After USADA and the UFC announced last week Cris “Cyborg” Justino failed an out-of-competition test, the internet went crazy. A lot of speculation came about without a full set of the facts being laid out, which is sorry to say, becoming more prevalent in all media. Let us breakdown the actual facts and situations that maybe occurring as we await where the Justin, the UFC, and USADA will go from here.
Cyborg and her Testing History
Justino has only one other failed test in her career, and it seems to have haunted her more than any other fighter.
In a test in 2011 shortly after what would be her last Strikeforce fight, the Calfornia State Athletic commission found Stanozolol, a anabolic steroid. The drug itself is for losing fat more than building muscle. She served her time and paid her fine.
Since her return to action, she has been tested during every fight in Invicta as well as in her Lion Fight bouts. The UFC has also been testing her in-competition as well. No athlete has been tested more than her, even those that have tested positive in the past.
Since her return to action in 2013, this was the first positive test she had gotten.
The UFC Fight Night 95 Weight Cut
The UFC has wanted a superfight between Justino and Ronda Rousey for some time. There is history, as Rousey was primed for a featherweight title match with Justino in Strikeforce, but Rousey decided to drop to 135.
Rousey and UFC President Dana White were insistent Justino drop to 135 for the possible superfight, which Justino continued to say wasn’t possible. A compromise was made when the UFC decided to try to drop her to 140. The first cut she did for her UFC debut went okay with a several month head start.
The UFC hired a dietitian, George Lockhart, to hopefully get Justino to cut down to 135. Lockhart took over cutting her weight for her second fight in the UFC in September. Sufficed to say the cut didn’t go well as seen in the video below.
After the fight, Justino stated Lockhart had changed her birth control medication to help, but it wound up hurting more than helping. The Monday after the fight she saw a doctor, Dr. Ulyssea Pinto, who was familiar with USADA policies, and prescribed Spironolactone, which is used to control Aldosterone, a hormone produced by your adrenal glands to help regulate the salt and water balance in the body.
The criticism has been that the drug is also know as a dietetic and possible masking agent for steroids.
The Positive Test
After the horrible cut, Justino was offered a shot at Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie, both which she refused due to her body needing to recover from the bad weight cut.
On December 5th, USADA gather a random out of competition sample from Justino and confirmed a positive test for Spironolactone, which is banned under USADA testing. The UFC quickly put out a press release about the positive result.
It didn’t take long for Justin to respond, telling her side of the story. Her doctor and her team had already started paperwork for a retro-active therapeutic use exemption (TUE), which can be accepted if it was an emergency or extraordinary circumstances.
What Happens Now
USADA will have to make a decision if the retro-active TUE will be accepted or not, and if it is not, a hearing will be set to recommend a punishment. An extreme case would be a year for an out-of-competition test. If it is accepted, she would be out of trouble and could be out only for a few months until her system clears the drug after her therapy.
USADA’s “Cloudy” UFC History
There is some worry as USADA’s policies don’t always makes sense.
BJ Penn admitted to using an IV in an application for USADA, not knowing USADA had banned a certain amount during training camps. He was put on a six month suspension.
Lyoto Machida was afraid of taking a banned substance and immediately reported it to USADA. USADA tested him and found nothing, but immediately suspended him for 18 months.
“The information relayed to the athletes were insufficient,” Machida told MMA Fighting. “The full list of all prohibited supplements, in an easier way to read, I only received via text message, this week, on the day after my suspension. The previous formats were not clear. To teach and educate should also be the duties of an institution that is committed to the advancement of a clean sport and not only for punishing.”
This past summer, Brock Lesnar got an exemption from three months of testing when he returned to the UFC. He soon tested positive for Clomifene, an USADA banned substance.
What We Have Learned
All parties have been given some food for thought.
The UFC has never been known for its discretion and “guilty until proven innocent” has done a lot of harm to a lot of fighters. Little they can do if a fight is scheduled and someone tests positive. It hasn’t stopped them though influencing positive (see Lesnar) and or using it as a negative tool to discredit fighters. Fight Associations and Unions are looking for a fair due process in terms of alleged violations.
The fighters need a better way of looking up banned substances. With a long list of items they can’t use, an app would be nice to check when fighters are on the run or with their doctor, even if they are familiar with USADA rules.
That being said, fighters still need consult the USADA website or text the USADA after being prescribed a drug by a doctor and looking at questionable over the counter supplements or natural drugs.
Worse Case Scenario?
Justino could technically fight, just not in the UFC.
Many commissions don’t recognize “out of competition” tests, although it is somewhat frowned upon by USADA. Nevada and California tend to fall in line with USADA in terms of fight licenses, but it’s a gray area.
Since Invicta is not under USADA, she could fight her USADA suspension there, but that would be up to the UFC, who still holds her contract.