UFC Bantamweight Francisco Rivera Suspended Four Years for Anti-Doping Violation

Francisco Rivera UFC
Francisco Rivera Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

UFC Bantamweight Francisco Rivera has had the book thrown at him by USADA.

In a press release Friday, the U.S. Anti-Doping agency announced that UFC bantamweight Francisco Rivera has been handed a four year suspension. That’s the harshest penalty possible, and follows not only a failed drug test for anabolic agent clenbuterol, but also potentially falsified evidence submitted by the athlete. As a result, the maximum punishment was dished out.

In Friday’s release, the organization stated that:

After a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Rivera’s case, USADA concluded that the clenbuterol levels detected in his sample were inconsistent with what could be expected from meat contamination. Furthermore, 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. Thereafter, Rivera opted to have his case submitted to a neutral arbitrator for resolution.

In advance of the arbitration hearing, USADA’s ongoing investigation revealed 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.

Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, 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. In this case, the independent arbitrator concluded that Rivera’s conduct warranted an increase from the standard two-year period of ineligibility for a first offense, to the maximum four-year period of ineligibility due to aggravating circumstances.

Rivera, 36, is 11-7 as a pro. He lost his last three fights with the UFC, the most recent coming at UFC 201 in 2016. That decision loss to Erik Perez followed losses to John Lineker and Brad Pickett. Overall, after joining the promotion in 2012, he went 4-5 (1NC) in the UFC.

Even with the suspension backdated to August 17, 2016 when he was provisionally suspended, this could easily spell the end of Rivera’s career.