(Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the UFC's latest statement saying Cung Le will be suspended a full year.)
Cung Le told a reporter that a photo of him that he'd posted on his Instagram page showing him looking exceptionally more muscular than he ever had in the past was simply the result of luck. It was taken in the perfect light, snapped at the perfect time, Le said.
As it turns out, it also appears to have been assisted by Human Growth Hormone. The UFC announced in a statement on its website Tuesday that Le tested positive for HGH following his Aug. 23 loss to Michael Bisping in Macau, China. Bisping won the fight by fourth-round TKO.
After seeing the photo of the much larger appearing Le, Bisping had requested that the UFC do both blood and urine testing for his fight. It appears those tests are what caught Le.
Zuffa on Tuesday released a statement saying Le would be suspended for nine months, but bumped it to a one-year ban on Wednesday.
After review by UFC Senior Management, an error was discovered regarding the length of Cung Le’s suspension due to a failed drug test. While originally stated as nine months, the correct suspension period to be enforced is 12 months.
Le tested positive for an excess level of Human Growth Hormone in his system following his fight at UFC Fight Night in Macao, China on August 23. He will still be required to pass a drug screening before being allowed to compete in the UFC following the completion of his suspension.
Le's positive test once again shows the need for regular, consistent and surprise tests on UFC fighters.
Le is 42 and looked more muscular for the Bisping fight than he ever had previously. It raised plenty of questions, but Le consistently denied taking any banned substances.
"Literally, I just came off the scale and it was a moment, 'I'm so light,' " Le told MMA Junkie's John Morgan. "I gave it a flex and someone caught it in perfect lighting. If I would look like that all the time, I would be happy, but I don't. It was just because of that moment. Everyone can talk all they want."
People talked because it just looked out of the ordinary for Le. And when it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's usually a duck.
The UFC has indicated it is working on a more comprehensive drug test plan. The day it's implemented can't come quickly enough.