UFC lightweight Piotr Hallmann isn't sure when it happened or how it happened, but he knows it did.
That 'it' doesn't refer to the ingestion of some sort of performance-enhancing drugs, but rather, the Brazilian athletic commissions' error(s) that led to a positive test result for drostanolone following his UFC Fight Night 51 loss to Gleison Tibau in Brasilia in September.
Hallmann, who is still in the early stages of appealing the results by CABMMA (or Brazil's athletic commission), spoke to Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour about the struggles he's experiencing trying to get to the bottom of what happened and where to turn next.
"It wasn't pleasant days, of course, but I can handle it," Hallmann said of the current predicament. "This I can say for sure. I never take this. I don't even know what kind of drug is it. It's even hard to find out what kind of drug this is, but I can say for sure I didn't take this."
Since news was announced that Hallmann had tested positive, the Polish fighter has taken his case to the media to clear his name of what he says is really just incompetence on the part of CABMMA. According to Hallmann, a CABMMA representative was sloppy in taking blood, both the act and storing of blood with proper labeling, when he was at the hospital after his bout. While Hallmann admits he can't quite pinpoint precisely what they mishandled, he argues the appearance of shoddiness in their operations is all he needs to see.
Besides, he argues, he never took anything. Something had to have gone wrong for his name to be brought up as a doper.
"Of course, when things like this come out and you are surprised by this," he explains. "it's tough to take something like this and don't know about it.
"If I take this, I would know about this. So, I think they made [a] mistake. I hope they make mistake and it's not intentional."
As for the drug drostanolone, Hallmann categorically denies taking anything or even a substance that could lead to a false positive. "It would have to be injection. I didn't any injection, especially in this period of time," he says. "There is no possibility for me that I take this and didn't knew about this."
Hallmann points to a series of incidents that he says underscore his point about CABMMA.
"Right after my fight when I walked back to my dressing room a very loud person who couldn't identify himself was shooting: "Doping! Doping!" and speaking in broken English," Hallmann said in a previous statement. "My coaches tried to figure out what the man wanted and finally it was clear that I needed to be escorted to a room where I was being tested, so like always I complied and gave my blood.
"At that moment I was badly injured and was waiting for transportation to the hospital. All of a sudden one of the people that tested me at the event drove all the way to the hospital telling us that something went wrong with the testing but at that time I was in extreme pain as the medical team was treating my broken jaw.
"The man understood and saw that it wasn't the best moment to do a second test as I was being injected with some painkillers. So the man apologized for the mistake and just left. During that moment I didn't make anything out of this strange situation as I know I'm a clean fighter who always have been professional with my career and never used any steroids or banned substance for that matter.
"But now the whole ordeal gives a different perspective and I feel that those mistakes they are referring to might be the reason of the failed test. I'm wondering what kind of mistakes can you make if they already took my blood right after the fight? The first thing that comes to mind is that the way they collected the samples have been done wrong or maybe misfiled.
Still, though, Hallmann admits he can pinpoint exactly what went wrong in the collection and testing process. "I am not detective," he notes. "I just get the message I am positive."
His argument is that's almost beside the point. Based on their denial, Hallmann thinks CABMMA wouldn't fess up even if they knew something was wrong.
"It's hard to say at what point they made mistake. I think they would not like to say they make mistake even if they will."
CABMMA responded to Hallmann's claims earlier in the week to MMA Fighting. Cristiano Sampaio, the COO of the Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission (CABMMA), said Hallmann's positive test came from a pre-fight urinalysis, not a blood examination. Moreover, that urine sample was tested twice at a WADA-accredited laboratory.
Hallmann argues the post-fight blood test could've been used to clear his name, but doesn't know why that wasn't done or what the status of that sample is today. He's also not sure how to respond to Sampaio's retorts, only to say in places like Brazil, getting a fair shake can be hard to come by in terms of public officials.
"I don't know," Hallmann says of what happened. "I just know that I didn't take this. I don't want to have any speculation. I just saw how they handle the test and care in the hospital.
"I always like to fight in Brazil. I was always happy to visit this country, even stay longer. But I can believe things are working different in that country."
The next step for Hallmann is to talk to his lawyers after they collect all of the relevant documents and information, which he says they are currently doing. After consultation with them, he'll know his next step. Interestingly, despite the public push back, Hallmann isn't sure he'll really see any appeal all the way through.
"I will try to have insight into information and all the procedure, but it could be not worth it to fight them. It's always hard to fight with the system.
"I will see what option I have, but to be honest, I don't believe in justice in some countries," he continues. "I need someone to help me fight for my rights. It won't be easy."
While all of that happens, Hallmann is aware of what a situation like this can do to his name or reputation. He's upset, he claims, but is ultimately powerless.
"I am concerned, but what can I do?," he asks. "I am upset about being accused, about being guilty...about being not guilty, but guilty, you know?"
Hallmann argues angry or insulting words heaped at him doesn't bother him. Those things, he says, are meaningless. But perception is reality. Even if he's able to clear his name, something he's still unsure about, there's no guarantee people will change their beliefs. That, more than anything, is what he's worried about.
"I even don't care what people say," he tells Helwani. "I am just upset at what happened."