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Wanderlei Silva admits to taking diuretics, punishment to be considered at later date

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Speaking through his lawyer, Wanderlei Silva stated at Tuesday's Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) meeting that the reason he refused to undergo a random NAC sanctioned drug test on May 24 is because he was concerned that the test would show the presence of diuretics in his system, which he claims he began taking along with anti-inflammatories prescribed by a UFC doctor in order to help him recover from a fractured right wrist he suffered in February while coaching The Ultimate Fighter Brazil.

"I want to say, first and foremost, that Wanderlei Silva has been fighting for 20 years, has over 50 professional fights, and has never failed a drug test," said Silva's lawyer, Ross Goodman.

"He was taking diuretics for the sole purpose of minimizing the inflammation, to decrease the water retention. He now realized that he should have submitted to the drug test. He was surprised. It was the first time in his career where something like this (happened), out of competition, somebody showed up at his gym. That doesn't negate or minimize what Mr. Silva did. He's here to apologize to the commission, and he was concerned that the diuretics would show up on his sample."

Diuretics are commonly classified as a banned substance due to their use as a masking agent to prevent detection of other illegal substances in an athlete's system.

Silva's admission followed a detailed timeline of events laid out by NAC Executive Director Bob Bennett, as well as the independent representative who attempted to collect Silva's blood and urine sample on May 24 in advance of Silva's scheduled bout against Chael Sonnen at UFC 175.

The collector stated that he arrived at Silva's gym during the mid-afternoon and personally introduced himself to the fighter, explaining that he was there on request of the NAC and required a blood and urine sample, to which Silva replied in acknowledgement. Silva subsequently requested to speak to his manager/trainer, who was present at the gym, then briefly walked into an office in the middle of the gym before exiting quickly.

"[Silva] walked back to the front counter," the collector recalled. "And then walked past the office towards the back of the gym, and then went around the corner to the right. I casually followed behind him. When I turned around the corner, I realized there was an exit there and a bathroom. I didn't see him anywhere."

Silva's wife subsequently called the gym's phone and informed the collector that "they were not expecting the blood and urine test, and needed to do it later." After being informed that the test needed to be completed immediately, Silva's wife contacted Bennett and told the executive director that Silva would now "cooperate" with the collector, although she did not know where Silva presently was.

Silva did not respond to subsequent texts and calls from either the collector or Bennett, which led to Bennett contacting UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner and explaining the situation.

"As you can see," Bennett said, "Between [the collector] and myself, we made every possible concerted effort to have Mr. Silva administer a blood and urine sample to us, to which he did not."

Goodman confirmed at Tuesday's meeting that Silva did not dispute any aspect of the commission's timeline of events.

"I think it's been well known that this commission has made an effort to eradicate unarmed combat on any illegal drugs or any unauthorized drugs," NAC chairman Francisco Aguilar said. "And in that effort we have developed a drug program that we feel helps us accomplish that goal, both in MMA and in boxing, and this is going to be part of the norm.

"It's well known that the UFC is working with us in that effort, and this is an example of what can happen if someone does not comply.

"Our intent was to find out and gather information so the other commissioners are aware of the facts as it pertains to this situation," Aguilar finished. "The commission will move forward with this drug program. We will take the information we gathered today in consideration and make a determination as to what our next steps will be."

Silva's case is expected be reviewed at a hearing on a yet-to-be-announced date, during which commission officials will deliberate regarding potential disciplinary action for the 37-year-old's refusal to submit to the May 24 random drug test.