It should never come as a surprise when an athlete in modern athletics tests positive for a banned substance or elevated testosterone. Lavar Johnson was one of the recent positives in the UFC, testing positive for elevated testosterone levels after being slowly picked apart by Brendan Schaub at UFC 157.
Johnson was on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani on Monday and revealed that he was on Testosterone Replacement Therapy but didn't disclose it:
"What happened was basically I was on TRT, I just didn’t disclose it to the athletic commission," the 36-year old Johnson said. "It was my mistake. I was taking such little amounts; me and my doctor didn’t think anything was going to pop up, like it’s no big deal. I guess any time you’re taking any kind of testosterone it’s going to show on the test. So that’s basically what I got popped for.
"You know, if you take steroids they’ll suspend you for a year. I wasn’t taking steroids. I was prescribed [TRT] by a doctor. They suspended me for nine months, and I ended up showing them my prescription from my doctor and everything. They ended up reducing it to six months. That was it. Unfortunately I got released from the UFC, and messed up the good opportunity. But Bellator, they believe in me, and they are going to give the opportunity and chance to showcase my skills."
It's not true that athletic commission testing would detect "if you're taking any kind of testosterone," in the initial test they only check your testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio. There was certainly not carbon isotope ratio testing being done, which is the way that they'd detect if the testosterone in an athlete's body is natural or synthetic. The CIR test would come after the elevated levels were detected to verify that he was not an extremely rare case of naturally highly elevated testosterone levels. Which, if he had naturally high levels, he wouldn't need the TRT to begin with...so...
In short, if he was under the allowed testosterone/epitestosterone levels it would not be detected by the initial testing. I believe that level is 4:1 in California while still 6:1 in Nevada, though I may be wrong and it may be 6:1 in California still.
Either way, it's not simply that he was "taking testosterone and it showed up," it's that his level was elevated beyond the accepted threshold that much is clear through all the information provided by the CSAC.
Clarification: It should be noted that the CSAC limit is 4:1 and Lavar Johnson's ratio was 6.6:1. That triggered the CSAC doing CIR testing which led to the suspension.