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Mirko Cro Cop responds to UFC suspension, admits injecting growth hormone for injured shoulder

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Esther Lin

Longtime mixed martial arts (MMA) heavyweight veteran Mirko Filipovic, who rose to fame in PRIDE FC before transitioning to Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), was "desperate" to save his UFC Fight Night 79 bout against Anthony Hamilton.

Even if it meant taking substances banned by United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

But the former kickboxer insists he was not trying to cheat his opponent or game the system in any way, but rather looking to jump start his recovery on a nagging shoulder injury that put his trip to South Korea -- a place where he's quite popular -- in jeopardy.

From his official website:

When my shoulder problems started, basic methods like massages and icing the shoulder did not help. Then I went to blood plasma which went straight into my shoulder. With each blood plasma, I had a little mix of growth hormone to make my shoulder heal faster.

Growth hormones are on the list of banned substances. I knew that already. But there was no other way to save my shoulder -- at least in my mind -- without combining the blood plasma with growth hormones.

Unfortunately it turns out the only cure was a good break and rest. But a desperate man will try anything. After 6 days of growth hormone and plasma injections, the USADA came to test me. I gave them my blood sample and urine samples and immediately told the UFC about the test. I also said that I had been taking blood plasma and growth hormone since nothing else was working.

I wanted to have this fight, at any cost. I knew if I didn't have the fight after an 8 month layoff, it was the end for me. I could not afford to wait 5 or 6 more months to fight.

It did not make me any better or increase my performance like testosterone or anabolic steroids would, but those are the rules. On Friday I was still telling them to not cancel the fight and that I wanted to fight because of all the hard work I had done.

I told them I will go to the USADA and tell them what is going on, and I was willing to get a lot of tests before and after the fight and everything would be OK.

I was tested 5 different times up to this point in the UFC, the last time after the Gonzaga fight, and each time the test results were clear. Now it will come out that I was taking illegal substances or doping or something, but it is not like that. Now it is what it is; God forbid there is no more trouble.

Read his full statement here.

Prior to the organization's statement on his anti-doping violation, "Cro Cop" announced his retirement from combat sports, citing years of physical and mental wear-and-tear. Filipovic was last seen taking a technical knockout win over Gabriel Gonzaga last April.

For much more on his hasty exit from MMA click here and here.