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USADA clears UFC’s Cris Cyborg of potential PED policy violation

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The USADA announced Cris Cyborg will face no punishments after testing positive for Spironolactone in December 2016.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Cyborg vs Lansberg
Cris Cyborg
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

The USADA will not punish Cris Cyborg for testing positive on an out-of-competition test conducted in December 2016. As the official USADA website reported today. In fact, she has been granted a retroactive Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for Spironolactone, the banned substance she tested positive for.

Cyborg appealed the drug test failure by explaining her physician prescribed the drug to treat an endocrine condition. After a series of interviews and investigations, the USADA accepted Justino's explanation and has cleared her to fight again.

“Upon notice of her positive test, Justino immediately identified a medication prescribed by her physician for the treatment of a common endocrine disorder as the source of the prohibited substance detected in her sample. She also participated in multiple interviews with USADA’s investigative team and consented to USADA interviewing her physician as well.

After a thorough investigation of the circumstances that preceded her positive test, which included a comprehensive review of Justino’s documented medical history, USADA accepted Justino’s explanation that her use of Spironolactone began in late September, following her bout at UFC Fight Night Brasilia, and was in accordance with her physician’s recommendation for the treatment of a legitimate medical condition. Nonetheless, because Spironolactone is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, USADA advised Justino that her use of the medication without a valid TUE violated the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. Accordingly, Justino applied for a TUE to authorize her use of the medication, with retroactive effect.

USADA recognizes that over the course of a career, athletes may experience illnesses or medical conditions that require the use of a particular medication for proper treatment. While athletes are educated and encouraged to apply for a TUE in advance of using a prohibited substance or method, the UFC Anti-Doping Policy permits athletes to file for retroactive TUEs where the use of a prohibited substance or method was medically justified. Athletes are cautioned, however, that applying retroactively is at their own risk and the only guaranteed way to avoid an anti-doping policy violation for using a prohibited substance or method is by obtaining a TUE prior to the use of a prohibited substance or method.”

In the same press release, USADA later elaborated on why they granted Cyborg a retroactive TUE.

“In the case of Justino, the application for a TUE was granted because the athlete had an unequivocally diagnosed chronic medical condition for which the use of Spironolactone is the appropriate standard of care. Further, it was determined that the athlete and her medical team pursued and exhausted all non-prohibited alternatives and that the low dose of the medication is consistent with best medical practice to treat her condition and would return the athlete to a normal state of health without providing a performance-enhancing benefit.”

In December 2011, Cyborg's Strikeforce win over Hiroko Yamanaka was overturned after she tested positive for the steroid stanozolol. She was stripped of her featherweight belt and never fought for the organization again. In her UFC run, Justino has scored two consecutive TKO wins, over Leslie Smith and Lina Lansberg. Her last outing dates back to September 2016.

This clearance by USADA will also allow Cyborg to potentially fight for the UFC women’s featherweight title, which currently belongs to Germaine de Randamie, who defeated Holly Holm at UFC 208.