Francisco Rivera Suspended Four Years

An independent arbitrator has given a four-year suspension to veteran UFC bantamweight Francisco Rivera.

The suspension comes as a result of a failed July 2016 drug test, where Rivera tested positive for clenbuterol, a banned substance. The suspension is retroactively dated to August 2016, when Rivera was first provisionally suspended by USADA.

Rivera maintained innocence, stating that the positive test may have stemmed from tainted meat that he ate in Mexico. But in a statement, USADA “concluded that the clenbuterol levels detected in [Rivera’s] sample were inconsistent with what could be expected from meat contamination,” and Rivera was “unable to provide independently verifiable evidence to support his claim that he had traveled to Northern Mexico and ingested meat in the days leading up to the relevant sample collection.”

Rivera submitted his case to the independent arbitrator, but a USADA investigation found that “several pieces of evidence presented by Rivera to USADA and the arbitrator had been falsified to support the athlete’s claims that the substance had originated from contaminated meat in Mexico.”

Because of Rivera’s fabrication, his suspension fell under “deceitful or obstructive conduct intended to avoid the detection or adjudication of an anti-doping policy violation may be regarded as aggravating circumstances, which can lead to an increased period of ineligibility,” according to USADA.

Prior to arbitration, Rivera was in line for a two-year suspension. However, due to the circumstances, the arbitrator increased the suspension to the maximum four years. In addition, since Rivera was going to compete at UFC 201 in Georgia prior to the suspension, the Georgia State Athletic Commission is able to put on additional fines or suspensions if it chooses to sanction them.

The suspension will end in August 2020, when Rivera is two months away from turning 39.

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