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Anderson Silva's failed tests 'prompted' UFC to speed up action against PEDs

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

With the UFC holding a press conference on Wednesday to declare its revamped plan to combat the use of performance-enhancing drugs, it turns out that its record-breaking champion Anderson Silva was the catalyst for change.

During the hour-long press conference, in which UFC president Dana White, CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and COO Lawrence Epstein vowed to increase enhanced testing and enact harsher penalties for users of PEDs, it was made clear that Silva’s positive tests from UFC 183 prompted the action. Silva tested positive for drostanolone and androstane on a Jan. 9 out-of-competition test, and later failed for drostanolone in the post-fight test, along with the banned substances Oxazepam and Temazepam.

As the UFC officials declared the measures they would take to help rid the sport of PEDs, the shock of Silva’s positive test was brought up a couple of times.

"What happened was we started spending half a million dollars on out of competition testing," White said. "And I think when a guy like Anderson Silva gets caught, it definitely sends a message. I think that shocked the entire MMA community and the sports world. It shocked me. We were pretty blown away by it. And now we’re going to dig in."

Fertitta would later echo White’s sentiments, saying that Silva’s positive tests -- exacerbated later by Hector Lombard’s recently failed test from UFC 182 -- prompted the UFC to act urgently.

"We’ve been working on this for a couple of years," Fertitta said. "We’ve been in conversation with third parties for at least six or seven months. We made a lot of progress.

"What the Anderson Silva thing has prompted us to [do is] come out and address these issues, to make sure we’re speeding up the process. We don’t have the luxury of kind of sitting back and being academic and debating all these legal points. We just got to go. And however the cards fall they’re going to fall. But we’re going to make sure that fighters are being tested, and the results will be what the results will be."

Epstein added that the UFC still supports Silva, who is entitled to his due process with the Nevada Athletic Commission, and that his they would continue to do so as things unfold.

"Regardless of what happens, Anderson Silva has been a great champion and he’s been a great representative of the sport," Epstein said. "If something bad happened here, the Nevada Athletic Commission will handle that. But, he does have, he had a great career, and we’ll continue to honor that and stand behind him regardless of what happens with the athletic commission."