Disgraced UFC middleweight Cung Le was suspended for one year after he flunked a drug test for elevated levels of human growth hormone (HGH) following his UFC Fight Night 48 loss to Michael Bisping.

Not many (if any) were surprised at the news given that Le had posted a photo of himself online looking incredibly ripped for a 42-year-old man. It wasn’t enough to beat Bisping, however, as the former Strikeforce champion succumbed to a brutal fourth round combo that left him battered and bloodied.

But from Le’s point of view, the whole thing is anyone’s but his own fault. He released a video lashing out at his haters, noting that the photo in question was taken in good lighting and his physique was the result of hard work and a proper diet.

While the UFC’s test (which they implemented given that the event took place in Macau) revealed stark evidence otherwise, Le and his team are now set to fight the ruling full force.

They’re planning to appeal the result of the sample, which was sent to the Hong Kong Functional Medicine Testing Center after the fight, did not live up to the strict World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards for a valid test.

For his part, Le discussed his appeal with the Los Angeles Times, noting that if the proper test had been implemented, then he never would have been in this position:

“I’m glad I’m able to appeal and am very confident. The facts are out there. If the right test had been done, this would have never happened. This is new to everyone — to the UFC, obviously — and I’m happy to now have the chance I deserve to appeal after taking a pounding and getting called a cheater by people who’ve never researched my career or taken note that it was spotless before this.”

Apparently Le and his manager Gary Ibarra are protesting the result on the basis of studies taken from the British and American Journals of Sports Medicine which reveal that HGH levels can show up 500x that of natural levels post-exertion, which Le was obviously in when he was first tested. He described the circumstances of the test immediately after his loss to Bisping:

“My levels were high because I was in recovery mode. They pull me into the drug testing room, telling me to test. I’m bleeding all over the place and they haven’t started stitching me up yet. They clean me up a little … I had three cuts on my face.

The lady starts sticking me, having a hard time finding a vein. I look down, a stream of blood is flying off my arm. My urine was completely bloody because of my eye injury, I had bruised ribs … you think the body wouldn’t be under stress?”

Well, the body certainly would be under stress after taking a beating from a top UFC middleweight, but is that enough to test hot for HGH? Maybe it is. We’ll just have to wait and see what comes of his appeal, but I’ll leave you with this. Here’s a photo of Le earlier in his UFC career a couple years back next to the photo of him flexing as a 42-year-old fighter who was set to make his return after almost two years off:

He may claim good genetics and enhanced mood lighting, but the bottom line is that fighters don’t start getting more and more in shape all of the sudden at his age. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. He’s of course innocent until proven guilty, and there were most likely some mistakes made in how the UFC handled the situation.

With their global expansion still in its infancy, the UFC obviously doesn’t have the regulation of their own testing down to an exact science. That could ultimately see Le’s test result lifted. But at the end of the day, even if he does get off, is Le just using a loophole to deflect a finding that most people already assumed about him?

He may be getting hung out to dry, but something tells me that he will soon have no more people to blame but himself. What do you think?

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