Anderson Silva banned for a year after bizarre drug test hearing
Former UFC middleweight champion and ‘pound for pound’ legend, Anderson Silva was banned for one year at last night’s at the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) hearing.
Silva was tested four times, twice during his training camp and pre/post his UFC 183 fight with Nick Diaz on January 31st for performance enhancing drugs. He failed three of the four tests.
When filing his UFC 183 paperwork with the NSAC he claimed to be using no supplements, yet it transpired at the hearing he was on seven. The most controversial among them was an erectile dysfunction medication, Cialis that he acquired from an acquaintance he only knew for a year who apparently got it in Thailand.
If the revelation that one of the most dominant MMA fighters ever was drugs cheat wasn’t bad enough, Silva’s defence and the team around him made things entirely worse.
For starters the expert witness the Silva team brought was Paul Scott. While normally a doctor is the expert witness Scott is not, but runs his own Scott Analytics laboratory and is formerly employed by the UCLA laboratory. He immediately ran into trouble when he wasn’t able to produce any supporting documentation on the tests he ran on the supplements Silva was taking. He was even unsure as to how many supplements he actually tested.
When you couple this with the fact that he been disqualified as an expert witness in an anti-doping case by a New York City police commissioner, you begin to wonder why he was even there. The commission got him to admit he was less than an expert on the subject at hand.
When the questions began to circle around the Cialis, Silva responding through an interpreter appeared to plead the Fifth Amendment; invoking the privilege that allows a witness to decline to answer questions that might incriminate him or her, without penalty or it counting against him.
This sparked a confrontation between the interpreter and Silva’s manager Ed Soares. When matters resumed, Soares took the role as translator, as he has done at media engagements for Silva, and claimed Silva hadn’t pleaded the Fifth but merely responded ‘its personal’.
What followed was over an hour’s worth of questioning focused around why an athlete would consume a clear liquid containing unknown chemicals and pharmaceuticals from an unlabelled blue vial to aid sexual performance so close to a fight?
Silva’s response was to say he was embarrassed and… wait for it… ‘I didn’t think it would come up’.
What annoyed the commission further was his ambivalence towards the dates he consumed the supplements. On his paperwork he declared he took nothing, but it transpired he was taking substances right up to the night before the fight.
Regarding the erectile dysfunction medication, first he claimed he stopped taking it three months out from January 31st. Then he said he stopped around January 8th but finally admitted he took it the night before the fight. This substance was responsible for him testing positive for drostanolone, an anabolic steroid.
The four tests found Silva to have four illegal substances in his system. His ‘soft testimony’ as the commission described it and his apparent unwillingness to tell ‘the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ let the regulators no choice but to hit him hard.
Though his lawyer pleaded for leniency the NSAC imposed a one year retroactive ban and fined him his win bonus plus 30pc of his purse, which amounts to $380,000.
The icing on the cake during the hearing was the anonymous DJ. The NSAC provide a telephone line for media and witnesses to dial in and listen and participate in proceedings. Someone hacked the phone line and played a number of choice tracks at various points during the hearing.
As the discussion centred on the Cialis we were treated to ‘Lets talk about sex’ by Salt n’Pepa, ‘It wasn’t me’ by Shaggy, ‘Bump n’ Grind’ by R.Kelly among others.
In summing up Commissioner Anthony Marnell stated ‘I think he’s done excellent things, but this is the first time he’s really been subject to enhanced testing,” he said.
“We’re just playing games. And that’s my frustration at all this soft testimony.”
He also complimented the anonymous hacker for his choice of tracks – “We have a great DJ by the way”
While Silva’s career now has a blotch on the record, it’s not all bad. As the ban is retroactive, his one year suspension began on the 31st January 2015. He only has a little over five months to sit out and could be back in the Octagon as early as February 2016.
Had Silva failed his test under the new enhanced regulations he probably would have been looking at a three year ban, which would have effectively ended the 40 year old Brazilian’s career.
While the process was lightened by the musical interludes, this was a sad day for MMA and Anderson Silva.