No. 5 ranked UFC heavyweight Ben Rothwell is the latest fighter to be flagged by USADA for a potential anti-doping policy violation. The result stems from an out of competition test taken last month and his scheduled bout against former champ Fabricio Werdum at UFC 211 in May is now in jeopardy and most likely is not going to happen.
UFC released the following statement:
“The UFC organization was formally notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Ben Rothwell of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on February 6, 2017.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case. It is important to note that, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full fair legal review process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed.
Consistent with all previous potential anti-doping violations, additional information or UFC statements will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”
Rothwell has responded and is claiming that he has been under the supervision of a physician and is trying to overcome a medical illness. This is the same type of defense Cris Cyborg used after her USADA policy violation and after an investigation she was cleared of all wrongdoing.
Rothwell posted the following statement on social media:
“With the recent news received from USADA I would like to take this time to let everyone know, I have been under the care of a physician and trying to overcome a medical illness. I would appreciate the chance to show that I have not cheated nor did I intended to cheat. Please hold your opinions of me until all the facts are out. I appreciate everyone’s support as I go through the process with usada.”
Rothwell tested positive for elevated testosterone levels back in 2013 and was suspended by the UFC for nine months. He had been undergoing TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy) and was given a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) at the time, but his levels were too high.
Now in the post-TRT USADA era there is no more TUE protocol in place. Whether Rothwell will be able to prove, like Cyborg, that he was flagged due to medication he’s using to treat a legitimate medical condition while under the care of a physician, we will have to wait for the investigative process to play out. In the meantime, Rothwell asks that we withhold judgment.
It looked as though Rothwell was on his way to a title shot after scoring consecutive stoppage victories over Brandon Vera, Alistair Overeem, Matt Mitrione and Josh Barnett, but an April 2016 decision loss to Junior Dos Santos derailed that train. The 35-year-old Wisconsin native hasn’t fought since.