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'Desperate' Mirko Cro Cop admits to using growth hormone for shoulder injury

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Mirko Cro Cop said that he informed the UFC that he had taken a banned substance and that is why he is now suspended provisionally by USADA.

The MMA legend wrote on his website Thursday that in a "desperate" move to heal a shoulder injury, he got injections of growth hormone along with plasma treatment. A few days later, USADA came to test him. Cro Cop wrote that the results of the test are not even back yet, but when he was tested he informed the UFC immediately that he had used the drugs.

"Growth hormones are on the list of banned substances," Cro Cop wrote. "I knew that already. But there was no other way to save my shoulder--at least in my mind--without combining the blood plasma with growth hormones. Unfortunately it turns out the only cure was a good break and rest. But a desperate man will try anything.

"After 6 days of growth hormone and plasma injections, the USADA came to test me. I gave them my blood sample and urine samples and immediately told the UFC about the test. I also said that I had been taking blood plasma and growth hormone since nothing else was working."

Cro Cop, 41, was scheduled to face Anthony Hamilton at UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Alves on Nov. 28 in Seoul, South Korea. The UFC announced Wednesday that the bout was off due to Cro Cop being provisionally suspended by USADA pending an adjudication process for an anti-doping policy violation. One day earlier, Cro Cop said he was injured, out of the fight and would be retiring from MMA.

The former PRIDE grand prix champion is maintaining that he is retiring due to injuries and not because of the USADA suspension.

"I might be the first fighter who has ever been suspended after retirement," Cro Cop said. "Maybe they think it is good for them to sanction someone that is well known."

Cro Cop said he had been tested by the UFC five times during this current run with the promotion, coming back clean every time. He said the injections were of a small amount of the substance and that by the time the fight came, he would be fully clean. Cro Cop said he was asking the UFC not to cancel the bout up until this past weekend when he said his shoulder gave out and he knew he would not be able to compete. Cro Cop said an MRI done Monday showed a ruptured muscle and damaged tendons filled with liquid.

"It is stupid to even mention that the hormone only heals the body and that the dosages can probably only be detected for a few (10) days," Cro Cop said. "I would be perfectly clean until the fight.

"It did not make me any better or increase my performance like testosterone or anabolic steroids would, but those are the rules. On Friday, I was still telling them to not cancel the fight and that I wanted to fight because of all the hard work I had done."

Cro Cop was one of the most beloved fighters to come out of the PRIDE organization in Japan. He never found the same success in the UFC during three separate stints with the company. However, the Croatian fighter returned to the UFC in April to finish old nemesis Gabrial Gonzaga by third-round TKO.

"This calling out and suspensions have no meaning anymore, but I do understand the UFC; I get it," Cro Cop said. "They just want to defend themselves."