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UFC middleweight Abu Azaitar hit with 7-month USADA suspension

Shortly after his brother, Ottman Azaitar, was released from the UFC for violating the promotion’s Abu Dhabi COVID-19 protocols, USADA has announced that Abu Azaitar has been suspended 7 months for violating the UFC Anti-Doping policy.

UFC 242: Azaitar v Packalen Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

It’s been a rough few months for the UFC’s Azaitar brothers. News that middleweight Abu Azaitar has been suspended by USADA follows just shortly on the heels of his brother, Ottman Azaitar’s release from the promotion. Ottman reportedly ran afoul of the UFC’s COVID-19 restrictions in Abu Dhabi, when he allegedly helped a third party enter the promotion’s ‘bubble’ to deliver a bag to his room. The contents of that bag have not been divulged.

For Abu Azaitar, the UFC’s drug testing partner announced on Monday, February 1st, that the Moroccan-born fighter had agreed to serve a seven-month suspension from MMA competition, the result of several flagged urine samples collected in August and September of 2020. Azaitar’s suspension is dated back to August 25th, 2020 – the date of his first positive sample collection – making him eligible to return to competition at the end of March of this year.

The fighter was flagged for a hormone modulator known as Tamoxifen, often used to prevent breast cancer in men and women—although it can also be taken to help treat gynecomastia. According to USADA’s press release, Azaitar was able to produce medical records, showing that he was prescribed the drug by a physician.

After being notified of his positive test, Azaitar provided evidence (including medical records), that he was prescribed tamoxifen by a physician to treat symptoms. Tamoxifen is a selective estrogen receptor modulator used therapeutically to treat certain types of cancer in females and also prescribed off-label for males with various other conditions. Although the substance was taken at the direction of a physician, Azaitar lacked a valid Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) and his subsequent application for a retroactive TUE was denied due to lack of sufficient medical justification. Under the applicable rules, Azaitar was eligible for a reduction to the period of ineligibility based on the specific circumstances of his case and for his Full and Complete Cooperation.

Azaitar had been booked to face Joaquin Buckley back in October, at UFC fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen, however he was forced from the card several weeks out from the event, and replaced by Impa Kasanganay. No reason for the withdrawal was given at the time, but it now seems likely the result of his USADA tests.