The soap opera that is the MMA career of Alistair Overeem took yet another twist Wednesday afternoon when the Nevada State Athletic Commission announced the heavyweight had tested positive for increased levels of testosterone.
As the top contender, Overeem is scheduled to face UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos on May 26 in the main event of UFC 146. But his positive test likely puts that fight in jeopardy. According to an e-mail from Keith Kizer, executive director of the NSAC, Overeem "will need to appear before the Commission if he seeks licensure."
Overeem can request a second sample be tested. If that sample were to come back negative, his chances of receiving a license likely would increase. Kizer told HeavyMMA on Wednesday that Overeem has been informed of his positive test, but that the NSAC has "not received any feedback or request from him or his camp" in terms of what the fighter’s next move might be.
In December, Overeem had to appear before the NSAC in order to get a license to face Brock Lesnar in the main event of UFC 141. He was granted a conditional license at that hearing with the understanding that he would submit a fresh urine sample within 72 hours, take another test upon arriving in the United States for the fight and pass two random drug tests requested by the NSAC within six months following the Lesnar fight.
Overeem’s license application was brought to question at that time because he failed to give a mandatory random sample the month before the fight. The follow-up requests from the NSAC took days to get sorted out, and when Overeem did submit a sample it was a blood test, not a urine test as requested. But once all was said and done, Overeem appeared to have satisfied the commission enough to get his conditional license, and he beat Lesnar with a first-round TKO to earn his shot against dos Santos.
But last week, at a March 27 pre-fight press conference in Las Vegas for UFC 146 featuring six of the heavyweights on the main card, all six fighters were given random tests. And according to Kizer, only Overeem failed his test. According to Kizer, Overeem’s testosterone levels were in excess of 10:1, which is a ratio measurement of testosterone to epitestosterone. The NSAC’s legal maximum is 6:1, though many other state commissions have limits of 4:1. The average male, in theory, produces a T/E level of 1:1.
According to the NSAC, the other five fighters who were tested, and passed, were the other five who appeared at the press conference with UFC president Dana White last week: dos Santos, co-main event heavyweights Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez and Roy Nelson and Antonio Silva. Of those five, only Silva has tested positive before. He was flagged in California for a positive steroids test in July 2008 and was fined and suspended for a year, though he fought six months later in Japan.
Though elevated testosterone levels are not an automatic for use of an illegal performance enhancing drug, the United States Anti-Doping Agency sees elevated testosterone levels with the possibility that there "may be an indicator of use of a prohibited substance."
There was no official word from the UFC or president Dana White on what the promotion’s plan would be if indeed Overeem is not licensed to fight dos Santos. The co-main event between Mir and Velasquez was to determine the next top contender to face the winner of dos Santos-Overeem. Velasquez has not fought since losing the title to dos Santos in November. Mir is on a three-fight winning streak. And Lesnar, who lost to Overeem in December, retired from MMA after that fight and on Monday started what is believed to be a one-year run in the WWE.
Dos Santos’ management team issued a statement on Twitter early Wednesday evening, saying the matter was in the hands of the NSAC: "The UFC has made no announcement regarding (dos Santos’) fight. We have no comment, this matter falls solely to NV Commission & UFC."