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California court lifts Alexander Shlemenko's drug suspension

Alexander Shlemenko is eligible to fight again in the United States effective immediately after a California court reduced his long drug suspension.

Bellator MMA
Bellator MMA

Alexander Shlemenko had his three-year suspension reduced by a California court today, but the California State Athletic Commission is still considering the court case a victory. Shlemenko, a former Bellator middleweight champion, was handed the suspension along with a $10,000 fine when he tested positive for steroids. That left him ineligible to fight until 2018.

Until the ruling that is, which dropped his suspension to the date his California fighter license expired - February 28th. They ruled that he could compete again immediately, once he paid a reduced fine.

According to MMA Fighting, the court dropped the suspension due to his lawyer arguing that, when Shlemenko was sent notification of the infraction, it said he would face a one-year maximum suspension. The court agreed that three years was excessive, and they couldn't go any more than a year until the appeal process.

Despite the drop, CSAC director Andy Foster applauded the decision:

"The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) is pleased that the court upheld the doping violation of Alexander Shlemenko. The court ruled that CSAC is not required to collect a ‘B' sample in order to prove the presence of banned substances. In addition, the court found that Shlemenko failed to demonstrate that CSAC was biased during the proceedings against him. CSAC proved its case in court and demonstrated that Shlemenko violated Cal. Code of Regs. title 4, section 303(c) regarding a positive test for a banned substance. Consequently, Shlemenko had an unfair advantage in Bellator 133 over opponent Melvin Manhoef. Shlemenko has not paid the fines and does not currently possess an active license to fight in California.

"We understand the court's decision to reduce the fine and suspension period for procedural reasons that in no way takes away from the seriousness of Shlemenko's offense."

Shlemenko has been defying the suspension by fighting overseas for M-1. It's unclear if he would face any penalty for doing that if or when he returns to fight in the US.

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