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UFC bantamweight Francisco Rivera banned four years by USADA

The United States Anti-Doping Agency has suspended UFC bantamweight Francisco Rivera for four years after the 36-year-old falsified evidence in a failed drug test case.

Rivera (11-7) tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol in July 2016. USADA initially informed Rivera it would seek a standard two-year suspension for that offense, but Rivera chose to enter arbitration on the case.

According to arbitration records, Rivera claimed he traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, in the days prior to his failed test, where he ingested contaminated meat. As evidence, he submitted a bank statement showing the purchase of gasoline in the area, a Costco receipt and witness statements.

After USADA expressed concerns over the legitimacy of the bank statements in May, the two parties agreed to meet at a bank near Rivera’s residence in California to obtain original records. Rivera did not attend the scheduled meeting, claiming he was in Mexico.

Shortly after, USADA added charges of aggravated circumstances to Rivera’s case and informed the fighter it would seek a four-year suspension. According to the report, Rivera admitted he was aware of the falsified evidence.

It is the second time that USADA has suspended a UFC athlete for four years, under a program that went into effect in 2015. Ricardo Abreu received a four-year suspension for multiple failed drug tests and subsequently retired.

Rivera has lost five of his past six bouts and hasn’t fought since July 2016. At the time of the failed test, he was training for a UFC bout he had accepted on short notice.

His suspension is retroactively dated to August 2016.

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