Thursday, April 7, 2011 | 2:16 p.m.
Thiago Silva’s attempt to cheat on a drug test following his victory at UFC 125 was both calculated and an act of desperation.
After Silva defeated Brandon Vera by unanimous decision Jan. 1 in a light heavyweight match, the 28-year-old Brazilian went into the locker rooms at the MGM Grand and placed a tube of fake urine he purchased online down the shorts he wore in the fight. Minutes later, while loosely being supervised by a Nevada State Athletic Commission inspector, Silva walked into a bathroom stall and emptied the fake urine into the plastic cup used for testing.
He flushed the tube down the toilet, handed the inspector the cup of synthetic urine and crossed his fingers that he had deceived the system.
Silva told this story Thursday during a commission disciplinary hearing, saying he used steroids twice in the two months leading up to his New Year’s Day fight with hopes of recovering from a severely injured back.
The commission showed some leniency in its punishment, changing the result to a no-contest, making him forfeit 25 percent of his purse and $20,000 of his $55,000 win bonus, and suspending him for one-year from applying for a fighting license.
Silva, who appeared at the meeting at the Grant Sawyer Building downtown, waived his right to have an attorney represent him and admitted he tried to cheat. Nursing three ruptured discs in his back, Silva (14-2-1) said he had steroids injected into his spine 45 days and 30 days before the fight.
“I had my reasons ,” Silva told commissioners. “My back was very bad a for a couple of months and I had not fought in a year. I was broke. I have family (that) depends on my money. I was desperate.”
In 2007, when mixed martial artist Kevin Randleman was caught trying to fabricate a urine test, the commission ruled he had to forfeit $5,000 of his $40,000 purse and gave him a one-year ban from applying for a license.
Vera initially was dumped by the UFC from its stable of fighters, but later reinstated after Silva’s admission of steroid use.
Commissioners discussed taking all of Silva’s win-bonus and 25 percent of his purse. However, they gave him credit for being forthright late in the process and took into consideration their ruling on Randleman.
“I would commend the fighter for taking the effort to expedite his hearing, to come on his own and admit the guilt,” commissioner Francisco Aguilar said. “He should be commended as a fighter for taking that effort and facing his responsibilities.”
Keith Kizer, the commission’s executive director, suggested the one-year license ban begin today. He initially sent Silva a letter Feb. 7 saying their was a problem with his drug test and informing him a sample would be tested by a second lab.
But Silva waited to respond to Kizer’s communication, likely hoping for a lab-testing mishap, Kizer said.
“He waited until the (second sample) was tested at the end of March, I guess hoping the lab would mess it up and he would get off scot-free. It didn’t happen that way.
“I am very, I guess, displeased that on Feb. 8 I didn’t get a phone call from Mr. Silva saying, “Hey, you got me.’ To act like he (confessed) right away is a gross overstatement of the facts.”
But the commissioners elected to remain consistent with their ruling in the Randleman case and told Silva he could apply Jan. 2, 2012. He will also have to pass a drug test before a license is issued.
The situation, where Silva was able to fake a urine test with an inspector nearby, could eventually lead to changes in the testing procedure. Some inspectors aren’t as thorough in their job because of the social distractions of fight night.
Silva told commissioners he suspected others have altered drug testing. That was an eye-opener for commissioners, whose top priority is to guarantee a safe and fair fight.
“Had our inspectors been doing the job they are hired to do, this would have never happened,” Aguilar said. “We have to make sure we have inspectors in that room who are willing to forgo the social aspect of a fight and be there to do a job.”
Added Chairman Bill Brady, “If our inspectors would have been doing their jobs accurately and to the letter of the law, this would have been caught at the time. I think it will make us a better commission.”