A top heavyweight has been flagged by USADA.
Ben Rothwell is facing a UFC anti-doping policy violation stemming from a Feb. 6 sample collection, the UFC announced Tuesday. A potential violation typically occurs when a fighter fails a drug test or admits the use of a banned substance. The substance in question is not announced by the UFC nor USADA until the completion of the adjudication process unless the athlete divulges it first.
Rothwell, 35, was slated to face Fabricio Werdum at UFC 211 on May 13 in Dallas, but is now provisionally suspended pending the USADA investigation. It’s immediately unclear if the UFC will look for another opponent for Werdum for that card.
Rothwell, via his management team, provided this exclusive statement to MMA Fighting:
“With the recent news received from USADA, I would like to take this time to let everyone know I have been under the care of a physician and trying to overcome a medical illness.
“I would appreciate the chance to show that I have not cheated nor did I intend to cheat. Please hold your opinions of me until all the facts are out. I appreciate everyone's support as I go through the process with USADA.”
Rothwell (36-10) was suspended nine months by the UFC in 2013 for elevated levels of testosterone stemming from an in-competition sample collected in relation to Rothwell’s UFC 164 fight with Brandon Vera. Rothwell was a user of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) at the time, but tested for levels outside the threshold despite having a valid therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for that bout. He was not suspended by the Wisconsin Athletic Commission.
The previous failed drug test can be taken into account by USADA during its adjudication process to determine sanction length.
Rothwell, a Wisconsin native, was on a four-fight winning streak before falling via unanimous decision to Junior dos Santos in April 2016. Rothwell was supposed to meet Werdum last September, but withdrew due to injury.
Ariel Helwani contributed to this report.