Earlier this year, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida was yanked from a middleweight bout with Dan Henderson after he admitted that he’d consumed the banned substance 7-Keto-DHEA. Late last week, the former champ finally received his punishment for this incident: an 18-month suspension, retroactive to April 8, which means he won’t be able to compete again until October 2017.
Machida’s suspension was reduced from the initially discussed two years because he admitted to consuming the substance, which was an ingredient in a supplement he was using. The key detail in all of this drama, however, is that he claims he did not know it was on USADA’s restricted list when he did so.
On Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Machida joined host Ariel Helwani to discuss his suspension – a suspension he believes is ‘very unfair.’
On the show, Machida explained that the banned substance in question was an ingredient in an anti-stress supplement he was taking in the wake of his back-to-back losses to Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero. He added that he purchased this supplement over the counter at a supplement store.
“I needed it because [ I had experienced] two losses in a row,” he explained. “It was so hard training at that moment because I was so stressed, so stressed. I used it for stress relief, so I didn’t know.”
“I bought it over the counter in a supplement store,” he continued. “It stated on its label, ’60 vegetarian capsules.’”
Machida went on to reiterate that he really had no idea there were any banned substances in the supplement he was taking. The reason he didn’t know, he explained, is because USADA doesn’t adequately educate fighters on what they can and can’t take.
“For me, USADA didn’t give us proper instruction,” he said. “I think they failed in educating us about everything. To be honest, they only sent me a proper list of banned supplements after they decided on my suspension, they sent it to me maybe two or three days later.”
“When the UFC brought USADA in, I thought it was to instruct and educate all the fighters, but instead they came in to punish in a very unreasonable fashion.”
In another segment of his conversation with Helwani, Machida explained that he is not the kind of fighter who would knowingly take a banned substance, and that if he was, it would be stupid to do so given the testing he knew he would undergo in the lead-up to his planned bout with Henderson.
“How would I take this supplement for the fight if I knew that it was banned?” he said. “Somebody in a good conscience wouldn’t do that at all.”
“I knew that I’d get some blood tests, that I’d have blood tests at any time, so I took the supplements because I didn’t know. I told you, I took the blame, I committed a mistake, ok, I got it, but I think it was extremely unfair to punish me like that.”
Machida also explained that he was given no cause for concern after reporting the supplements he had taken to USADA officials. Instead of telling him that he’d taken a supplement that contained a banned substance, they simply wrote down what he’d reported and left. It wasn’t until the days leading up to the fight that he learned he’d consumed an item on their banned list.
“They didn’t say nothing,” he said. “They wrote everything I just said, but I didn’t know. So in the week of the fight, I was in Florida for the fight, I was relaxed, so happy to be back to [fighting], and Ed [Soares] told me’ Lyoto, something happened. Donna Marcolini wants to talk to you.’ I said, ‘what could have happened here,’ because I didn’t know.”
“I was very stressed [when they told me], because I never imagined it could happen in my career. I have my principles that I was taught by my father. It’s based on honor and integrity, and suddenly I was exposed to the world and now everyone thinks Lyoto is doping. It was very hard for me.”
Despite this unfortunate development, and his resulting suspension, however, Machida closed out his interview with Helwani by assuring that he plans on fighting again when he’s able – even though he’ll be 39 years old by that time.
“100%, it’s my life,” he said of his career. “I want to compete again. I think I have a lot of things to do, a lot of things to give to my fans still. So I’ll be back stronger, I’ll be back better.”
Do you believe that Machida took this banned substance unknowingly? Do you think the punishment he received is too severe? Sound off, PENN Nation!