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CSAC: Josh Barnett Failed First Random Drug Test in California State History

There are still many questions that have been left unanswered in the wake of Josh Barnett's positive test for an anabolic steroid, which has forced Affliction to find a new opponent for Fedor Emelianenko on August 1. FanHouse spoke to the California State Athletic Commission's assistant executive officer, Bill Douglas, Wednesday evening to find out more about this situation and what it means for Barnett's MMA future in the United States.

The full interview with Douglas is below.

Ariel Helwani: Is there any chance that Barnett could be cleared to compete on August 1?
Bill Douglas: It's doubtful it will be a possibility given the time frames necessary to properly process a sample like this. One of the reasons why it was done so early ahead of time for the bout was one: it was largely an unannounced test. I mean, essentially when the decision was made, Josh had 48 hours to appear to go ahead and take the test; and two: taking the processing times into account, knowing that if sample one comes back with a positive result, and this is how it would be for anybody, it's going to result in action. So, the probability is low that it's going to be done in time.

What was his reaction when you informed him of the news?
He was notified [Tuesday] actually. And he's been the upmost professional, as anybody would expect of him, just fantastic in terms of the news receipt. I have nothing but the highest compliment to pay him in terms of his professionalism, the consummate professional truthfully.

He didn't raise any kind of issue about this at all?
Nope, not a fuss.

Did he ask for this test to take place?
No, he did not.

Did Fedor Emelianenko have to take a similar test?
No, he did not. It was just a random selection.

How does the random selection process work? In other words, how do you come to the decision that a particular fighter is going to be tested?
Well, in some cases it's a random selection truthfully. I mean, just whomever the staff member will decide to select, and in some cases if there's prior history, that is also a flag, it is. Especially in the case of athletes that may have a previous violation, as recognized by another athletic commission, it allows us that opportunity to test that individual and require a clean test prior to renewal of a license.

Since this is Barnett's second positive test, does this mean he will never be allowed to fight in California again? (Ed. note: In 2002, Barnett tested positive in Nevada for the steroid, Boldenone, following his victory over Randy Couture. He was subsequently stripped of the UFC heavyweight title.)
No, actually if you look at this, it is a license denial; a denial of the license for this bout. So it's a little different from some things in the past. There is no suspension here. There is no fine. So theoretically, if Josh were to fight out of country, there would be no opposition because we don't have the jurisdiction outside of our boundaries in other countries when it's a case like this. If he were to go to another state, it's really up to that state's athletic commission what action they want to take. There have been cases in the past where they have looked at a license denial from a commission and they could potentially say, 'You know, we're going to honor that state's license denial, we're not going to grant licensure here.' And there have been other states that have said, 'You know what? That state has denied you, but we're going to go ahead and grant you that license.' It's really as simple as that.

Why did Barnett have to apply for a new license when he fought in California last January?
Because ... he received his first one off of the prior fight with Pedro Rizzo.

So, because that was the first time he had fought in the United States on over two years, he had to apply for a license, which he got it, and then as a result, that allowed him to fight in the second fight against Gilbert Yvel?
Exactly. Because he was still licensed, and in the timing of this fight on August 1, his license from the Pedro Rizzo fight was expired, so this was a brand new license for him. Because the license he got under the first two times for Affliction was actually in effect from July of 2008.

Many fighters have openly questioned the CSAC's testing methods in the past. Do you feel comfortable with everything that has transpired in terms of this particular testing process?
The inspector that observed this particular test is one of our drug testing experts in terms of the correction procedure, and works on many events of this nature, and oversees a lot of the drug testing that's performed by our staff. In this particular case, this was a hands-on test that he performed himself.

So in terms of the correction procedure, it was flawless as recognized by the laboratory upon delivery of the sample the same day. And in terms of the lab itself, we have been using the same lab that tests the NFL and the International Olympic Games, as recently as the last Games, they tested every sample ever took there. They test the NCAA for all the sports, all minor league baseball. It's a very, very tough lab to dispute - the best of them all.

Can you shed some more light on the banned substance he tested positive for, Drostanolone?
Yeah. It's been classified by the laboratory as a true anabolic steroid.

Can there be any other reason for one to have it in their system?
No, it's currently a prohibited substance, where in this case -- this is one of the substances that is prohibited from even having the mere presence of it in your system. Sometimes there are threshold cutoffs with certain drugs that people may use. This is one of those substances where the mere presence of it in the urine is a positive finding.

Were there high levels of it in his system?
The levels of it were not calculated in terms of this particular drug because it is one of those drugs where the mere presence is enough.

Has Affliction contacted the commission about a possible replacement yet?
No, we've just heard the rumors that have been out there, but nothing concrete at this time.

Would you have an issue if his opponent were to be Vitor Belfort, considering the fact that he was supposed to fight at 185 pounds and would now be fighting a heavyweight?
It's hard for to me say about that at this time, but considering the other two names that I've seen there, I think it'd be likely that the other two be a lot easier to approve at this point than that one. Not to say that's it's not an approvable fight; there are just a lot of questions that need to be asked. There would be some quick decisions that would need to be made, and until we have something concrete, we are not prepared to move in that direction. Not to say that it wouldn't, it's just that we don't have anything concrete at this time.

Will anyone else be randomly tested for this particular event?
Potentially, but definitely for other upcoming events. ... Because in terms of the Barnett test, even though the rules had passed in the earlier part of this year, allowing a test of this nature to occur, California was truly breaking new ground here even though Nevada has done similar testing for quite some time, this is the first time it had ever been done in California. So we really didn't know what it was going to be like, or how it was going to work out. Particularly in the case of, where you're randomly calling someone up and you say, 'You have x amount of hours to appear for this test, or x amount of days,' because literally that phone call can come at any time. So it was almost a trial, so to speak, to see what the process was going to be like moving forward so we can learn from this. And it just so happens that the first one we've ever done here in California produced a result.

This is the first one ever?
First one ever. I mean, right out of the gate.

That's incredible.
It's unbelievable.

Have you done any since?
No, because at this point it was truly a trial case because this was a different type of test in terms of the setting. Normally, we're testing in settings where the place, the location, everything is predetermined; everybody knows where they're going to be, and the athletes know they're going to be tested. Everybody knows that stuff ahead of time. And in California it's generally done after the win, or in some cases day of fight. But everybody knows generally when it's coming. This was something so unique because we have never done it before.

Is it safe to say that all fighters are aware of the fact that they could be called upon to take a random drug test?
Well, I would hope so considering that we did a press release on the rule changes back when they first occurred. And actually I remember that going out because I had a hand in not only typing it, but releasing it. It went out where it was reported. A lot of times information is shared through various reporting sites, through the media, and that's where a lot of people get their information. Particularly when it comes to the martial arts community, sometimes that's the most effective way to communicate something that's coming out. And I remember when the rule change hit, because a lot of Web sites picked up and reported on it. And so I figured that at some point licensees were going to see that and say, 'Ok, there's been a change here.' But there were also some people internally in the office that figured, 'Is anybody really going to get it or pay attention until there's an incident?' And now there is one.

What an unfortunate turn of events.
Yeah, I'm surprised. I'm shocked.