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UFC bantamweight veteran Francisco Rivera slapped with four-year suspension by USADA

UFC 191: Rivera v Lineker Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Bantamweight veteran Francisco Rivera is going to have to wait a very long time to step back inside of the UFC’s Octagon, as the 36-year-old was hit with a massive four-year suspension by an independent arbitrator earlier this week, per a recent United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announcement.

Rivera, who tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol stemming from an out-of-competition urine test administered on July 23, 2016, had falsified information to support his case in proving that the banned substance was a product of contaminated meat.

From the official USADA statement:

After a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Rivera’s case, USADA concluded that the clenbuterol levels detected in his sample were inconsistent with what could be expected from meat contamination. Furthermore, Rivera was unable to provide independently verifiable evidence to support his claim that he had traveled to Northern Mexico and ingested meat in the days leading up to the relevant sample collection. Thereafter, Rivera opted to have his case submitted to a neutral arbitrator for resolution.

In advance of the arbitration hearing, USADA’s ongoing investigation revealed that several pieces of evidence presented by Rivera to USADA and the arbitrator had been falsified to support the athlete’s claims that the substance had originated from contaminated meat in Mexico.

Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, deceitful or obstructive conduct intended to avoid the detection or adjudication of an anti-doping policy violation may be regarded as aggravating circumstances, which can lead to an increased period of ineligibility. In this case, the independent arbitrator concluded that Rivera’s conduct warranted an increase from the standard two-year period of ineligibility for a first offense, to the maximum four-year period of ineligibility due to aggravating circumstances.


Rivera was in line for a two-year suspension considering this was his first offense, but after USADA discovered that the 11-fight UFC vet had falsified information to support his case the independent arbitrator ruled that Rivera’s suspension be increased to four years due to “aggravating circumstances.”

At 36 years of age, it’s safe to say that Rivera will never step foot back inside of the Octagon. While other fighters have tested positive for clenbuterol in the past and have been handed out limited sanctions, Rivera’s corrupt actions to prove the banned substance came from tainted Mexican meat ultimately spelled disaster.

Rivera had lost five out of his last six fights prior to his 2016 failed test.

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