Strikeforce women's champion Santos suspended for steroids

Strikeforce women's featherweight champion Cristiane 'Cyborg' Santos weighs in on December 16, 2011

The baddest woman on the planet tested positive for anabolic steroids the day before her most devastating career win, according to a release sent out Friday by the California State Athletic Commission.

Cristiane Justino Santos, 26, the Strikeforce women's featherweight champion, better known as "Cyborg," tested positive for the anabolic steroid Stanazolol, also known as Winstrol. The test took place on Dec. 16, the day before she knocked out the top contender for the title, Japan's Hiroko Yamanaka, in 16 seconds.

According to Dana White, Santos has been stripped of her championship.

The result of the fight held on the Dec. 17 Strikeforce show at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego has been overturned by the commission and ruled a no contest.

"Our primary concern is for the health and safety of fighters," CSAC Executive Officer George Dodd said in a press release sent out on Friday.

"Anabolic agents and other banned substances put not only the users of those agents at risk, but their opponents as well. The commission simply will not tolerate their use."

The release stated that the commission received the test results on Dec. 23 from the World Anti-Doping Agency lab at UCLA.

The release didn't state the length of time of the suspension, but that it would start retroactively on Dec. 16. In the past, California has suspended fighters who have failed steroid tests for one year. Santos, generally considered the best female fighter in the world, has the right to appeal the suspension.

Calls to the commission for comment stated that Dodd had left the office and would be unavailable until Monday.

In its history, the UFC on three occasions has suspended sitting champions after positive steroids test. Josh Barnett was the first, as he tested positive around his 2002 victory over Randy Couture for the heavyweight title in Las Vegas; Tim Sylvia failed in 2003 after a successful title defense against Gan McGee, also in Las Vegas; and lightweight champion Sean Sherk failed in California in 2007 after a title defense against Hermes Franca.

In all three cases, the champions were stripped of their titles.

Stanazolol is the anabolic agent that sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive for in the 1988 Olympics. It is used in weight-class sports because it is believed to lead to increases or maintenance of strength levels while cutting weight to make a weight class.

Generally, injectable Stanazolol clears one's system when it comes to urine tests in about two months, while the oral version clears in three weeks.

Santos, like most fighters, walks around significantly higher than her weight class and in the past has had trouble making weight (145 pounds).

[ Related: • 'Cyborg' blames dietary supplement for failed test ]

With a physique reminiscent of a female bodybuilder, Santos had been the most dominant female fighter on the U.S. scene ever since her arrival from Brazil in 2008. She became the first Strikeforce women's champion on August 15, 2009, when she stopped Gina Carano at the HP Pavilion in San Jose before 13,976 fans. It was the first time a woman's fight was the main event of a major boxing or MMA show, and the match set ratings records for MMA on Showtime. The fight was the most searched item on Yahoo! and the single most talked about topic in the world that night on Twitter.

Santos, who was noted for fighting with a wild, aggressive, crowd-pleasing style, was too physically strong for Carano that night and finished her with strikes on the ground at 4:59 of Round 1. But Santos' fights since that time have not generated the same level of interest, and the fight with Yamanaka was the first for Santos in 19 months after a lengthy contract dispute.

Originally a standout handball player, she began fighting at the age of 19. A native of Curitiba, Brazil, she started at the same academy that produced Wanderlei Silva, to whom her fighting style has always been compared, and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. She married Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos, a well-known fighter who became a star in Japan and at one time challenged for the Strikeforce welterweight title.

The couple moved to San Diego, where she teaches and trains at a gym called The Arena.

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