Yoel Romero will become the first UFC fighter to appeal a USADA suspension.
The UFC middleweight was hit with a suspension from the third-party organization recently for a potential anti-doping violation and plans on appealing the ban, sources told MMA Fighting on Tuesday.
MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani was the first to report the news.
Romero failed an out-of-competition drug test in December. His team has claimed that Romero took a dietary supplement that was contaminated with a banned substance. The substance has yet to be revealed publicly by Romero or USADA.
Sources said that Romero's team and USADA discussed a deal for a nine-month suspension for the fighter, but Romero preferred to go to arbitration. The typical USADA anti-doping violation suspension is two years, sources said. The arbitrator can issue a penalty anywhere from a public warning to the two-year suspension. Mirko Cro Cop and Gleison Tibau have each received a two-year ban since the UFC brought in USADA to lead its anti-doping program last July.
The filing fee for a USADA arbitration case is $2,700, though Romero may request a waiver or reduction of the filing fee for "good cause on the basis of financial hardship," per the UFC's policy with USADA. Romero is responsible for paying his own travel. The UFC will pay for the cost of an arbitrator or arbitrators, the policy states. The arbitrator or arbitrators will come from McLaren Global Sport Solutions.
It's unclear at this time when the arbitration hearing will take place.
Romero (11-1) is one of the top middleweight fighters in the world and would have been in line for a title shot before the failed drug test. The 38-year-old Cuba native is a former wrestling silver medalist in the Olympics and owns wins over Lyoto Machida, Ronaldo Souza and Tim Kennedy.