Which Released UFC Fighter Was Suspended By USADA?
Even though he was released by the UFC a year ago, Gilbert Melendez won’t be able to escape USADA.
The former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion was given a two-year suspension, retroactive to November 1, 2019. He will be cleared to compete on November 1, 2021. This is after an independent arbitrator ruled against Melendez following a positive drug test taken in 2019.
USADA stated the following in a release:
“Melendez, 38, tested positive for GHRP-6 and its metabolites GHRP-6(2-5)-OH and GHRP-6(2-6)-OH as the result of a urine sample collected out-of-competition on October 16, 2019. GHRP-6 is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances, and Mimetics, and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and UFC Prohibited List.”
“While Melendez did not contest the presence of GHRP-6 and its metabolites in his sample nor identify a source of the prohibited peptide, he did challenge USADA’s jurisdiction to conduct the test. The arbitrator concluded that USADA did have jurisdiction to both conduct the test and allege an anti-doping policy violation in the event of a positive sample, as was the case.”
Melendez started his MMA career in 2002, winning the WEC Lightweight Title in his fourth fight. Beating Clay Guida for the Strikeforce Lightweight Title, he lost the title but became a unified champion against Josh Thomson in 2009. He carried a seven-fight win streak heading into 2013 when he fought and lost to Benson Henderson in his UFC debut for the UFC Lightweight Title.
Melendez would only win one fight with the UFC and was 6-1 with the promotion. He was released by the UFC in November, but the UFC did not inform USADA or Melendez that his contract was nixed until after. “El Nino” was also removed from the USADA testing program in December of that year.
While he hasn’t announced his intentions to retire, Melendez has not yet stated his next move. He will have to wait following his suspension if he were to sign with any other company within the United States.