JDS: We need USADA, but they need to evolve

Monday, July 02, 2018

On August 18, former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos was pulled from a fight vs. Francis Ngannou at UFC 215, due to a potential doping violation. The flagged test was due to a contaminated supplement, manufactured by the same Brazilian compounding pharmacy that caused Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Marcos Rogerio de Lima to also have tests flagged.

JDS took a six-month suspension, allowing him to fight immediately, as the time to took to investigate was longer than six months. However, Dos Santos had to pay for an attorney. He needed to test a number of the 20 or so supplements he was taking, at $500 to $1,000 each, at his own cost. He lost a television commentary gig on Brazilian television. He lost out on income - his previous fight he earned $800,000 in a loss to division champion Stipe Miocic, while a 2015 fight saw him make $400,000 in a loss.

Now he fights former WSOF champion Blagoy Ivanov at UFC Fight Night 133: dos Santos vs. Ivanov on July 14, 2018, at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho. It will have been 14 months and a day since his last fight. The cost in time and money was substantial and left JDS with doubts about USADA's execution of a noble goal.

"I spent nine months out and it was horrible," said JDS to Guilherme Cruz for MMA Fighting.  “The problem is that you’re found guilty before anything else. You’re found guilty until proven innocent. That only happens with USADA.”

"In my mind, they would quickly see that I had no fault and would clear me to fight again pretty quickly, especially because of how much of the diuretic they found, not even a performance-enhancing drug, and it being hydrochlorothiazide, a cheap and inefficient diuretic. If I wanted to hide something, I would have taken something way worse."

"I actually tried to stop using supplements, but ... it’s impossible. ... If you say an athlete doesn’t need supplementation, that he can get everything through food, you’re wrong. I don’t know about other sports, but our sport is extremely hard, it’s extremely tough. You can’t train twice a day, tough training sessions that are devastating for your body. … Especially for a guy like me, a heavyweight, because it takes longer for your body to recover. ... You can’t just not use supplements."

"I don’t use the ones I used before, those brands, but USADA has a list of supplements they recommend. But they only recommend — if you fail a test, it’s your fault. But I have good doctors, Dr. Maria Amelia and Dr. Marcelo Guedes, and they help me everything I need to make sure everything is right. I’ve been doing everything I can, as always, but, like USADA says, it’s not guaranteed."

"I think there’s room for improvement with USADA. No one understands anti-doping better than them, so they should improve [their policies] and not take the athlete out of a fight. Fighters don’t have a match every week, like in soccer, for example. We don’t. We won’t fight for another three or four months. I think that USADA should try to prove someone’s guilt before pulling him out of a fight. If you’re caught with steroids or whatever, that’s your problem. If it’s clearly not cross contamination or something like that, if you’re caught with a huge amount of steroids in your body, OK, take him out of the fight because it’s kind of clear that he has a degree of fault. Now, if somehow it looks like contamination, they shouldn’t remove you from a fight. They should let you fight and investigate. If a fighter is proven guilty, give him a worse penalty, a fine, revert the result in case of a win."

"It’s necessary to have them around in the sport, because we need to know who’s a champion for real. What’s the point of having a bunch of guys fighting with a bunch of crap in their bodies and with performances that are unreal? I think it’s necessary to have a doping control, but USADA could improve its system."