There’d been rumours about Ali Bagautinov in the week leading up to UFC 174 in Vancouver.
Reports had emerged that the International Sambo Federation had banned Bagautinov for failing a drug test in 2012.
Bagautinov denied the allegations and they were mostly forgotten, mainly because Chael Sonnen also retired that week following a failed drug test of his own.
This time, there’s no getting away from it.
Bagautinov, who fought and lost to UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson, failed a random drug test administered by the British Columbia Athletic Commission in the days leading up to the UFC 174 bout and has been suspended for a year.
The test revealed he had Recombinant Human Erythropoieten in his system.
"Mr. Ali Bagautinov was tested out of competition on June 2, 2014," the office stated. "Results were positive for erythropoietin, or EPO - a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA].
"[The BCAC] has suspended Mr. Bagautinov's license to compete in British Columbia for a period of one year."
The Russian was one of eight fighters tested by the BCAC in the build-up to the Vancouver fight card, and all the others came back clean.
Still, it’s the latest in a series of embarrassing performance-enhancing drug-related incidents for the UFC in 2014.
There was the controversy surrounding the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s banning of testosterone replacement therapy and the subsequent fall-out for prominent TRT users like Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.
Zuffa, the company that owns the UFC, was quick to release a statement on Friday.
“The UFC has a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents by our athletes,” Zuffa said in a statement. “Bagautinov will serve a one-year suspension and must pass a drug test at the conclusion of his suspension before receiving clearance to compete in the UFC again.”
UFC president Dana White was no less emphatic when he spoke with Yahoo Sports about the suspension.
“I’m beyond disappointed,” White said. “We’re not paying lip service to this. We’re trying to clean this up. It’s hurting everyone in the sport and we’re all over it.”
CYBORG TO BANTAMWEIGHT
When MMA fans aren’t clamouring to see Gina Carano fight Ronda Rousey, it seems like it’s a potential fight between Cris Cyborg and the UFC women’s bantamweight champion that hogs most of their attention.
Fortunately, that fight appears to be a little closer to becoming a reality.
Cyborg will make her debut at 135 pounds in December on a yet-to-be-named Invicta FC card. Cyborg hasn’t lost since 2003 and is a former Strikeforce champion.
After seeing Rousey dismantle Canadian Alexis Davis in 16 seconds at UFC 175, there’s more pressure than ever on the UFC to find genuine challengers to the longtime champ.
The recent signing of unbeaten bantamweight Holly Holm could be a step in that direction, although there are many in the MMA world who insist Holm hasn’t been tested against top competition.
EVANS TO WWE?
There have been persistent rumours this week that former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is considering a move to the WWE.
Evans spoke to MMA Mania on Thursday and offered a little clarification on the matter.
“If I ever did anything like that, it would be after I finished fighting,” Evans said. “I’m not gonna be done fighting for at least four years.
“I had a million people asking me if I was retiring for wrestling, but honestly speaking, if I didn’t get seriously paid to do it I wouldn’t do it. I think it would be disrespectful to my legacy in the UFC if I didn’t do a deal that would make sense.”