Francisco Rivera Suspended 4 Years by USADA for Violating the UFC’s Anti-Doping Policy

Francisco Rivera will not be eligible to return to action until 2020

UFC bantamweight Francisco Rivera has been suspended four years by USADA after violating the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

The suspension was handed down after an independent arbitrator ruled on the facts of the case after Rivera was first put on suspension back on Aug. 17, 2016 following a failed drug test.

According to USADA officials, Rivera tested positive for clenbuterol, classified under anabolic agents that are banned at all times. Clenbuterol is the same substance that has been found in some contaminated meat in different parts of the world.

Unfortunately it appears that Rivera attempted to explain his positive test by claiming he was the victim of tainted meat, but after a thorough investigation, USADA officials could find no evidence to back up his 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,” USADA officials wrote. “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.”

USADA officials stated that under the UFC’s 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 felt that Rivera’s actions to falsify information made him guilty of aggravating circumstance, which led to a standard two year suspension being increased to a maximum four year sanction.

Rivera’s sanction is backdated to Aug. 17, 2016, the day he was provisionally suspended originally, which means he will be eligible to return to action in August 2020.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.