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Carlos Felipe suspended 18 months for drug test failure following UFC loss to Andrei Arlovski, calls it ‘a huge surprise’

Carlos Felipe won't re-enter the UFC cage until April 2023.
Zuffa LLC

UFC heavyweight Carlos Felipe has received an 18-month suspension and 15 percent fine of his fight purse after failing a drug test on Oct. 16 in relation to his decision loss to Andrei Arlovski at UFC Vegas 40, the Nevada Athletic Commission announced Tuesday.

Felipe, 27, tested positive for the anabolic agent Boldenone and its metabolites. He was fined $4,200 of his purse and $489 in prosecution fees. His suspension is retroactive to the night of his failed test, meaning Felipe will be cleared to resume competing on April 16, 2023.

The Brazilian heavyweight’s manager Tiago Okamura told MMA Fighting that Felipe ultimately agreed to the sanction — though he maintains his innocence — because he didn’t have the funds to pay upwards of $10,000 for his defense fees and further testing.

Felipe was previously suspended by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for steroid use in 2017. Okamura said the heavyweight “knew he could never slip up again or the consequences would be dire.”

“With that in mind,” Okamura added, “the new positive result was a huge surprise.”

Felipe (11-2) was on a three-fight winning streak over Yorgan De Castro, Justin Tafa, and Jake Collier prior to his setback against Arlovski, which dropped his UFC record to 3-2.

The full statement from Okamura can be read below.

On October 16th, Carlos Felipe “Boi” was tested by the NAC during his fight night, and on November 19th, to our surprise, we got a notice that he had been temporarily suspended due to a positive test. As it’s common knowledge Carlos Felipe had his UFC debut delayed in two years by a positive test done by USADA right after signing his UFC contract, since then he has been very much aware of the dangers a new sanction could result in. If he was ever to test positive again in a USADA test, he would be penalized with a 4-year suspension. Once the suspension was complete and he was re-signed to the UFC, Carlos knew he could never slip up again or the consequences would be dire. So with that in mind, the new positive result was a huge surprise.

Carlos knew he had not made use of any illegal substances and we had just tested negative on two consecutive USADA tests just before this date (08/25 and 09/13), and later we had results of two negative tests by USADA after the fight (11/12 and 11/26). The NAC test came back with high levels of Boldenone (164 nanograms/ml) and its metabolites (230 nanograms/ml). After some research, we learned that Boldenone and its metabolites have a long half-life, so them not showing on the following tests by USADA was unusual. So we asked to have the second sample tested, and again to our surprise it came back positive.

With the help of Jeff Novitzky and Donna Marcolini of the UFC, we were able to contact some specialists and one of them mentioned that there was an oral substance called Boldione that converts into Boldenone once ingested, and that it has a much smaller half-life, which would explain the two follow-up tests done by USADA with no sign of Boldenone or its metabolites.

So we had a clearer timeline of when this ingestion could have happened and we moved on to looking into trying to test all supplements he was taking around that window and the cost to put up a defense around that.

After talks with lawyers, testing labs, and the Commission, we had a better understanding of what the defense would cost. And it was quite expensive. We had about 13 non-certified supplements and 5 medications he had taken or made use of in that one-month window, and just the testing would cost around 300 to 500 USD each. On top of the actual open supplement he had taken, we would have to find other samples of these supplements/medications from the same lot as his as counter-proof if we did find one that was contaminated. After the results of the tests, we would have to hire a lawyer to do this defense, and that was estimated at up to 10k USD. And unfortunately, the amount needed to put up a proper defense along with the testing of all products was not something realistic for Carlos.

The Commission could suspend Carlos for up to 24 months because of the previous positive test he had under USADA, on top of the fine and lawyer costs (the suspended fighter has to pay the commission’s lawyer costs).

Knowing that we couldn’t be sure if we would find the supplement that was contaminated and the costs attached to this defense, we spoke to the commission and were able to get a reduction on his fine and suspension if we made an agreement before the hearing.

All things considered, it was decided by Carlos and his team to take the 15-percent fine and 18-month suspension through the agreement and not go forward with the testing and the defense.

Shaun Al-Shatti contributed to this report.