WASHINGTON — Less than one week after setting the mixed martial arts world on fire with his high-profile win over Mark Hunt at UFC 200, professional wrestler and brawler Brock Lesnar has reportedly tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
According to a Friday announcement from UFC, Lesnar was informed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency of a “potential…violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collection on June 28.” UFC learned of the violation on Thursday night after the sample was tested by the UCLA Olympic Analytical Lab.
No other information on the test, or the substance detected were released at this time.
If Lesnar is confirmed to have violated the UFC’s performance drug standards, his return to UFC could be short-lived. Lesnar, training for a top spot at the WWE’s Summer Slam pay per view in August, made a surprise return to the UFC after a five-year hiatus that many assumed to be permanent. The one-time heavyweight champion enjoyed a mercurial rise in UFC during the late 2000s, but his career was derailed by injury and illness.
Lesnar returned to professional wrestling in 2012, where he has been an infrequent superstar with major appeal. It is unclear what effect, if any, a positive effect in UFC could have on his wrestling career.
The irony is that Lesnar competed in UFC 200 as a beneficiary of a positive drug test by Jon “Bones” Jones, who was scheduled to compete for the title against champion Daniel Cormier. When asked about his good fortune at the time of the announcement, Lesnar referred to Jones’ positive test as “unprofessional.”
UFC fighters are tested throughout the training process, which gave Lesnar a pereceived advantage in the lead-up to the fight. Hunt went so far as to accuse Lesnar of “juicing,” accusations that seemed baseless at the time. Lesnar will now have a secondary sample, collected at the same time, tested for discrepancies. He will also be permitted an appeals process.
If found guilty, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency recommends a two-year ban, but it will be up to the discretion off UFC.
Thanks in part to Lesnar-Hunt, UFC 200 was a ratings bonanza, with approximately 1.6 million pay per view sales, just short of the record from UFC 196. In the hours after the fight, UFC reached an agreement with a group headlined by WME-IMG, to sell itself for $4 billion. That is a record for the sale of any sports entity.
Part of the UFC’s success can be tied to its appeal among younger generations, funneling interest and dollars away from sports like boxing and football. The average UFC fan is estimated to be 37.8 years old, with nearly 45 percent of the fan base falling in the millennial generation.
Going into UFC 200, the international brand could claim broadcasts to 156 counties, in 29 different languages, with 1.1 billion households receiving UFC programming.