ByAmy Kaplan, writer at
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Amy Kaplan

UFC's Lyoto Machida was given an 18-month suspension following a failed drug test earlier this year where Machida admitted to taking a banned substance, but claimed he was unaware the substance was banned.

He went as far as saying he was disappointed with USADA for failing to educate fighters like they should.

"When the UFC brought USADA in, I thought it was to instruct and educate all the fighters," Machida said on the MMA Hour. "But instead they came in to punish in a very unreasonable fashion.

USADA didn't take too kindly to that criticism.

USADA spokesperson Ryan Madden spoke with MMA Fighting this week to comment on Machida's claims in an attempt to educate and explain how and why he was punished in the way he was.

"It would have been really easy, all he has to do was visit," Madden said. "He also could have reached out to us directly. Either way, within minutes, he would have been able to determine that this product was not safe to use under the program."

As we saw in the case with Jon Jones, fighters are given a chance to dispute the sanctions and to go to a third party arbitrator.

"He never disputed the violation, so the only remaining issue to determine was the appropriate sanction," Madden said. "He then exercised his right to have that determination made by an independent arbitrator; however, on the eve of arbitration, he accepted the 18-month sanction that was being offered."

Machida claims he was threatened with a harsher punishment if he went to arbitration.

"Threatened? No. Of course that's not accurate," Madden said. "I think it's entirely possible that given Mr. Machida's degree of negligence -€” which in all honesty, is extremely high -€” his team decided that it was in his best interest to take the 18 months instead of risking the possibility of having a full two-year sanction be imposed by an arbitrator."

He says that punishment in cases like this hinder mostly on degree of fault and cases like Yoel Romero and Tim Means who got lesser punishments were due to them being able to prove lesser fault.

Machida will be eligible to compete again in October 2017.

Do you think his punishment was too harsh?


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