It was announced on Friday that former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos had been pulled from UFC 215 and a scheduled bout with Francis Ngannou after being flagged for a potential anti-doping violation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency(USADA).
Neither the UFC nor USADA revealed what had caused Dos Santos to be flagged at that time, as per the promotion’s anti-doping policy. However, the Brazilian fighter’s management subsequently claimed that a diuretic called hydrochlorothiazide, banned because of it’s frequent use as a masking agent but not a performance-enhancing drug, was the substance found in Dos Santos’s system.
In the statement they provided to MMAjunkie, Dos Santos’s representatives went on to proclaim the 33-year-old’s innocence and predictably revealed that they have requested USADA test his B sample.
“We do not know where this substance came from. Junior has had his blood and urine randomnly tested many times and has never once tested positive for a banned substance.
“We requested testing of his B sample today. Most times, the B sample will show the identical results as the A sample. Therefore, we are already working on analyzing his nutritional supplements and medications to determine whether anything might have been contaminated. Jeff Novitzky and Donna Marcolini of the UFC have provided the guidance for this process, and we are grateful to them for their professionalism and competence.”
On Saturday night, Dos Santos himself posted a video to social media in which he reacted to news of the violation and addressed his fans.
“Look, I’m not here to give any explanation,” began Dos Santos. “Soon everything will be revealed to all of you and, no doubts, truth will prevail. I am here in respect for all of you guys. I just want to say that this situation is very tough for me, my team and my family. And I would never cheat, it goes against everything I stand for. I play the fair game. We will get to the bottom of this, figure out what happened, learn from it and move on. And I hope in the near future Francis Ngannou and me can face each other and give you guys the show you were expecting.
“For now, thank you very much for your support, it means a lot to me and that’s why I’m here. Good night.”
Em português no post anterior a este. Boa noite pic.twitter.com/qz65E6nfXR
— Junior Dos Santos (@junior_cigano) August 20, 2017
In the hours since, FanSided have published a further statement, in which Dos Santos’ management suggest the levels of hydrochlorothiazide detected were very low and that they intended to carry out an investigation in order to determine the “unintended source” of the substance.
“We now have the official copy of Junior’s August 10 urine test. The level of hydrochlorothiazide listed on his USADA result was “low.” Additionally, the specific gravity reading of Junior’s urine sample was 1.025, indicating that the sample was not diluted. We understand the concentrated urine sample to mean that the low level of hydrochlorothiazide in Junior’s system had no diuretic effect on his sample.
“We are learning about some recent anti-doping cases where low levels of hydrochlorothiazide have been the result of supplement contamination, and even contaminated ground water.
“Our goal now is simply to determine the unintended source of the hydrochlorothiazide. To that end, we have identified two nutritional supplements that Junior recently began using–neither of which show hydrochlorothiazide anywhere on their respective labels or ingredient lists– and are working with USADA to test both. Hopefully that gets us answers.
“All drug tests that Junior has taken–both prior to and post implementation of the USADA program–have been negative, including blood and urine samples he provided on July 10 of this year. He prides himself on being a clean athlete, and looks forward to resolving this matter.”
Dos Santos claimed the UFC heavyweight title with a first-round stoppage victory over Cain Velasquez back in November of 2011. He made one successful defence of the strap, defeating Frank Mir, before dropping it back to Velasquez via unanimous decision the following December. Since then, the hard-hitting heavyweight’s form has been consistently inconsistent, with a one win/one loss pattern emerging over his last six fights.
Still, after an April 2016 win over Ben Rothwell, Dos Santos landed a title shot against Stipe Miocic, partly because of the dearth of talent in the division and partly because he was the last man to defeat the reigning champion.
Dos Santos was, however, bludgeoned to a first-round stoppage defeat in May.
In Ngannou, Dos Santos was preparing to face the heavyweight division’s brightest prospect, a fighter on a nine-fight winning run, who is undefeated in the UFC and has finished all of his opponents in the promotion thus far. That showdown will have to wait, however.
The UFC have yet to announce a replacement for Ngannou. However, the fighter himself has called out heavyweight veteran Alistair Overeem.
— Francis NGannou (@francis_ngannou) August 19, 2017