Anderson Silva tests positive for banned substance, legendary career hangs in balance

Combat columnist
Legendary former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is accused of failing an Oct. 26 anti-doping test, putting his career in jeopardy. (Getty)
Legendary former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is accused of failing an Oct. 26 anti-doping test, putting his career in jeopardy. (Getty)

The career of UFC legend Anderson Silva hangs in the balance after the UFC announced in a short news release that Silva failed an out-of-competition drug test given on Oct. 26. He has been removed from his scheduled Nov. 25 bout in Shanghai against Kelvin Gastelum and the UFC is looking for someone to fight Gastelum.

Silva was suspended one year in 2015 by the Nevada Athletic Commission after failing a post-fight test for an anabolic steroid following a UFC 183 bout with Nick Diaz.

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Silva is considered innocent, but if the B sample comes back positive, he’ll face a potential lifetime ban. A second violation of the UFC’s anti-doping policy would result in a minimum of a two-year suspension and more likely a four-year ban, which, if the 42-year-old Silva were to receive that kind of a penalty, would in essence end his career.

There is no word what substance Silva tested positive for. The UFC’s statement in full:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Anderson Silva of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on October 26, 2017. As a result, Silva has been provisionally suspended by USADA. Due to the proximity of Silva’s upcoming scheduled bout at UFC Fight Night, Shanghai, China on November 25, 2017 against Kelvin Gastelum, Silva has been removed from the card and UFC is currently seeking a replacement.

USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Silva. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.

It would be a sad and ignominious way to end a spectacular career if Silva were to be found guilty of this violation. Though anabolic steroids were found in his system following the Diaz bout in 2015 — before the UFC had contracted with USADA to run its anti-doping program — Silva made a weak excuse about being given pills in an unmarked blue bottle from a friend he wouldn’t name who was in Thailand. He said the pills were supposed to be some sort of sexual enhancement drug.

Silva tested positive for drostanolone and methyltestosterone in 2015. In an email to Yahoo Sports at the time, Travis Tygart, USADA’s CEO, said methyltestosterone could significantly enhance performance.

“Methly-T is a classic performance enhancing drug, and is effective, fast-acting and can build lean muscle mass quickly,” Tygart told Yahoo Sports via e-mail in 2015. “It would certainly be a potent performance enhancer, particularly in a combat sport.”

Silva is considered among the greatest MMA fighters of all-time. He held the UFC’s middleweight title from Oct. 14, 2006, when he stopped Rich Franklin, until July 6, 2013, when he was knocked out by Chris Weidman. He made 10 consecutive successful title defenses, which was at the time a record since surpassed by flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.

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