UFC middleweight Yoel Romero, 38, failed a Performance Enhancing Drug test in December, and was suspended by USADA, the UFC’s third party testing service. However, USADA has a process to contest suspensions through an independent arbitrator, and Romero plans to avail himself of that. His team argues that he took the PEDs inadvertently, via a contaminated dietary supplement.
The fighter and former Olympic silver medalist in wrestling had been on track for a title shot, following a seven-fight win streak in the UFC, most recently an uninspired split decision over Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.
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Sources said that Romero’s team and USADA discussed a deal for a nine-month suspension for the fighter, but Romero preferred to go to arbitration. The typical USADA anti-doping violation suspension is two years, sources said. The arbitrator can issue a penalty anywhere from a public warning to the two-year suspension.
The filing fee for a USADA arbitration case is $2,700, though Romero may request a waiver or reduction of the filing fee for “good cause on the basis of financial hardship,” per the UFC’s policy with USADA. Romero is responsible for paying his own travel. The UFC will pay for the cost of an arbitrator or arbitrators, the policy states. The arbitrator or arbitrators will come from McLaren Global Sport Solutions.
It’s unclear at this time when the arbitration hearing will take place.