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Texas lifts sanctions from Cortney Casey in controversial doping case

UFC 211 photos
Cortney Casey’s victory over Jessica Aguilar has been put back on her record.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Sanctions imposed on a UFC fighter in a controversial doping case have been reversed.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) lifted a three-month suspension on Cortney Casey on Friday, per a letter sent to Casey obtained by MMA Fighting. Casey’s victory against Jessica Aguilar at UFC 211 has also been given back to her after it was overturned to a no contest.

Sources confirmed with MMA Fighting that Casey’s suspension was lifted on the internal Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) database. However, the database still has a no contest next to the record of her fight against Aguilar.

Casey’s drug test results from fight night May 13 came back with what the TDLR deemed as an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio. The test was considered a failure and the state issued the sanctions later that month.

However, according to UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky and other anti-doping experts, an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio does not mean an athlete is using a prohibited substance. When that elevated ratio shows up, WADA protocol is to do advanced testing.

Casey and the UFC requested the TDLR to have her “B” sample tested at the WADA-accredited SMRTL lab in Salt Lake City. After an isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) test, the results came back clean of banned substances. The UFC footed the bill of $469 for the advanced screening process.

Casey and the UFC got those results back last week, but the TDLR did not make its decision to reverse the sanctions until Friday.

“After reexamination of the documents in our possession and careful examination of the Sample B results, your 90-day suspension is lifted effective June 29, 2017, the enforcement case dropped with no further action taken, and the bout ‘win’ reinstated on your record,” said the document sent to Casey by TDLR executive director Brian Francis.

In the letter, Francis apologized for the delay in his decision, but he wrote he “wanted to have all the informational available” for consideration.

Novitzky told MMA Fighting last week that he thought it was “sickening” how Casey was treated by the TDLR. He said an elevated T:E ratio does not constitute a failure and sanctioning her and releasing that information was a mortal sin in the world of anti-doping.

Francis wrote in the letter that the TDLR “followed Department protocol” in issuing her the sanctions after the test results showed an elevated T:E ratio.

On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Casey told Ariel Helwani that she had been harassed while shopping about being a “cheater” and her daughter was asked about the situation by a friend. Casey said people even contacted her parents about it.

“You know how it is in the media,” Casey told MMA Fighting. “One to two days and it's forgot about. I’m already a cheater. I’ve already, in their eyes, tested positive for steroids. I didn’t test positive for anything.

Casey was hoping for an apology from the TDLR, but might have to settle with her sanctions being lifted and that big win over Aguilar remaining intact.

“This was my breakthrough performance in the eyes of most people,” Casey said. “She was a highly ranked fighter and this is a huge positive in my career and it’s just been tarnished by someone's stupidity on the situation. And just a lack of professionalism at the end of the day with how things were handled.”

A spokesperson for the TDLR did not immediately return a message from MMA Fighting on Friday.

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