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Li Jingliang tests positive for clenbuterol, temporarily suspended by NAC, but not USADA

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Clenbuterol has USADA and the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) divided.

UFC fighter Li Jingliang tested positive for the substance in a May 18 out-of-competition drug test, according to a UFC release Tuesday. USADA, though, will not be provisionally suspending him, because it is still investigating the cause of the positive test. In Jingliang's native China, meat is commonly contaminated with clenbuterol, per a WADA warning issued in 2011.

"USADA also informed the UFC that it initiated an investigation into the source of the prohibited substance detected in Jingliang's sample prior to notifying him of the potential violation," the UFC statement read. "Because of this investigation, USADA has not issued a provisional suspension against Jingliang at this time."

Also on Tuesday, the NAC temporarily suspended Jingliang for the test failure at its monthly meeting and he will have to go before the commission for a disciplinary hearing in the coming months. Jingliang is facing a suspension, fine and loss of result.

What's odd is that Jingliang fought and beat Anton Zafir by first-round knockout at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale on July 8 in Las Vegas. That is well after the drug test should have come back.  The NAC also has jurisdiction over the matter due to the sample collection being in close proximity to the fight. The victory will likely be overturned into a no contest by the NAC.

Jingliang did pass his in-competition test at the TUF Finale.

It is unclear when USADA informed the NAC of the positive test. MMA Fighting has filed a public records request with the commission in order to find out that information. NAC executive director Bob Bennett said he could not comment because Jingliang's case was still pending. USADA declined comment as well regarding the timing of the notification through spokesperson Ryan Madden.

USADA found no fault in the clenbuterol test failure by another Chinese UFC fighter Ning Guangyou earlier this month. USADA found through an investigation of Guangyou's dietary habits, whereabouts and lab reports that his clenbuterol ingestion was likely due to contaminated meat. Guangyou had "low parts per billion" of the substance in his system.

Guangyou was originally supposed to fight at UFC 202 in Las Vegas, but the NAC might not have licensed him, so the UFC moved his fight to UFC on FOX 21 in Vancouver.

Francisco Rivera is facing a UFC anti-doping violation after testing positive for clenbuterol, but said he visited Mexico right before the sample was collected and ate meat there. USADA has provisionally suspended Rivera unlike the two others, however. The agency has yet to comment on that case.

Clinically, clenbuterol can be used to treat breathing disorders in some countries. The drug is a stimulant and could have performance-enhancing capabilities, which is why it is on the WADA prohibited list.