MMA Fighting confirmed with Nevada State Athletic Commission chief assistant Jeff Mullen that Franca and Laurentino tested positive for stanozolol, a banned steroid, and that Nijem tested positive for marijuana. The news was first reported by ESPN, citing Mullen.
Franca and Laurentino spoke to MMA Fighting’s Guilherme Cruz to confirm the tests and both are claiming that the results are due to tainted supplements.
See Franca’s statement below:
“I was caught by surprise because I’m a 100 percent clean athlete so you don’t expect to fail a drug test. That happened on Oct. 11, but I’m cool about it. I will prove that this stanozolol metabolite that showed up in my urine test came from a contaminated supplement.
“I know it’s my responsibility to check the supplements I’m using, but it’s also the responsibility of the supplement companies to include every substance on the label of the product. We already have an idea of which supplements we think may have caused this and we will prove they are contaminated.”
All three fighters competed in the 2019 PFL postseason, with Laurentino and Nijem bowing out in the quarter-finals on Oct. 17. Franca advanced to the semi-finals on Oct. 11 with a win over Andre Fialho before losing to David Michaud later that evening. His win over Fialho is at risk of being overturned.
Following his fight with Fialho, Franca announced that he was retiring, though he said later that he is leaving the door open for a return to competition.
The fighters will have a full disciplinary hearing on Dec. 18 after their temporary suspensions were extended at a meeting of the NSAC on Wednesday in Las Vegas. Possible penalties could include fines and more substantial suspensions.
As none of the fighters advanced beyond the semifinals, the PFL Finals on Dec. 31 in New York City is unaffected by these sanctions.