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USADA says ‘technical issue’ caused online Brock Lesnar drug-test number discrepancy

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Regarding the case of the mysteriously disappearing Brock Lesnar drug test, USADA says it’s much ado about nothing.

Social media reports surfaced over the last few days about a discrepancy in the number of drug tests USADA was reporting for Lesnar in its public, online database. Late last week, Lesnar’s drug-test number oddly went from six to five, which was noted by several followers of USADA data.

In a statement sent to MMA Fighting on Tuesday, USADA spokesperson Adam Woullard chalked it up to a “technical error.”

“USADA updates the Athlete Test History page of the UFC/USADA website on a weekly basis,” the statement read. “During an update on the week of October 15th, we experienced a technical issue that resulted in the information on the page being displayed incorrectly. The correct test history for the athlete is 1 test, not 2. The issue has been fixed and the testing numbers on the website are all accurate. We are still investigating the specific technical issue that led to the error.”

In other words, Lesnar’s 2018 drug-test count went from four to six on the week of Oct. 15, when it should have went from four to five. The current Lesnar drug-test count remains at five as of the Dec. 5 weekly tally.

Twitter user @dimspace noted that, in his research, no other fighter drug-test count has experienced a similar error.

UFC vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky told ESPN that the information given to him by the anti-doping agency was always correct — he gets more thorough data — and he believes USADA’s explanation to be true.

”I have access to a more specific database than the public, which displays the date a sample is collected, what type of sample it is and what the results are as soon as they are available,” Novitzky said. “The public website, as I understand it, indicated there had been two tests during this last quarter, and it recently dropped to one. I have always seen one test in this quarter for Lesnar. It was a urine test and it came back negative.”

He added that he has “all the confidence in the world” that USADA is allocating the proper testing resources for Lesnar.

The error happening with Lesnar’s drug-test total is notable because of his controversial history with USADA, the UFC and anti-doping. Before Lesnar’s UFC comeback in 2016, the promotion waived a rule that stated returning fighters must be in the USADA drug-testing pool for four months.

At the time, the UFC stated that they began testing Lesnar as soon as he officially signed a deal (about a month out of the fight), though Lesnar himself said in interviews that discussions about a return had been ongoing for months. The UFC, which had the written right to grant him an exemption from that four-month period based on its policy, also said that Lesnar had not been subject to the USADA program previously when he retired in 2011 and the fourth-month provision was not meant for someone like him coming back. It was meant more for someone trying to leave and then enter the program again in order to avoid testing for a period of time, the UFC said.

Lesnar fought and beat Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in July 2016. A week after the fight, the UFC announced that Lesnar had failed a drug test for the prohibited substance clomiphene, stemming from a sample collected from the WWE star 11 days before the fight. The UFC and USADA took heat for not being able to get that drug test back quicker, before UFC 200. And Hunt is currently suing the UFC on a number of claims having to do with that situation.

Lesnar’s victory was overturned by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) to a no contest. He was suspended one year by the NAC and USADA. The latter suspension was frozen when Lesnar formally retired and left the drug-testing pool later in 2016.

On July 3 of this year, Lesnar re-entered the pool. He is eligible to return to UFC competition on Jan. 8, 2019. Lesnar has been tied to a potential UFC heavyweight title fight with champion Daniel Cormier, though no bout has been officially scheduled.