Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos was removed from a UFC 215 bout against Francis Ngannou due to a potential USADA violation. But his team denies the fighter took any banned substance.
The UFC announced Friday that the Brazilian was removed from the Sept. 9 card in Edmonton, Canada. Shortly thereafter, manager Ana Guedes released a statement to MMA Fighting on the situation.
"We are still trying to understand the test results, so that we can investigate and determine what happened,” the statement read. "What we know as of now is that Junior dos Santos has never taken PEDs, has never knowingly used any banned substances, and has always supported USADA's policies and efforts to keep the sport clean.
"If ever there was a fighter who made his position on this issue unequivocal, it's Junior. We are confident that that we will be able to figure out what happened, and will provide an explanation once we have one.”
A second statement has been provided by Guedes, with dos Santos’ team having determined that his test failure was due to a diuretic and not a performance-enhancing drug.
“Junior tested positive for a substance called Hydrochlorothiazite, which is a diuretic and is banned by USADA due to its use as a masking agent,” the second statement read. “We do not know where this substance came from. Junior has had his blood and urine randomly tested many times and has never once tested positive for a banned substance.
“We requested testing of his B sample today. Most times, the B sample will show the identical results as the A sample. Therefore, we are already working on analyzing his nutritional supplements and medications, to determine whether anything might have been contaminated. Jeff Novitzky and Donna Marcolini of the UFC have provided the guidance for this process, and we are grateful to them for their professionalism and competence.
“Junior remains committed to and supportive of USADA drug testing - even if he is bearing an unfortunate consequence of it. He spoke personally with Francis Ngannou, and apologized for the unintended consequence to him. Junior thanks Francis for the sympathy, understanding, and respect that transpired during their call, and very much looks forward to resolving this situation so that he and Francis can set up a new date to face one another.”
The UFC has yet to announce a new opponent for Ngannou.
“Cigano" (18-5) has fought 16 times under the UFC banner since signing with the promotion in 2008, winning the heavyweight championship in 2011 and successfully defending it once. According to the USADA website, dos Santos was tested eight times already in 2017, more than the entire year of 2016 (seven).