competition test taken on April 25th.

Werdum’s last fight was a knockout loss to Alexander Volkov at UFC Fight Night 127.  Werdum took to social media to proclaim his innocence stating that he’s always been careful with everything he takes.

Werdum’s flagged test comes just a day after he was announced to fight in the UFC’s debut in Moscow this September at UFC Fight Night 136.  With the adjudication process for USADA, it’s unlikely he will be cleared in time.

Payout Perspective:

Werdum’s claim that there was some error in the testing and that he’s always been careful brings into question how much fighter’s detail what types of supplements they are taking and where they are from.  The two-year penalty for the 40-year-old Werdum might spell the end of his career.

USADA open to explaining UFC anti-doping cases

April 26, 2018

USADA has indicated that it may be open to “reasoned decisions” when it comes to resolution of cases with a UFC fighter.

USADA CEO Travis Tygart told MMA Junkie that the agency would be open to providing the underlying facts of a case and provide context for how and why an agency makes the decision.  This would address questions about the reasons behind a resolution of a matter as well as acceptance of a suspension.  Currently, the standard procedure under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy is for USADA to provide a short press release confirming basic facts, a summary of the evidence (e.g., a failed urine test) and the sanction imposed.

The potential to provide more information would provide transparency behind the program and alleviate concern from fighters about USADA.  Of course, the new process would mean more time and resources spent to author these reports.  Also, the UFC has not chimed in on this either.

Payout Perspective:

If “reasoned decisions” would make fighters more willing to work with USADA and feel less threatened about the process, it should happen.  Of course, the time and resources spent to do this would mean additional costs borne upon Zuffa.  This would likely cut into the operational expenses of the company and one might infer you’d see this recouped in other ways.  But, the USADA policy is not going away and anyway to alleviate any concerns with fighters should be looked into.

Compounding pharmacies cause of 3 UFC fighters’ failed USADA tests

April 23, 2018

Junior dos Santos, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Marcos Rogerio de Lima have accepted six-month USADA suspensions after their supplements were traced back to compounding pharmacies that allegedly sold tainted supplements.

Compounding pharmacies prepare their medications onsite according to specifications contained in a written prescription instead of receiving their drug inventories like retail pharmacies and drugstores.

Via USADA release:

Despite their claims, the compounding pharmacies, located in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil, sold contaminated supplements to Junior dos Santos Almeida and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who each tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, and Marcos Rogerio de Lima, who tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide and anastrozole. These substances are prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

After testing supplements the athletes provided to USADA, the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City confirmed the presence of multiple prohibited substances in the products. Through an ongoing investigation, USADA independently sourced supplements from the compounding pharmacies, which the Salt Lake City laboratory confirmed were also contaminated with hydrochlorothiazide, anastrozole, and several additional prohibited substances. Autoridade Brasileira de Controle de Dopagem (the Brazilian national anti-doping agency) and law enforcement agencies in Brazil assisted USADA’s investigation.

“We appreciate the cooperation of the athletes and international authorities in getting to the bottom of this situation, as it will hopefully prevent these problems from occurring in the future,” said Travis T. Tygart, CEO of USADA. “It’s unacceptable that these compounding pharmacies produced contaminated supplements for the public. And it’s another unfortunate example of why athletes must use extreme caution if using nutritional supplements. All too often, supplement products contain undeclared substances, including prohibited drugs, that can be dangerous to an athlete’s health. We are doing all we can to ensure that these types of suppliers are held accountable for introducing dangerous products like these into the marketplace.”

The contaminated products rule set forth in the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and the WADA Code provide the opportunity for a reduction in the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility if it is established that the positive test resulted from the use of a contaminated product.

“The rule recognizes that supplements can be a risk and also guards against unfounded and unfair reductions by requiring a thorough investigation of all claims of ‘contamination.’ The rule also ensures that athletes are not overly penalized when they have been diligent in what they use, and when it is proven the source of the positive is from a contaminated product, like in these cases,” Tygart said.

Following USADA’s investigation, Almeida, De Lima, and Nogueira, who all used compounded supplements at the direction of their respective physicians or nutritionists, each accepted reduced six-month periods of ineligibility that ended upon the resolution of their cases. As such, the athletes are immediately eligible to return to competition.

Given the evidence that compounding pharmacies can pose a threat to the health and safety of Brazilian athletes, as well as the public at large, USADA will continue working with law enforcement and regulatory agencies in Brazil to investigate the operations of the offending pharmacies.

Payout Perspective:

This is another example of the issues with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  While there is an overarching standard that the athletes are responsible for what they ingest, this case shows that this standard may be unfair.  JDS was taken off of a fight against Francis Ngannou at UFC 215 in September 2017, giving 8-10 months of unwanted inactivity to clear his name.  It does appear that there was cooperation from all 3 fighters in order to avoid an arbitration to oppose the ruling.  Yet, the time off, more than a 6 month suspension, cannot be regained.

Nick Diaz accepts one-year USADA ban…which ends next week

April 9, 2018

USADA announced that Nick Diaz has accepted a one-year sanction for Whereabouts Failures reporting pursuant to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The suspension is retroactive to April 19th of last year and thus he will be available to fight by next week.

Via USADA release:

USADA announced today that Nick Diaz, of Stockton, Calif., has accepted a one-year sanction for a violation of the UFC® Anti-Doping Policy resulting from three unsuccessful test attempts during a 12-month period.

Like all UFC athletes, Diaz, 34, is a member of the UFC Registered Testing Pool and is therefore subject to certain Whereabouts responsibilities, which allow him to be located for out-of-competition testing. Diaz failed to be available for three tests at the locations provided in his Whereabouts Filings. The first two failures occurred in the second and third quarters of 2016, while the third occurred in the first quarter of 2017. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, the accumulation of three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period constitutes an anti-doping policy violation.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement could be due to the timing of the investigation and speaking with Diaz’s representatives on the matter.  If not, this sort of announcement is a mockery of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy as the announcement almost coincides with his ability to get back to active status with the UFC.  While its clear that Diaz could not take a fight since he did not report his Whereabouts on three separate occasions in as 12-month span, the length of time it took for the decision seems lengthy.  If it was not due to a delay in fact-finding, one has to wonder why the investigation process and determination of penalty is taking so long.

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