Sitting on the sidelines for nearly a year after failing a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) administered drug test, which forced the cancellation of his fight against Francis Ngannou at UFC 215, Junior dos Santos is finally gearing up for his MMA return.
“Ciagno” will return to action at UFC Fight Night 133 on July 14, 2018 to face Blagoy Ivanov in the main event in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (details). While the former Heavyweight champion is pleased to get back into the swing of things, the way USADA handled his failed test -- which was ultimately proven to be due to a contaminated supplement — has left a very sour taste in his mouth.
“They stopped my whole career to investigate the thing. 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,” declared Junior during a recent interview on The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting). “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.”
Josh Barnett can attest to Junior’s frustration, as he was also forced to sit on the sidelines even after USADA realized a contaminated supplement was at the root of his own failed drug test.
Aside form losing eight months of his career, Junior’s reputation was tarnished, as many labeled him a cheater without gathering all the facts. After having his suspension reduced to six months, Junior says he feels somewhat vindicated as far as the public's opinion goes.
“I feel the truth was found and everybody knows that was a tainted supplement. 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.”
To hear dos Santos tell it, he would like to see USADA revamp its procedures when it comes to handling tainted tests, especially when they have the facts in front of them and not prolong suspensions. That said, his confidence in his ability to get back to the top of the division hasn’t wavered.
“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,” he concluded.