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UFC relents, allows Cung Le to appeal controversial HGH drug test result

Anthony Kwan

Well, this is awkward.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) thought it had an open and shut case when it suspended Cung Le for human growth hormone (HGH) in the wake of his technical knockout loss to Michael Bisping at the UFC Fight Night 48 mixed martial arts (MMA) event last August in Macau, China.

Maybe not.

While the promotion was trying to do the right thing -- after getting called on the carpet for insufficient drug testing -- its execution of said testing may have been done haphazardly in the absence of a local athletic commission, as the apparent smoking gun behind Le's test result has failed to hold up under scrutiny.

MMA Fighting explains:

"The testing procedure is more than just the actual testing," says Gary Ibarra, Le's manager who, chief among his complaints, cites that the testing facility employed by the UFC in this instance -- the Hong Kong Functional Medical Testing Center -- is not a lab approved and operated under the standards of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which remains a crucial point in the realm of HGH testing, as only WADA-accredited labs have the capabilities to accurately test for the drug.

Ibarra reasons that the Hong Kong Functional Medical Testing Center did not have the means to administer an accurate drug test for HGH, and confirmed that the UFC informed him that the lab did not conduct an IGF-1 test -- the only test trusted by Catlin. Requests to corroborate test Le's failure by administering an IGF-1 test and/or testing a B sample were futile, as the lab destroyed Le's samples less than two months after his fight.

To compound matters, Ibarra claims that the UFC drew a blood sample from Le just minutes after the conclusion of his fight with Bisping.

"I found, just in my preliminary research, four studies done, one was by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the American Journal of Sports Medicine, as well as some other highly accredited studies, peer-tested studies done by doctors, saying that HGH levels tested post-exertion show up to a 500x increase naturally," Ibarra says.

Reminds me of the local grease money who would always fail my car for emissions, only to later find out he didn't have the right equipment.

To compound matters, Le was already found guilty by the court of public opinion -- even before the actual drug test -- based on photos he released of his 42-year-old body looking stacked and jacked, which he attributed to good genes and even better lighting.

So even if he's cleared of wrongdoing, the damage to his reputation may be irrevocable.

"People are going on my son's Instagram and telling him I'm a cheater," Le told FOX Sports. "I don't think the UFC understands what they've done." In addition, Dr. Don Catlin -- one of the foremost experts on performance-enhancing drug testing in sports -- told Bloody Elbow the test results should be flat-out "ignored."

What a mess.

Le's upcoming appeal will be overseen by an independent, third-party arbitrator.

Stay tuned.

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