What could cause a 6’4”, 240-plus-pound mixed martial arts fighter to feel uneasy?
After sharing the cage with the likes of Cain Velasquez, Stipe Miocic, Fabricio Werdum, and countless other bad men, a man like Junior dos Santos could easily pass for fearless. But JDS is a smart man, and he knows what impacts his career – which is why one of the UFC’s partners holds the distinction of making even JDS feel afraid.
He’s one of only two men to ever defeat the current and longest defending heavyweight champion in history in Miocic. After losing the rematch, JDS was ready to rebound with a bout against rising contender Francis Ngannou. Then it happened – JDS was notified of a potential anti-doping violation and pulled from the UFC 215 bout.
It was a massive setback, particularly because the fighter maintained his innocence throughout the entire situation. But the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has some of the most thorough testing procedures in the industry, leaving many to believe any fighter who gets flagged by them is guilty automatically – with the processes that follow seemingly like nothing but a formality.
But JDS was able to win this bout just like he won the heavyweight title – fighting against the odds. He was successful in proving his failed test was the result of a tainted supplement. Since he was already pulled from competition after the test results originally came back, his suspension for negligence was applied retroactively.
Now he’s set to return to competition in July against Blagoy Ivanov. But what should feel like a moment of triumph has left an uneasy feeling lingering in the back of JDS’s mind. He knows how his livelihood could be impacted by USADA, and after losing out on roughly a year of his career, he isn’t crazy about the way they do business.
He said: “I spent nine months out and it was horrible. The problem is that you’re found guilty before anything else. You’re found guilty until proven innocent. That only happens with USADA.”
Despite saying he keeps a positive disposition about most things, JDS admitted he was scared that he wouldn’t be able to prove his innocence. He said he also takes steps to have everything he is taking tested by USADA, in hopes he won’t go through this type of situation again.
He also discussed his attempts at a desperate solution – giving up supplements altogether. But he admitted that was not feasible, as high-level athletes simply can’t get all the nutrients they need from their food. Supplements are not regulated the same way medicine is, so it is possible that contamination is more likely than most would think. It’s a tough situation, as USADA doesn’t want to allow for unfair advantages but they also can’t be allowed to derail an innocent fighter’s career.
USADA took over drug testing duties several years back after WME-IMG purchased the UFC from the Fertitta brothers. Previously, state athletic commissions handled the testing.