Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos received a suspension for testing positive for the banned substance hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic when USADA collect a sample on Aug. 18. He was forced to removed from his UFC 215 bout against Francis Ngannou last September.
Last month, USADA came to a conclusion after lengthy adjudication process and deemed that dos Santos and two other Brazilian athletes took tainted supplements that led to the failed tests. USADA reduced the suspensions of all three fighters, which make them eligible to return to Octagon again immediately.
Dos Santos is headlining UFC Fight Night Boise against former World Series of Fighting champion Blagoy Ivanov on July 14. Santos expresses his frustration that he was not happy with how USADA handled his case. He noted that once an athlete has failed a test, the organization sees them as guilty until proven innocent, during his interview with MMA fighting:
“They stopped my whole career to investigate the thing,” dos Santos said. “I think that goes in the completely opposite direction of the law. I’m innocent until proven guilty. In this case, it’s different — you’re guilty until you’re proven innocent. So, yeah. This is not good, man. Especially in my case, that I knew I didn’t do anything wrong and I was going all through this situation. It was a very bad feeling.
“I feel the truth was found and everybody knows that was a tainted supplement,” dos Santos said. “It wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t my intention. There’s always negative people, that they keep saying bad things about you. They hold on the negative things. But I feel like I got my reputation back. It’s very, very important to me.”
Moreover, Santos said USADA needs to make some changes to prevent clean fighters from having to go through with such lengthy investigations.
“Based on those numbers, on those things, in my mind USADA would be the organization that know that I’m not a cheater,” dos Santos said. “But it wasn’t like that. I still went through this whole investigation, this whole scenario and they were putting me as a cheater. It was very bad, man. Now, I hope they can keep a clean sport however they can do that. But they have better rules, better ways to treat the athletes. Because it’s our lives. I hope the system gets better.”
“I know this sport, these drugs, these performance-enhancing drugs are a big problem for all the athletes. Because everybody knows most of the athletes, in general, in other sports, too, sometimes they take PEDs. I want to see a clean sport, because we want to know who is the real champion. We don’t want to see a fake champion over there.”
Despite the lengthy process and the uncertainty that surrounded him once the looming suspension was announced, Santos still believes he’s rectified his reputation and happy his ‘nightmare’ with USADA is over.
“This last year was a nightmare for me, because man, I never imagine I could go through something like that in my career,” dos Santos said. “I’ve been playing the fair game my entire career. I became the champion of the world like that and my goal is to become champion of the world again this way. This thing that happened with me and USADA, that was very sad for me.”
“Cigano” lost a title bout against UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 211 last year and he has a plan to get another shot at the belt he held in 2011 and 2012.