UFC's Cris 'Cyborg' Justino notified of potential anti-doping violation

UFC fighter Cris
UFC fighter Cris “Cyborg” Justino was notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency Thursday about a potential violation from an out-of-competition test on Dec. 5. (Getty Images)

The UFC created the featherweight division specifically for Cris “Cyborg” Justino, and before it ever had one bout, it was turned upside down.

Justino was notified Thursday of a potential anti-doping violation that emanated from a Dec. 5 out-of-competition test from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Justino has been tested 14 times by USADA since the UFC began its anti-doping program in 2015. She passed the first 13, but the last one was a positive. She was tested 11 times in 2016 and three times in 2015. She fought twice in the UFC this year, winning both by knockout.

Overall in her MMA career, she is 17-1 with one no contest.

The UFC released a statement Thursday about Justino’s test. In full, it reads:

The UFC organization was formally notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on December 5, 2016.

USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case. It is important to note that, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full fair legal review process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed.

Consistent with all previous potential anti-doping violations, additional information or UFC statements will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.

Justino, who could not be reached for comment, failed a 2011 test while she was fighting for Strikeforce and served a one-year suspension. She tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol following a victory over Hiroko Yamanaka on Dec. 17, 2011.

In a post to her personal web page, Justino said she tested positive for spironolactone, which is a diuretic.

She wrote, “We are being fully cooperating [sic] with USADA at this time and have already started the process of applying for a retroactive therapeutic use exemption. For my fans who are disappointed in the news, I am sorry. You can feel confident that the substance they are inquiring about is not for performance enhancing use, and is needed for my specific treatments.”

In 2014, Justino told Yahoo Sports she took the steroids to help her lose weight.

“I don’t need [steroids] for muscles,” she said then. “I always had muscles for as long as I remember. It’s how I was born. I did it for the weight. It was a mistake, but it wasn’t to cheat and get muscles. It was weight [loss].”

The UFC created its women’s featherweight division eight days ago, on Dec. 14, and announced that Holly Holm would fight Germaine de Randamie for the vacant title on Feb. 11 at UFC 208 in Brooklyn. That led to speculation about why Justino, who has shown she’s the world’s most dominant featherweight, wasn’t involved.

UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports at the time that he’d offered Justino three fights at 145 and she turned all of them down.

This alleged positive test creates great uncertainty for her future and could lead to a lengthy suspension. It also would seem to end any hope of a dream fight between Justino and ex-women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey.

Rousey has been highly critical of Justino’s positive test in the past and blasted her in a 2014 interview with Yahoo Sports.

“I’ve said before, I don’t care if she’s injecting horse semen into her eyeballs, I’ll fight her, but that’s just my personal decision,” Rousey said in 2014. “But I can’t make a decision for the whole division. I can’t say it’s the right thing. This girl has been on steroids for so long and [has been] injecting herself for so long that she’s not even a woman anymore. She’s an ‘it.’ It’s not good for the women’s division. It’s not good at all.

“If she comes in the UFC and I beat the [expletive] out of her and then I retire and become an action movie star, then the UFC is still going to be stuck with her. The division could die. She could ruin the whole sport. Even though it’s a fight a lot of people want to see, even if I beat the living crap out of her, it won’t be good for the sport because then she’d still be in the UFC.”

Cris Justino grins as she walks to the cage for her UFC debut at UFC 198 in May. (Getty Images)
Cris Justino grins as she walks to the cage for her UFC debut at UFC 198 in May. (Getty Images)