In an effort to clean up the sport, today’s new and enhanced MMA landscape where the UFC has partnered with USADA to implement a world-class anti-doping regimen, drug test failures for performance-enhancing drugs have become much more commonplace and public in fighting than ever before.
Perhaps it was to be expected as the sport continues to struggle with the program more than two years since its inception, but some high-profile failures have wrecked what would have otherwise been huge events, and some would even argue that the UFC’s partnership with USADA is actually doing more harm than good for the promotion.
That’s ridiculous, of course, as preventing a highly trained athlete from beating another athlete while under the benefit of PEDs is obviously a very good thing – yet there are signs that USADA’s timing and overall implementation could use some smoothing out of their own. Those details are another discussion for another time, however. With big UFC PPVs being ruined by drug test failures seemingly a regular occurrence these days, it brings to light how drug testing has affected events and even fighters’ careers both in the past and present.
We took a look back at the 10 most devastating drug test failures in MMA history, and the results found show just how impactful they were on the still-young sport. Check them out:
Cris Cyborg – Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal:
The drug test that UFC women’s featherweight champ Cristiane ‘Cyborg’ Justino failed for stanozolol after her thunderous 16-second TKO of Hiroko Yamanaka in December 2011 is arguably the most impactful on this list as it’s caused Cyborg to be followed by a reputation as a steroid user, and probably always will.
She was suspended for one year, stripped of her Strikeforce women’s featherweight belt, and her win over Yamanaka was changed to a no-contest. The failure was one of the main reasons (along with weight) why former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey wouldn’t fight Cyborg, and that topic was again brought up when original UFC 145-pound champion Germaine de Randamie refused to defend the belt against Cyborg, even if it could certainly be argued there were several other factors in play there.
It appeared Cyborg was headed into a disappointing squandering of her talent when she was popped for a USADA violation last year, but she was able to clear her name of that violation by claiming a prescribed substance she used during her foolish cuts down to 140 pounds for the UFC in 2016.
For what it’s worth, she’s apparently complied with all of the rigorous requirements of the UFC’s anti-doping program with USADA (despite rumors otherwise), but her career will always be shrouded by her singular failure in Strikeforce.