Independent Arbitrator Hands Francisco Rivera 4-Year Suspension for Anti-Doping Violation

By Tristen Critchfield Jan 19, 2018


Francisco Rivera has been suspended four years for an anti-doping violation stemming from an out-of-competition urine sample provided on July 23, 2016.

Rivera, who tested positive for the anabolic agent clenbuterol, elected to have an independent arbitrator resolve his anti-doping case. Ultimately, that lead to an increased sanction for Rivera, who was initially only facing a two-year ban.

The statement from USADA is as follows:

After a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Rivera’s case, USADA concluded that the clenbuterol levels detected in his sample were inconsistent with what could be expected from meat contamination. Furthermore, Rivera was unable to provide independently verifiable evidence to support his claim that he had traveled to Northern Mexico and ingested meat in the days leading up to the relevant sample collection. Thereafter, Rivera opted to have his case submitted to a neutral arbitrator for resolution.

In advance of the arbitration hearing, USADA’s ongoing investigation revealed that several pieces of evidence presented by Rivera to USADA and the arbitrator had been falsified to support the athlete’s claims that the substance had originated from contaminated meat in Mexico.

Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, deceitful or obstructive conduct intended to avoid the detection or adjudication of an anti-doping policy violation may be regarded as aggravating circumstances, which can lead to an increased period of ineligibility. In this case, the independent arbitrator concluded that Rivera’s conduct warranted an increase from the standard two-year period of ineligibility for a first offense, to the maximum four-year period of ineligibility due to aggravating circumstances.


Rivera’s suspension is retroactive to Aug. 17, 2016, the date when he was provisionally suspended. Because the violation occurred after Rivera competed at UFC 201 in Atlanta, the bantamweight is also subject to additional sanctions from the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission.

Rivera, 36, lost a unanimous verdict to Erik Perez at UFC 201, his third consecutive defeat within the Las Vegas based promotion. Rivera is 4-5 with one no contest in the UFC and 11-7 as a professional overall.

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