Gilbert Melendez receives two-year USADA suspension for positive test after UFC release
Gilbert Melendez has been served a suspension for an anti-doping violation, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced Monday.
The former Strikeforce lightweight champion was given a two-year suspension by the UFC’s anti-doping partner after he tested positive for GHRP-6 and its metabolites GHRP-6(2-5)-OH and GHRP-6(2-6)-OH, which stems from a urine sample collected in an out-of-competition test Oct. 16, 2019.
GHRP-6, also known as growth hormone-releasing hexapeptide, is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.
Melendez (22-8) was unable identify the source of the prohibited substance but did challenge USADA’s jurisdiction to conduct the test as his UFC contract had officially been terminated on Oct. 12 – four days prior to the collection of his urine.
However, Melendez wasn’t notified until Nov. 6 of his UFC release, and USADA didn’t receive confirmation to remove Melendez from its testing pool until Dec. 5. According to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, USADA has jurisdiction of testing athletes until notified of removal from the testing pool by the UFC.
USADA said the “UFC typically provides immediate notification” of athlete’s removal from the testing pool, but that wasn’t the case with Melendez.
Melendez received the letter for his UFC release on Nov. 6 in an e-mail from UFC’s Tracy Long, which states: “I apologize for the delay in sending this letter. I have been traveling and someone from my team must have inadvertently filed it before I was able to send it.”
An independent arbitrator deemed that USADA did have jurisdiction to both conduct the test and allege an anti-doping policy violation in the event of a positive sample, as they were not notified of Melendez’s termination of contract and removal from the testing pool.
The suspension is retroactive from Nov. 1, 2019, making him eligible to return in November 2021.
Melendez was released from the UFC after going 1-6 in the promotion. The 38-year-old most recently competed against Arnold Allen in July 2019. He lost via unanimous decision, extending his losing skid to five.
Although Melendez is no longer with the UFC, athletic commissions in the U.S. typically honor USADA suspensions. Melendez hasn’t been active in a year but hasn’t announced any intention to retire from MMA.
Melendez is considered one of the best 155-pound fighters of his time, having defended the Strikeforce lightweight title four times from 2010 to 2012. Melendez holds notable victories over Jorge Masvidal, Josh Thomson, Diego Sanchez, Clay Guida, and Shinya Aoki.
Melendez challenged then-UFC champ Benson Henderson for the title in 2013, losing a decision many scored in his favor.