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USADA: Mirko Cro Cop doping case was 'initiated prior to his retirement'

Retirement isn't going to keep Mirko Cro Cop out of USADA's crosshairs.

The sequence of events regarding Cro Cop's injury, retirement from the UFC and potential anti-doping violation seems a bit murky. But USADA clarified in a statement to MMA Fighting via spokesperson Annie Skinner on Friday that Cro Cop's doping case "was initiated prior to his retirement."

"As the independent organization in charge of the UFC Anti-Doping program, USADA handles all results management and adjudication processes in accordance with the UFC rules," Skinner wrote in an email. "Although Mr. Filipovic has announced his retirement publicly, this case was initiated prior to his retirement, and as required by the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will be fully adjudicated."

On Tuesday, Cro Cop, whose real name is Mirko Filipovic, announced on his website that he was pulling out of his fight with Anthony Hamilton at UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Alves on Nov. 28 in Seoul, South Korea due to a shoulder injury. Cro Cop added that injuries have forced him to retire from the sport after 14 years.

Things took a turn Wednesday, though, when the UFC announced that Cro Cop was provisionally suspended by USADA due to a potential anti-doping policy violation. That -- not the injury -- was cited as the reason why the fight between Cro Cop and Hamilton was called off.

Cro Cop took to his website again Thursday in an attempt to clarify that happened. The former PRIDE grand prix champion said a doctor injected him with a small amount of human growth hormone and plasma to help with a shoulder injury that would not heal, because he was "desperate" to make the fight. Six days into the treatment, Cro Cop was tested by USADA. Knowing he had used a banned substance, Cro Cop said he immediately informed the UFC.

In the statement, Cro Cop maintained that he was retiring due to injuries and not USADA. He threw shade at the independent anti-doping agency for penalizing him despite him stepping away from the sport.

"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."

Skinner said that USADA will not normally comment on ongoing cases unless a fighter makes facts public first. Cro Cop is the first UFC fighter provisionally suspended by USADA for a potential anti-doping violation since the new anti-doping program began in July.

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