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NAC continues Daniel Pineda’s case, suspends Alex Nicholson four years for multiple steroids

MMA: Bellator 182-Karakhanyan vs Pineda Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

The Nevada Athletic Commission tabled Daniel Pineda’s anti-doping case to January, ruling him out of the Season 2 finals of the PFL’s 2019 featherweight tournament.

A PFL source, who declined to be named because an official announcement hadn’t been made, told MMA Fighting tournament alternate Alex Gilpin, the highest seeded competitor in the post-fight season, will step in for Pineda to rematch Season 1 champ Lance Palmer, who defeated him in the Season 2 semifinals.

During a meeting today in Las Vegas, the commission voted unanimously to extend Pineda’s temporary suspension issued after he failed a drug test following his appearance at PFL 8, where qualified for the Season 2 finals with a pair of wins in bouts against Movlid Khaibulaev and Jeremy Kennedy.

Pineda, 34, is expected to appear for a full hearing during the NAC’s January meeting. His temporary suspension is noted in the Association of Boxing Commissions administrative database and will be honored by the New York State Athletic Commission, which regulates the end-of-year PFL event in New York City on Dec. 31.

Per an NAC rep, Pineda’s drug test came back for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio; the level is not known. Additional testing confirmed the source of the elevated level arose from testosterone that wasn’t produced by Pineda’s body.

Pineda has claimed on Twitter that no steroids or drugs were found in his system; his longtime rep Jason House said his team is working with the commission to find the source of the positive.

Pineda rep Lance Spaude pushed to have a hearing, but later agreed to table the matter so a settlement agreement could be reached with the commission. The commission then voted to table the matter.

PFL spokesperson Greg Savage said the promotion will meet today on Pineda’s case and didn’t comment further. Pineda was not immediately available for comment, per Spaude.

Pineda, a UFC and Bellator veteran, entered the PFL Season 2 tournament as a dark horse and stood to win $1 million with a win over Lance Palmer, who entered a second tournament final with a pair of wins. Earlier this month, the PFL tapped Palmer’s semifinal opponent, Alex Gilpin, as a tournament alternate should Pineda be ruled out of the finals.

In other PFL news, the NAC threw the book at Alex Nicholson after the heavyweight reportedly tested positive for a trio of illegal steroids, voting by a 4-1 margin to hand down a four-year suspension and $15,000 fine, which represents 60 percent of his $25,000 purse.

Per the commission, Nicholson, 29, tested positive for drostanolone, nandrolone and trenbolone – all well-known anabolic steroids – in addition to having an elevated T/E ratio. The commission’s attorney said Nicholson received the commission’s complaint but didn’t signal his intention to defend himself in a hearing.

The commission found that Nicholson’s case warranted an enhanced punishment because of the multiple banned substances in his system and his lack of response to the charges. First-time steroid offenders are subject to a range of 9-24 months for a suspension, but those can be doubled with aggravating factors.

NAC Executive Director Bob Bennett cited the possibility of Nicholson killing someone in competition.

”There’s no precedent for this,” he said.

In a statement to MMA Fighting following his positive test, Nicholson denied using performance-enhancers.

“Never have or would I take a banned substance, and after years and competing and being tested, why would it even make sense for me to show up knowing how everything goes down after years of commitment and get everything taken from me?” he wrote. “Just doesn’t make sense either way you look at it.”

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