Two years was too much, according to Mirko Cro Cop.
The MMA legend told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour that he believes it was not fair USADA gave him a two-year suspension when he never failed a drug test. Cro Cop, who admitted to growth hormone use in November, does not think he should get the same sanction as others who actually came back positive.
"The whole thing that happened with USADA, it just isn't supposed to happen," Cro Cop said. "It just isn't supposed to happen. I could be warned. I could be, at the end of the day, suspended a few months. Six months, whatever. But when your test comes completely negative and you suspend that person for two years, the same sentence like some other fighters who was caught after the fight, so they did the fight under doping, under prohibited substances that was found in their body. And they get the same suspension? That isn't justice."
Cro Cop was supposed to face Anthony Hamilton at UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Alves back in November in South Korea. But Cro Cop pulled out of that bout due to a shoulder injury. It was announced shortly after that Cro Cop was facing a UFC anti-doping policy violation. Cro Cop admitted to USADA that he was using human growth hormone, a banned substance, to treat his shoulder injury in an effort to make the fight.
Cro Cop, 41, retired from MMA in the wake of the controversy. Two weeks after the initial announcement, the UFC announced that USADA had suspended Cro Cop for two years. Cro Cop's drug tests ended up coming back negative, but the admission was deemed to be enough.
The situation still does not sit right with Cro Cop, who has seen other fighters have their positive drug tests come back after they fight, like Brock Lesnar. Lesnar was tested June 28 and the positive result for clomiphene didn't come back until days after he beat Mark Hunt at UFC 200 on July 9.
"They were caught after the fight," Cro Cop said. "So they put the money in their pocket, they fought, they earned the money and they get the same sentence like I did. It's not fair. But let's not talk about it anymore. I just had to mention it. From my point of view, that is not justice."
Lesnar is facing a two-year suspension, but the adjudication process is not yet complete. Currently, he is only provisionally suspended by USADA. Lesnar is also facing sanctions from the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC), because the sample was taken in close proximity to his fight in Las Vegas.
Cro Cop also takes umbrage with an offer he said USADA made to him. USADA, per Cro Cop, said it would consider reducing his suspension if he informed the agency about other fighters using performance-enhancing drugs. There is a rule about that in the UFC's anti-doping policy, called "Substantial Assistance in Discovering or Establishing Anti-Doping Policy Violations."
"Offering a fighter that the suspension will be reduced if I snitched on someone, it is below every level," Cro Cop said. "That's how I see it. If I'm guilty punish me, but don't come with that kind of offer. And if you punish me for being completely negative, which means i didn't use any prohibited substance, you cannot give me the same punish [as others]."
The UFC released Cro Cop recently, because he would not be able to compete for the promotion again until 2017. The Croatian star signed with Rizin Fighting Federation and will compete in its openweight grand prix tournament beginning in September.
Cro Cop (31-11-2, 1 NC) said he enjoyed his time in the UFC, even if USADA's actions didn't sit well with him. He's focusing now on the future. Cro Cop still feels like he has more left in the tank with regards to MMA.
"I did nothing wrong" Cro Cop said. "At the end of the day, who cares? It's behind me. What happened happened. It's behind me now."