Wanderlei Silva‘s longtime disciplinary case before the Nevada Athletic Commission came to a conclusion on Wednesday. The commission reduced Silva's suspension to three years and erased the $70,000 fine levied against him.
Silva was initially handed a lifetime ban and a $70,000 fine by the commission for evading a random drug test prior to a planned bout with Chael Sonnen at UFC 175 in the summer of 2014.
Believing the punishment was heavy handed, Silva’s legal team took the matter before the courts. The commission was ordered by a Nevada district court judge to reconsider the penalties, ruling the commission's initial sanctions were “in excess of the statutory authority of the agency.”
Silva‘s re-hearing was initially supposed to have taken place in October of last year, but was pushed back from one month’s meeting to the next until finally being addressed on Wednesday.
Following a review of the cases details, Nevada Deputy Attorney General Caroline Bateman gave the commission some guidance as to what might be considered more acceptable punishment for Silva evading a drug test. The Nevada commission had never addressed such a case in the past, so Bateman referenced guidelines from other agencies, such as World Anti-Doping Agency, United States Anti-Doping Agency, Ultimate Fighting Championship, and International Association of Athletics Federations.
The consensus was that most agencies had a baseline penalty in the area of 24 months, but allowed for increasing the penalty if there were aggravating circumstances.
Although Silva's lawyer, Ross Goodman, again stated his claim that the commission should have no jurisdiction over his client in the matter, he went on to argue that there were no aggravating circumstances, and that if his client were to be sanctioned, it should be based solely on his evasion of the drug test.
In deliberating the case following the arguments presented by Bateman and Goodman, the commission ultimately determined that Silva's violation of evading a drug test was aggravated by Silva having admitted that he knew he would have tested positive for a diuretic and by the fact that he continued to evade testing upon repeated attempts by the collection agent and the commission's executive director, Bob Bennett, to contact him.
The commission used the other agencies' guidelines – specifically addressing a past USADA case – to help form its ultimate penalty for Silva. Former commission chair Francisco Aguilar made a motion to assess Silva a 36-month suspension retroactive to May 24, 2014, the date of the initial evasion, and determined there should be no fine as Silva did not receive a purse since the fight with Sonnen never occurred. Commissioner Pat Lundvall added to the motion with the stipulations that Silva should be required to pay the attorney general's office expenses in the matter and, should he decide to apply for a license to fight in Nevada in the future, he would be required provide a clean drug test result at his own expense.
The Nevada Athletic Commission voted unanimously to approve the revised sanctions, with Michon Martin, who is new to the commission, abstaining from the vote.