When news broke recently that current number one UFC LightWeight title contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone had failed a random USADA drug test, many took this as an official “failed test”. Technically, Cerrone did fail here, but not under normal circumstances.
Cerrone, who basically lives in an RV, decided to take a trip to Nevada, and was not home when USADA test administers arrived at his provided address. This will go down as a “Whereabouts failure”, basically strike one of three, and will not affect his December 19th title bout against Rafael dos Anjos. According to the USADA website, athletes must inform the USADA of their whereabouts information at all times. The full “Whereabouts” guidelines can be found here:
Now let’s not attack Cerrone for missing this test too much. We all know Cerrone is the happy wanderer of the MMA world, always on the road looking for an adventure or party of some sort. But with the new rules now in place, even the fan favorite Cerrone needs to understand the stakes have been raised for all, and you simply cannot decide to simply up and leave without proper notification.
Prior to his scheduled UFC 187 bout versus Khabib Nurmagomedov, Cerrone took to Twitter and said:
Yes @ufc please drug test me! You’ll fine 100% true American hard work. And going out on a limb here but more then likely Budweiser
— Cowboy Cerrone (@Cowboycerrone) April 3, 2015
This tweet was obviously only earlier this year, and was brought on by Nurmagomedov’s comments regarding Cerrone’s previous drug test failure, which took place at WEC 30. Whether you consider it a true failed test or not, Cerrone was flagged for the diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. While the USADA does give this allowance for missing a random test, the big question is why? What is the point of random testing, and informing them of your whereabouts at all times, if you can be given a slap on the wrist for not providing a sample at their request. Again, no one is saying Cerrone left town to not give his sample here, but the fact that he missed a required, USADA mandated test and basically skated on any punishment, only because there is none, shouldn’t be ignored. Think back to earlier this year with Jose Aldo and his testing debacle in Brazil. A man who has never failed a test in his career was demonized for hiding something, but yet Cerrone, a man who has failed a test before, was able to miss one himself, but it’s ok somehow? Imagine how many fighters, seeing this now, can use the same excuse should they draw a random test. Just hit the road for a week or 2, miss your possible test, and all will be fine.
Another piece of information that came to light yesterday regarding Cerrone as well involved his exemption from the highly debated IV ban. Speaking to Tait Fletcher on Pirate Radio recently, Cerrone stated that due to an ATV accident, he is missing “50 feet of intestine and half a stomach” and therefore cannot rehydrate as easily as others. Going back to his WEC 30 failed test again, Hydrochlorothiazide is a known masking agent for performance enhancing drugs. Russian cyclist Alexandr Kolobnev was flagged for the drug following the 2011 Tour de France, and while Kolobnev was eventually cleared of any wrong doing, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) classifies the drug as a ‘specified substance”. If the entire point of enhanced, random testing is to rid the sport of possible cheaters, why are drugs that provide performance enhancing capabilities almost written off as ok? American Judo competitor Annie Atkinson was suspended for 3 months in 2013 for being flagged for Hydrochlorothiazide, among other substances, so the USADA obviously considers this an illegal substance. It should be noted that Cerrone received an 8 month ban from Nevada for his failed test.
Surely Cerrone did not make up his medical issues which led to his IV exemption, but why is this any different than a fighter such as Vitor Belfort receiving a TRT exemption following a failed drug test? No matter what your opinion on Cerrone is, usually very positive, adding up all these circumstances and coincidences should at least raise your eyebrow slightly.
Missed official random test. Failed drug test previously for a weight cutting aid. IV exemption when the exact point of the ban was to stop the possibility of masking PEDs, which is what Hydrochlorothiazide can be used for as well. Once again though, this is not to say Cerrone has done a single thing wrong besides not informing the USADA properly, but in a sporting world that now looks to crack down at all times on all levels, accountability has to be taken at some point. He was well aware of the testing protocols, so why pack up and leave without telling anyone that needed to know?
Cerrone has always been viewed as a larger Lightweight fighter, and the knowing that the drug he failed for not only has masking capabilities, but is also a weight cutting aid, a new light has been cast on Cerrone. Had he simply missed this test, most would not care. But add in the previous failed test with the news of his allowance of an IV, fan favorite or not, Cerrone may find himself in some murky waters with any more indiscretions.
EDIT: Cerrone has since stated he was in Nevada completing the needed medicals to compete.