Steroid for which Anderson Silva tested positive a 'potent performance enhancer'

Kevin Iole
Cagewriter
Steroid for which Anderson Silva tested positive a 'potent performance enhancer'
Steroid for which Anderson Silva tested positive a 'potent performance enhancer'

The mixed martial arts world is still reeling from the news that the legendary Anderson Silva tested positive for two separate performance-enhancing drugs in a random screen given to him on Jan. 9 by the Nevada Athletic Commission prior to his Jan. 31 appearance at UFC 183 in Las Vegas.

Silva's test wasn't returned to the commission from the Sports Medicine & Research Testing Laboratory, a World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Salt Lake City, until Feb. 3. Daniel Eichner, the lab's executive director, told Yahoo Sports on Wednesday that because there was no rush put on the test and all tests are done anonymously, Silva's sample didn't get returned more quickly.

That is critical because the failure to get it back in a timely manner allowed him to compete despite the presence of drostanolone and methyltestosterone in his system.

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Many combat sports athletes have tested positive for drostanolone, but methyltestosterone is rarely seen. It is an oral steroid.

Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)
Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

Yahoo Sports reached out to Travis Tygart, the chief executive officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, to get a better understanding of methyltestosterone and whether it is concerning that a random test that was given 22 days before a bout wasn't returned until three days after it.

"Methly-T is a classic performance enhancing drug, and is effective, fast-acting and can build lean muscle mass quickly," Tygart said via e-mail. "It would certainly be a potent performance enhancer, particularly in a combat sport."

News of the positive test was greeted by shock by nearly everyone connected with MMA. There had been no whispers that Silva was a user and he'd actually been outspoken against PEDs. In an interview with MMA Junkie in October, he called for the elimination of steroids from MMA.

This is not bad for me; this is bad for the sport. People around the world love the UFC, but the kids love the UFC, and the families love UFC. It’s bad for the sport. I don’t think this is good because the sport can change the lives of the kids and the people in the world. When the guys test for the steroids, it’s bad because this is a problem. It’s bad not just for the UFC, but for the sport.

What is truly bad is that an athlete who was using performance-enhancing drugs was able to fight with it because of the delay in reporting.

Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada commission, said he'll ask SMRTL to put a priority on all tests it does in the future.

Tygart said labs do need time but that a priority request would be critical in a case such as Silva's.

"Laboratories absolutely need adequate time to conduct a thorough and complete analysis, but they can and do provide expedited analysis if the testing organization informs the lab of any impending competition deadline," Tygart said. "We do this before big events like Olympic Trials, World Championships, etc., but you have to be in communication with the lab to let them know it is urgent, since the samples they receive do not have athlete names or competition dates, and they will not be aware a sample is urgent unless they are informed."

Silva has denied using PEDs. He'll be required to appear at a Feb. 17 hearing of the Nevada commission where it will look to impose a temporary suspension on him pending a full disciplinary hearing.

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