The UFC, a mixed martial arts competition organization, is zero stranger to its top athletes taking advantage of performance-enhancing drugs – illegally, of course – an effort to gain an edge over the other fighters that they are squaring off against inside of the octagon.
Some of the biggest names in the UFC (and MMA in general) have been slapped with pretty significant suspensions and penalties, none more so than champion Jon “Bones” Jones. This organization has never been shy about penalizing anyone that crosses the line and pops positive or has a hot test for performance-enhancing drugs, regardless of whether or not you are a superstar, up and comer, or somewhere in between.
Mexican lightweight Marco Polo Reyes is learning that firsthand.
A relative newcomer to the sport, but widely regarded as one of the best lightweight fighters to enter any card in quite a while, Reyes has had a charmed career leading up to now. Though he has yet to achieve his championship ambitions, many find him to be one of the finest strikers in the game today – and it shouldn’t take long for him to start battling against other top-tier lightweights for larger purse fights in the near future.
Unfortunately, that future is a little bit further away today than it was even just a few weeks ago. It turns out that Reyes has popped positive for an as yet unannounced to performance-enhancing drug that was used during out of competition testing. The USADA has released the preliminary information regarding his suspension, banning him from competition in the UFC (or any other affiliated fighting organization) for the next six months.
Like most other athletes that have popped positive for their first performance-enhancing drug violation Reyes has denied knowingly using any prohibited substances whatsoever. He was told that he was found to have been using SARM drugs – selective androgen receptor modulators that work very similar to the way that traditional anabolic steroids do.
In his public statements, Reyes says he believes that he has been the victim of a contaminated supplement and that’s why his test was positive in the first place. Reyes has also provided the USADA with two different dietary supplements that he had been using during the out of competition timeline when he was tested, and neither of those dietary supplements listed any prohibited substances on their labels. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t contain banned substances, however.
To confirm the story Reyes was a victim of contaminated supplements the USADA independently ordered multiple bottles of the same two supplements. These products were then submitted to a WADA accredited laboratory for examination, the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Interestingly enough, it turns out that both of the supplements that Reyes claims to have used during this out of competition phase of training had been found to include SARMS that had been prohibited by the USDA and the USADA – even though they did not mention these ingredients on the label.
Initially, Reyes was looking at a suspension that could have been good for up to four years for his first anti-doping violation. The US ADA had considered handing out the 24 month suspension for cases of proven dietary supplement contamination, though they now contend that it’s impossible to assume Reyes used the supplements knowing that they had contaminated substances inside them and he would be eligible for that punishment at all.
Because he was able to provide evidence that looks like it will vindicate him, he’s only been given a preliminary six-month suspension. He will likely be able to find just a few months, as the suspension timeline has continued to count down even during his appeal.