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Gleison Tibau admits EPO use: 'I took it without imagining I was doing something wrong'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Gleison Tibau won’t return to the Octagon anytime soon.

The longtime UFC veteran tested positive for EPO following his first-round submission victory over Abel Trujillo in November. He told MMA Fighting on Tuesday that he was issued a two-year suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). According to Tibau, he has decided not to appeal anymore. MMA Junkie first reported the news.

"It’s going to be it," Tibau told MMA Fighting. "They asked me if I wanted to appeal, but it was too tiresome. Three months of meetings at the court, that’s tiring. I don’t want to appeal anymore. I’m done. I expected it to be easier, but that demands a lot from you mentally, physically and financially. If I wanted to continue the appeal, I would have to pay all the court costs from now on, I would have to pay my lawyer, and the suspension would probably go down only three or six months, I don’t know, so I decided not to appeal."

Tibau says he has no idea how much money he would need to continue his battle against the suspension, and the possibility of making no money off fighting for 24 months made him drop the appeal. Tibau wasn’t confident he would be cleared at all, either. The best scenario for him, he thought, was an 18-month suspension.

"I don’t even know," Tibau said when asked how much money he would need to invest in the case. "Talking to the USADA guys, if I appealed the suspension I would have to pay all the court costs from now on, and my lawyer. Calculating all that, I have no clue, but it wouldn’t be cheap. A good lawyer here isn’t cheap, and also pay the court costs. It would be a lot of money, and maybe three or six months less in the end wouldn’t be worth it. But it’s sad. I don’t have anything left to say other than it was a mistake and I have to pay."

"I know two years won’t be easy," he continued. "I was always an active athlete, was always competing. The fighter only gets paid when he fights. You know we’re under contract with the UFC, but we only get paid when we fight. If you don’t fight, you don’t get paid. I don’t want to spend money with the court. I want to save the most I can because it’s going to be two long years for me."

Holding a 17-9 record under the UFC banner, Tibau admits he used the drug Erythropoietin (EPO) out of competition for the first time in his career, but thought it wouldn’t be a problem. Tibau also failed an in-competition test at UFC Fight Night 77.

"I’m upset," he said. "I have to apologize to my fans because it was a medical mistake. We used a substance we thought wouldn’t be anything, we used it out of competition. I have my conscience clear that I took it without imagining I was doing something wrong. It’s going to be hard for me, but I will pay the price for my mistake."

The Brazilian lightweight believes a two-year suspension would be too much. USADA declined to comment on Tibau's case and that time period is not official.

"I’m not speaking about myself here, but for others, two to four years is too much for a suspension," he said. "I think one year is enough for an athlete to recognize his mistakes, redeem himself and don’t make any mistake again. But two to four years… The athlete has a family and a life, he needs money. If he can’t fight in this period, what is he going to do? I think it’s too much."

The 32-year-old veteran vows to come back when his suspension is over, and wants to evolve as a fighter in the meantime.

"I want to use this time outside the Octagon to evolve and train, add more things to my game," Tibau said. "I want to evolve in those areas I need, and be back more versatile to bring joy to my fans and the UFC fans. During my entire career, I had big wins, losses, silly losses, tough losses, but I always had my head high, looking to grow and be better, and I won’t waste this time. Some people might think I will never be back, might think I’ll quit, but I’ll prove them wrong. I will be back stronger."

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