2016 couldn’t let go without dropping a doozie on the MMA world. It was revealed on Thursday morning that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had notified Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino of a possible anti-doping violation. As is custom, USADA did not reveal what the substance might be but did confirm it was from an out-of-competition sample collected earlier this month. “Cyborg” and her boyfriend Ray Elbe immediately responded in her defense claiming that the flagging was due to medication that the Brazilian had been taking to aid her after her brutal weight cut to make the 140 pound limit against Lina Lansberg in September.
Justino is in a very unfortunate circumstance. The UFC broke news last week that it would be introducing a featherweight division and Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie would fight for the first ever UFC featherweight belt. According to “Cyborg,” her weight cut was so taxing on her body she could not even get blood drawn for testing days following the fight. Given the amount of stress the cut put on her body “Cyborg” had to turn down the title fight, citing an inability to recover in time for the UFC 209 pay-per-view in February.
Things have only gotten from bad to worse with this recent news. Although Justino will be afforded her opportunity to present her case and seek an appeal, her past with banned substances, her drastically impacted her chances of coming out with a lenient punishment. A suspension of some sort will most likely be handed down as USADA has yet to completely exonerate an individual from a positive test thus far.
“Cyborg” has not only been considered the number one featherweight in the sport for years now, she is widely considered the best pound-for-pound female in mixed martial arts. A large portion of the MMA community was happy to see “Cyborg” be given her opportunity to compete inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but many detractors were not happy with seeing a fighter with a well-known past connected to performance enhancing drugs compete in the premier mixed martial arts promotion.
As it stands, Justino is still the Invicta FC featherweight champion, no comment has been made by the promotion or Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp as to how the USADA issue might effect her standing within that promotion. A main event bout between top featherweights Megan Anderson and Charmaine Tweet will take place next month at Invicta FC 21, with the winner being seen as the de facto number one contender. Moreover, it is now no longer a given that “Cyborg” will be the default challenger for the winner of Holm and de Randamie. With all the issues surrounding “Cyborg” at the moment, it is quite possible a significant suspension can severely effect two promotions and two title pictures.