Vitor Belfort will not face Chris Weidman on May 24 for the middleweight title (Getty)
But his Los Angeles-based attorney, Neal Tabachnick, agreed to answer questions from Yahoo Sports via email.
In a brief phone conversation Friday, Tabachnick said he felt there was some misunderstanding and mischaracterization of the events of Thursday and early Friday that led to Belfort being yanked from his spot at UFC 173. He wanted to answer via email rather than on the telephone to ensure accuracy.
I had three questions for Tabachnick: Did Belfort's random Feb. 7 test have an elevated T/E ratio? Was Belfort taking TRT at the time of the test? And was Team Belfort ready to appear before the commission in a licensure hearing on March 11?
Tabachinck answered those questions early Friday afternoon Pacific time, and they are below.
Vitor Belfort (Getty)
Yahoo Sports: Did the test that Vitor took on Feb. 7 come back with an elevated T/E ratio?
Tabachnick: The test is not relevant as Vitor is not applying for a license to fight in Nevada at this time. The reason for Zuffa replacing Vitor with Lyoto [Machida] for the May 2014 middleweight championship bout was because of the Commission's change in direction on TRT/TUE [Thursday]. Zuffa felt that with this change at the Commission, there is no time for Vitor to drop his TRT program, secure a license for a May 2014 bout and leave Zuffa with time to properly promote the bout.
Yahoo Sports: Was Vitor on TRT at the time he took that Feb. 7 test?
Tabachnick: Yes, under a doctor's care.
Yahoo Sports: Would you have been ready to present Vitor's case to the commission at its March 11 hearing if UFC didn't ask Vitor to step aside from the May 24 fight?
Tabachnick: The intention was to apply for a license on March 11, but the new TRT/TUE ruling at the Commission altered that plan.
Tabachnick's admission that Belfort was using TRT, albeit under a doctor's care, on Feb. 7 could be problematic. The Nevada commission's position on the use of testosterone replacement prior to the ban was that it could not be used by an applicant until after it was granted, even if a therapeutic use exemption had by granted by another jurisdiction.
Thus, simply admitting he was on TRT on Feb. 7 would have been a violation of the commission's regulations.
That, at least, was how the commission viewed the situation prior to the surprise vote to ban TRT on Thursday.
And Tabachnick's point in Question 1, that the test result is irrelevant now, is technically correct. Belfort is not a licensee and has not applied for a license. In that regard, he is no different than a private citizen who gets his blood drawn and has lab work done. Thus, the commission is handcuffed regarding the test results until Belfort applies. Then the result becomes relevant.
This story is a long way from being over.
- Vitor Belfort