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Bellator’s Alexander Shlemenko releases statement on steroid ban being reduced

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Alexander Shlemenko has his sights set once again on the Bellator title.

The former Bellator middleweight champion released a statement regarding his drug suspension being reduced Thursday night, saying he's looking forward to resuming his career and "regaining" the Bellator belt.

On Wednesday, a court ruled that the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) suspension of Shlemenko should have only been effective until his license expired in February 2016. Shlemenko also had his fine cut to $5,000.

CSAC initially suspended him for three years and fined him $10,000 in June 15 after Shlemenko tested positive for steroids in February 2015. Shlemenko was found to have the substance oxandrolone in his system and had a testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio of 50:1, one of the highest ratios ever record in MMA. The sample was taken from a fight night test when Shlemenko fought — and knocked out — Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 133 in Fresno back in February 2015.

Shlemenko, 32, denied and continues to deny taking any performance-enhancing drugs. He remains under Bellator contract, though he fought twice this year for M-1 in Russia, which does not have an athletic commission affiliated with the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) in the United States. Shlemenko (53-9, 1 NC) can be licensed in the U.S. now as soon as he pays his fine.

The Los Angeles court upheld CSAC's finding that Shlemenko deserved a sanction and his win against Manhoef will remain a no contest. But the court's reasons stated said the commission violated Shlemenko's due process with regards to the suspension and that the commission fined him too much money. The initial notification letter sent to Shlemenko said he faced only a year suspension and the court ruled he could not be then given a three-year ban. As for the fine, $5,000 came from the claim that Shlemenko lied on documents, but the court said that it's only a violation if he had lied on a license application.

Shlemenko's lawyer Howard Jacobs argued that CSAC should be required to take a ‘B' sample, like it states in the WADA code. That is not a CSAC regulation and the court agreed that a ‘B' sample was not required by commission rule.

Read Shlemenko's full statement below:

I am am very happy to have this chapter behind me and am grateful to the US Court system for finding error with the CSAC findings and allowing me to immediately resume my career in the US.

By ruling that I am immediately eligible to fight, the Court specifically found that the CSAC violated basic due process rights. I hope that CSAC will now listen to the Court, and start treating those who choose to fight in California more fairly.  My only disappointment is that CSAC was not required to follow WADA rules and their own agreement with the UCLA test lab to test my B sample. This is of particular interest because CSAC claims to have sent more samples to UCLA than the lab actually received, showing further collection irregularities. I maintain my innocence and believe had a B sample been tested this process would not have been necessary and my victory over Melvin Manoff [sic] would had been validated.

Now it is time to look forward to resuming my career and regaining my Bellator belt.

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