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The Scarlet Letter: Brock Lesnar, USADA and Retirement


By: Jesse Donathan

Did Brock Lesnar retire from mixed martial arts because he failed another USADA prohibited drug test? “If you were a level of conspiracy theorist, or as we do over here, we just simply speculate, and visit, and talk, there is some clues to point to that is a possibility, said Bad Guy Inc. CEO Chael Sonnen in his May 9, 2019 YouTube video titled, “Did Brock Lesnar fail a USADA drug test and retire?” An ESPN analyst and current Bellator fighter, Sonnen is a former UFC middleweight challenger who counts UFC President Dana White among his friends. In other words, Sonnen is an industry insider and someone you should listen to when he has something to say.

Sonnen, who once famously thrashed Anderson Silva in the Brazilians’ prime before succumbing to a come from behind triangle armbar submission in the fifth and final round went on to list a litany of reasons of why its possible that rumors of a Lesnar failed USADA drug test could possibly be true:

“The first of which is Brock Lesnar retired out of nowhere, he retired out of nowhere after taking a lesser WWE schedule, he retired out of nowhere after going into training for 12 full months. He retired out of nowhere after entering and clearing the USADA protocol of things that he had to pay for from his last outing at UFC 200 against Mark Hunt.”

As Sonnen correctly surmises, Lesnar’s abrupt retirement from MMA came out of left field. Everything was pointing to a Lesnar return to the cage; he had been training with Gable Stevenson, one of the top collegiate wrestlers in the country at the University of Minnesota and had shoved the UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier across the octagon at UFC 226 in a picture-perfect promo in the lead up to the fight. “It looked like all; everything was a go. He had a world title fight, he had a main event, he had a huge pay day, he had Daniel Cormier standing in front of him,” Sonnen exclaimed, and out of nowhere, Lesnar retires.

“Guys, I don’t want to add to something right now, I want to come to you candidly and tell you that I do not have information but I am starting to hear things from people who generally do have the correct information that perhaps that wasn’t totally wrong,” Sonnen said on the rumors of a Lesnar issue with USADA that went ignored by the MMA media when the information first started trickling out.

“The new way that USADA is operating, okay, I’ll remind you of the old way first. Which was a guy flags, boom! They put out a boilerplate statement, the only thing they change between athletes is simply the name. John Doe right, fill in the blank, and the whole rest of the uniform statement. We get it. But when USADA got confronted with five people who were later cleared and the USADA was able to look at it and go you know what, we didn’t total clear out, we cleared them, but in the world of PR and the mess they went through, in the minds eye, the day of the internet, the sponsors that were already lost, its just very hard to unfry that egg.”

The Bellator light heavyweight contender who lost to “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko in a valiant effort during the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix Tournament last year at Bellator 208 went on to say of USADA’s new approach to handling athletes who may have flagged a prohibited substances test:

So, what we’re gonna do now is if we flag somebody, we are not going to say a word. They will very quietly not be booked for a contest but we will also very privately see the process through to the very end. And when we make our release, we will not only tell you who, what and when but we will also tell you what the remedy was. Whether it’s a disciplinary action or a clearing of the athlete. But we will present one statement to you in its entirety. Okay great, really good way to do things. There is now some people that are saying that they have dug into this and it’s the very spot Brock Lesnar is in.”

Prior to Sonnen’s fire side chat, Dave Metzler on Wrestling Observer Radio had suggested that the new UFC deal with ESPN had been a factor in Lesnar’s retirement, according to Sonnen that just isn’t the case.

“It is a very strange circumstance, and it seems that there was then a later dialogue that came in and said no, the reason Brock walked away is because the pay-per-view model has changed, and therefor he can’t collect his pay-per-view points and therefor he lost his enticement to do this. Now, that is, I can tell you now that is not what happened. I don’t know what happened, but I think it’s probably a pretty straight forward. One, either, we’re going to find something out in the next 45 days or two, and far more likely if I am being fair, far more likely, he started training and his body was just sore and tired and he wasn’t getting the same reaction as fast as he had in the past and he said I’m done.”

As reported by Foxsports.com in their January 4, 2017 article titled, “Brock Lesnar suspended one year by USADA after failing two drug tests,” the WWE superstar infamously, “tested positive for clomiphene and its metabolite, 4-hydroxyclomiphene, following an out-of-competition urine test conducted on June 28, 2016, and an in-competition urine test conducted on July 9, 2016, at UFC 200 in Las Vegas, Nev. Clomiphene is a prohibited substance in the category of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.”

According to USADA.org, “In men, clomiphene can alter testosterone levels by interfering with the negative feedback loop of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis.” Interestingly, the USADA description of clomiphene goes on to state that, “clomiphene is not FDA-approved for use by men for any condition,” but there are some exceptions to that claim as USADA goes on to state.

“However, it may be prescribed off-label, meaning that a doctor may prescribe a medication for a use that is not indicated on the FDA’s approved packaging insert or label. Once the FDA approves a drug, healthcare providers can typically prescribe the drug for an unapproved use when they judge that it is medically appropriate for their patient.”

The USADA clomiphene description goes on to state that, “In males, similar to other substances with anabolic properties that lead to increased muscle mass, clomiphene is associated with a number of potential and serious side effects, including: increased risk of negative cardiovascular events, liver damage, and gastrointestinal discomfort.”

In an April 24, 2012 bleacherreport.com article titled, “Brock Lesnar: Understanding Diverticulitis, the Illness That Changed His Life,” author Louie Babcock wrote that, “In November of 2009, Brock was diagnosed with mononucleosis, and later in the month it was discovered he had a serious case of diverticulitis.” According to Babcock, “Diverticulitis is a disease of the digestive tract, normally in the large intestine. On the colon of the patient, tiny pouches form. These pouches are called diverticula. When these pouches become inflamed, diverticulitis is diagnosed.” The bleacherreport.com article would go on to note that Lesnar suffered another bout of diverticulitis in May of 2011, retiring after his last match in December of 2011 against Alistair Overeem before coming out of retirement to face Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in 2016.

According to dopinglinkki.fi, “Clomiphene is a doping substance according to the Penal Code. Particularly men, who use anabolic steroids, commonly use clomiphene or other anti-estrogens (for example, tamoxifen) as an accompanying drug.”

Dopinglinkki.fi would go on to state that, “The purpose of clomiphene, in this case, is to inhibit the estrogen problems caused by the overdosed anabolic steroids, that appear when anabolic steroids convert in the body to estrogens or other metabolic products that have estrogenic effects.”

With Lesnar’s history of at least two bouts of diverticulitis in 2009 and 2011, one would think that Lesnar would have been weary of using Clomiphene, a drug described as causing “gastrointestinal discomfort” as one of its potential side effects. Which immediately brings me to one of the oldest questions plaguing mankind. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? The answer to that question could very well let many cats out of the bag.

According to thesmokinggun.com, “Brock Lesnar, the World Wrestling Entertainment champion, was once arrested for illegally possessing steroids, though the felony charge against the 26-year-old athlete was dismissed four months after his January 2001 arrest.” The report would go on to state:

“Lesnar was exonerated when tests showed that the seized pills were not, in fact, steroids. While a Louisville detective told TSG that the material was some kind of growth hormone, Lesnar’s defense attorney, Scott Cox, characterized the confiscated pills as a ‘vitamin type of thing.’”

Regardless of the true circumstances of Lesnar’s retirement(s), health problems and reported prohibited drug use, there is no question that Brock Lesnar is a huge draw for both the WWE and UFC. Former K-1 kickboxing champion Mark Hunt once famously sued UFC President Dana White, Lesnar and the UFC, accusing them of collusion, “in an effort to allow Lesnar to use performance enhancing drugs,” according to a February 15, 2019 ESPN.com article titled, “Judge dismisses most of Mark Hunts case Against UFC, Brock Lesnar,” by Brett Okamoto.

According to ESPN, “U.S. District Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey threw out all but one of the claims Hunt made against the UFC,” with the Judge ordering, “Hunt and the UFC to enter a mandatory settlement conference on the final outstanding claim — breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. That claim is against the UFC only. All of Hunt’s claims against White and Lesnar were dismissed.” Putting the pieces together, the extent of the breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing could potentially stretch back some time in this case with the reader being left to make up their own minds as to what the actual truth may be.

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ESPN Deal with UFC Reportedly a Factor in Failed Brock Lesnar Negotiations


By: Jesse Donathan

It’s all about the Benjamin’s, baby! In more tantalizing Brock Lesnar news, in a May 2, 2019 wrestlinginc.com article titled, “What Happened with Brock Lesnar’s UFC Return Negotiations, Possible WWE Match for Lesnar,” author Marc Middleton revealed the inside scope on what really derailed the Lesnar versus Cormier fight. And not surprisingly, it all boils down to how much money the UFC was willing to pay Brock Lesnar. According to Middleton, “Dave Meltzer noted on Wrestling Observer Radio that Lesnar had been negotiating with UFC for the summer 2019 fight with UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier, and a deal could not be reached.”

Middleton would go on to note that, “Lesnar reportedly wanted a flat fee from UFC for the Cormier fight, instead of a percentage of pay-per-view buys, but UFC felt like he was asking for too much. According to wrestlinginc.com, “Meltzer noted that UFC is no longer under pressure to draw strong pay-per-view buys because they are getting about the same money through their deal with ESPN.”

As many will recall, Golden Boy CEO Oscar de la Hoya famously said pay-per-view was dead, pointing to their deal with the streaming service DAZN as the wave of the future. Following in Golden Boys footsteps, the UFC & ESPN+ signed a new deal through 2025 marking the UFC’s own entry into the streaming service universe. A move, much like the UFC’s deal with Reebok, that has reverberated throughout the sports entertainment industry.

The very real possibility exists that UFC President Dana White’s recent announcement of Lesnar’s retirement is all part of the ongoing contract negotiations. It should be noted that the news is coming from the UFC president, not the Lesnar camp itself. Purely speculative, the public’s reaction, or lack thereof to Lesnar’s retirement, could possibly be used as leverage in future contract negotiations. And according to Middleton:

“There’s no word yet on if Lesnar has pulled out of the USADA testing but if he has, he could come back and would have to wait another 6 months before being eligible for a fight. If he does pull out, that’s a good sign that he has really decided not to fight. Meltzer noted that if he doesn’t pull out, this all could be a public negotiation by White in an attempt to get Lesnar to lower his price.”

If Meltzer is correct, then it looks like Brock Lesnar really is done. As reported by mensjournal.com, author Tom Briechle wrote in his article earlier this week titled, “Brock Lesnar Retires from MMA for the Second Time in 6 Years,” that Lesnar has in fact been removed from the USADA testing pool. According to Briechle, “Brock Lesnar is officially done with the UFC — at least for the time being.” Mensjournal.com goes on to write:

“Additionally, the US Anti-Doping Agency has reported that Lesnar has been removed from their testing pool.”

So where does that leave us? Brock has reportedly asked for too much money and has left the negotiation table. According to Dana White, he has retired. And the UFC has decided with their most recent deal with ESPN, they’re in a better position bargaining wise to the point where they don’t really need Brock Lesnar’s services bad enough to give in to his salary requirements just yet.

At least, that appears to be the position the UFC took in denying Lesnar’s initial demands according to published reports. If Meltzer and wrestlinginc.com are correct, Lesnar ultimately walked away from the sport and retired due to the UFC being in such a rewarding financial relationship with ESPN that that they choose not to come to an agreement with the WWE superstar.

Though with WME-IMG reportedly working on a four-billion-dollar investment into the worlds premiere mixed martial arts organization, I cannot help but think the UFC isn’t in as an advantageous position as they would like everyone to believe and its business as usual despite the new ESPN+ deal. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Brock Lesnar fighting in in the octagon is big business for everyone involved.

Still, despite the abundance of evidence to suggest Lesnar is done with MMA, there is reason to believe we shouldn’t count him or the UFC out just yet. While its hard to argue with Metzler’s conclusions, the fact is we’ve seen a very similar situation happen before. In a January 11, 2018 independent.co.uk article titled, “UFC, Brock Lesnar and president Dana White being sued by Mark Hunt over Lesnar’s UFC 200 failed drugs test,” author Max Clark writes that:

“According to Hunt, the UFC deliberately hid all knowledge that Lesnar had tested positive. He says Lesnar and the UFC had four months to put him through USADA testing but elected to do it one week before fight night, not providing enough time for the results to come through.”

All but one of Hunts charges were ultimately dismissed in court, with the UFC being found liable for the “breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” according to a February 15, 2019 ESPN.com article by Brett Okamoto titled, “Judge dismisses most of Mark Hunts case against UFC, Brock Lesnar.” What that effectively means is that Brock Lesnar has circumvented the system before, skipping over the usual USADA testing required for other athletes and has jumped straight into big time fights, ready to play ball with the best in the business. And small things, like going through the usual required USADA testing periods, only applies to the second-class serfs.

So, Brock Lesnar is done until he isn’t done, the possibility exists that he can come back at the most opportune possible and into big money fights. Whether it’s a last second substitution for a high-profile fight, an interim-title fight or even vying for the undisputed belt, I won’t be surprised in the least bit to see Lesnar back in the octagon competing once again. But for the time being, it looks like Lesnar has retired from mixed martial arts for good. At least until a financial agreement can be reached and Lesnar can be inserted into the most favorable position possible for all parties involved.

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Déjà vu – Brock Lesnar Retires from Mixed Marital Arts (Again)


By: Jesse Donathan

Déjà vu is the sense that we’ve been here before, and indeed, there is a haunting familiarity in the air. Recently it was announced that World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) juggernaut Brock Lesnar has retired from mixed martial arts. We’ve heard this song and dance before, so call me skeptical when I say that I won’t be surprised to see Brock Lesnar back in the cage again. “Brock Lesnar is officially done with the UFC—at least for the time being,” writes Tim Briechle of mensjournal.com in his article titled, “Brock Lesnar retires from MMA for the Second Time in Six Years.” According to Briechle:

“Additionally, the US Anti-Doping Agency has reported that Lesnar has been removed from their testing pool. UFC requires all of their fighters to undergo USADA-run tests, and Lesnar infamously failed two tests prior to his fight against (Mark) Hunt due to testing positive for the banned substance clomiphene.”

Clomiphene is an anti-estrogen pharmaceutical often times used in conjunction with anabolic steroid use. According to dopinglinkki.fi, “Clomiphene is a doping substance according to the penal code. Particularly men, who use anabolic steroids, commonly use clomiphene or other anti-estrogens (for example, tamoxifen) as an accompanying drug.” The document goes on to state:

“The purpose of clomiphene, in this case, is to inhibit the estrogen problems caused by the overdosed anabolic steroids, that appear when anabolic steroids convert in the body to estrogens or other metabolic products that have estrogenic effects.”

With Lesnar out of the testing pool, one would naturally assume that in order to fight again he would have to undergo lengthy and rigorous testing in order to enter the cage again. And indeed, for any other fighter this might be the case. However, we’ve seen this exact scenario play out before. So, while Lesnar may in fact be retired for good, history has shown us that where there is a will, there is a way. And that there are many ways to skin a cat.

In a January 11, 2019 independent.co.uk article titled, “UFC, Brock Lesnar and president Dana White being sued by Mark Hunt over Lesnar’s UFC 200 failed drugs test,” author Marx Clark writes that, “Hunt has accused the promotion of racketeering and fraud, and is seeking compensation for having to fight against Lesnar despite the UFC allegedly knowing he tested positive for banned substances.” The Independent would go on to write that:

“According to Hunt, the UFC deliberately hid all knowledge that Lesnar had tested positive. He says Lesnar and the UFC had four months to put him through USADA testing but elected to do it one week before fight night, not providing enough time for the results to come through.”

All but one of Hunt’s claims against the UFC were ultimately thrown out of court according to a February 15, 2019 ESPN.com article titled, “Judge dismisses most of Mark Hunt’s case against UFC, Brock Lesnar,” by ESPN reporter Brett Okamoto. According to Okamoto, “Judge (Jennifer) Dorsey ordered Hunt and the UFC to enter a mandatory settlement conference on the final outstanding claim — breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. That claim is against the UFC only.”

So, while there was a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, everything else Mark Hunt alleged was deemed without legal merit. If the UFC isn’t dealing fairly and acting in good faith, what this essentially means is that the exact circumstances that played out in the Mark Hunt versus Brock Lesnar fight could happen again. Thus, why I believe its entirely possible we see Brock Lesnar back in the cage once again, probably ready to hulk smash anyone that gets in his way while he’s at it too.

Lesnar last competed in the UFC in July of 2016, putting the beat down on former K-1 kickboxing champion and perennial UFC knockout artist Mark Hunt in a fight many expected to see Lesnar go down in flames in. It was a convincing, dominate performance that opened a lot of people’s eyes to what Lesnar still brought to the table, a fighter who had been previously written off as all but finished after a bout with diverticulitis ultimately left his career in professional mixed martial arts very much in doubt. The unanimous decision victory was later overturned to a no contest after Lesnar’s positive tests results were made public.

Unknown to most, Brock Lesnar brings legitimate grappling credentials to the sport of MMA. A former University of Minnesota NCAA national wrestling champion, Lesnar is much more than just the hulking professional wrestler you see on television. A former UFC heavyweight champion, Lesnar has fought a murderer’s row of fighters during his UFC tenure, capturing the UFC title against mixed martial arts legend Randy Couture at UFC 91 in 2008 in only his third fight with the promotion. A former member of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings practice squad before being cut from the team in 2004, Lesnar brings size, athleticism and dominate wrestling to the table and is a handful for even the most elite fighters in the sport when he is on his A-game.

Generally speaking, when people say something you are forced to take them at their word. That is of course, unless you have reason to believe otherwise. In this case, this is the same old song and dance we’ve heard before. Brock Lesnar retires, everyone in the sport moves on before ultimately being thrown a wild card where Lesnar returns and makes a huge splash. I won’t be surprised to see Brock Lesnar back in the cage, looking jacked and ready to beat the living daylights out of whoever is holding the UFC title.

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“Everybody’s on Steroids” – The Concerning State of MMA


“Everybody’s on Steroids” – The Concerning State of MMA

By Jaime C. Feal

During the hype for his first fight against Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz said it best: “Everybody’s on steroids.” Diaz went on to stop McGregor at UFC 196, and then McGregor was pulled from a potential rematch at UFC 200 due to not fulfilling media obligations. That decision by Zuffa brass turned out to be a big error, as their replacement main event between Jon “Bones” Jones and Daniel Cormier fell through when Jones was pulled from the card due to a positive test for PEDs. Cormier went on to beat last minute replacement Anderson Silva in a fight that saw the crowd boo heavily due to a lack of action. Furthermore, the Cormier-Silva fight was demoted to co-main event and a woman’s title fight between Miesha Tata and Amanda Nunes ended up headlining UFC 200. And the return of WWE superstar and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, the fighter that drew the most viewers, ended up testing positive himself as was revealed by USADA the week after UFC 200. Because of an exemption Lesnar received as a late addition to the card his results did not come back in time to stop him from competing, and he will not be fined by USADA or the UFC for his positive test. Lesnar’s opponent Mark Hunt has publicly demanded he be compensated and has blasted the UFC for “throwing him under the bus.”

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To make matters worse, former Featherweight title contender Chad Mendes was popped for a positive test recently and suspended 2 years by USADA, just like Jones was suspended for 2 years. The fighters can appeal their suspensions and try to reduce them, but ultimately the UFC has an enormous problem on their hands with fighters using PEDs before competing against one another in the cage. The timing of the 4 billion dollar sale of the company amidst all the positive tests is also suspect. It could be said that Station Casino and Zuffa owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertita cashed out at the right time.

Not only are fighters getting suspended left and right, but other fighters who are theoretically clean are livid. Then you have superstar fighters like Georges St. Pierre who are prime for a comeback, but have expressed concerns about stepping in the cage against juiced competition. Finally, the fans can’t be happy to see their favorite fighter(s) and sport being tainted by steroids, masking agents, and PEDs. The crisis is similar to the steroid epidemic in the 90s in Major League Baseball where even the biggest superstars were using. Now that the UFC is under new ownership, the new owners and management have a chance to affect immediate change. The sport is inherently exciting, fast-paced, and action-packed. We don’t need to artificially increase the explosiveness of the sport as baseball did with the home run. When you have two athletes competing against each other in a combat sport fairness and safety are of the utmost concern. MMA as a sport has worked hard to become regulated and accepted, and a lot of that work can be undone if somebody is seriously hurt in the cage by an opponent who tests positive for PEDs. This epidemic needs to get cleaned up quickly in the interest of all parties. Let’s hope it does.

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Bob Arum Bashes UFC For Drug Tests, Dismisses MMA Fans As Trump Supporters


Bob Arum Bashes UFC For Drug Tests, Dismisses MMA Fans As Trump Supporters
By: Sean Crose

Who knew Bob Arum was such a picture of virtue? For decades now, the man has stood atop – or near the top – of what has been known as the red light district of sports…boxing. Yet it was another combat sport that Arum took the time to bash recently – the Ultimate Fighting Championship, better known as the UFC. Truth be told, the mixed martial arts league has been hit hard recently with news that numerous of its top fighters have tested positive for drug use. Needless to say, Arum had choice words regarding the matter of drug testing:

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“I don’t think,” he stated, “(it) is particularly necessary as far as fighters are concerned. Most fighters obey the rules. It’s probably more necessary in MMA because they appear to be unconcerned with the testing.” Ouch. Yet the man wasn’t done. Not by a long shot. “What the hell?” he asked rhetorically. “As long as the tests come out after the fight, right? Everybody’s collecting money. Just saying. just saying.” Just saying indeed.

Arum then moved on to addressing the recent sale of the UFC, for a reported four billion – that’s billion – dollars. “Good luck to them,” he stated. “And for some reason they can buy off lobbyists so they’re not subject to the Muhammad Ali Act like promoters are in boxing – just saying.” That’s right, one of the biggest players in boxing has accused the UFC of some seriously shady tactics. By the way, word is Arum is interested in doing business with Al Haymon, who some suggest has also broken the Muhammad Ali act. Yet Arum had even more things to say, going so far as to attack UFC fans – many of whom happen to be die hard boxing fans, as well.

“In boxing,” Arum said, “we have a lot of minorities, African-American, Hispanics, Jewish promoters, people like that.” Never mind the fact that the UFC has fighters such as Jon Jones, the Diaz brothers and others, the guy had a point to make. “And,” he said, speaking of those in the boxing game, “pretty much, we’re Democrats. MMA people they’re for Trump. You ever look at an MMA audience? Of course they’re for Trump.”

Bob Arum the uniter.

UFC honcho Dana White, who himself has a strong boxing background, obviously had some things to add to the conversation. “Arum is the biggest dirtbag in all of sports,” he claimed. “I look forward to sticking around and continuing to kick his ass in every aspect of our business.” With all that in mind, UFC fans await the rematch between Conor McGregor, who was recently interested in boxing Floyd Mayweather, and Nate Diaz, who has helped train Andre Ward as a sparring partner. Clearly those two men don’t seem to have a problem with boxing and MMA coexisting. Then again, they aren’t Bob Arum. McGregor and Diaz have mouths on them, to be sure, but neither can stir the pot quite the way Mr. Arum does.

Then again, few can.

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