Wanderlei Silva's fate remains undecided following Tuesday's NAC hearing. | Mike Sloan/Sherdog.com
As it drew near, Tuesday’s Nevada Athletic Commission meeting was shaping up to something of a major event.
As he has done on numerous occasions with the Pride Fighting Championships and the UFC, Wanderlei Silva was the headliner. It was a far less comfortable environment for “The Axe Murderer” than the cage or ring.
Silva said very little during the hearing, which was streamed via UFC Fight Pass. Instead, it was attorney Ross Goodman who spoke on behalf of the fighter, revealing that the Brazilian intentionally eluded a random, out-of-competition drug test on May 24 out of fear that he would test positive for a diuretic being used to treat a wrist injury suffered in February.
“Back in back in February of this year, at ‘The Ultimate Fighter Brazil,’ [Silva] injured his wrist,” Goodman said. “He was prescribed by the UFC doctors anti-inflammatories. He was scheduled to fight on a May card; early in May he was x-rayed and confirmed that he had in fact fractured his right wrist. The UFC then moved that fight approximately six weeks to the July 5 card.
“Mr. Silva regretfully at that time began taking diuretics. He was taking diuretics for the sole purpose of minimizing the inflammation -- to decrease the water retention. He now realizes that he should have submitted to the drug test. He was surprised. It was the first time in his career where out of competition somebody showed up at his gym. That doesn’t negate or minimize what Mr. Silva did. He’s here to apologize to the commission, and he was concerned that the diuretics would show up on the sample.”
Prior to Goodman’s statement, the NAC had Jim Guernsey, an independent sample collector with approximately 34 years of experience, to detail the events of May 24, when he arrived at Silva’s gym to retrieve a blood and urine specimen from the fighter.
As it turned out, Chael Sonnen’s claim that Silva literally ran away from a drug test wasn’t that far from the truth. After unsuccessfully trying to track down Silva via telephone and at his home, Guernsey found the UFC veteran at his Las Vegas gym. However, Guernsey would not find the cooperation he was seeking.
“I explained that the Nevada Athletic Commission had asked me to get a blood and urine sample from him. He said OK and was finishing eating and visiting with the people around him... After they finished, he asked me if he could talk to his manager or trainer,” said Guernsey, who provided his account from detailed notes he took that day. “I asked him if this person was at the gym and he said yes. I told him that was fine and gave him a little space. I think he had just finished working out.
“He walked up to the front desk and I followed a little way behind him,” Guernsey continued. “He went into an office in the middle of the gym and came out after just a few seconds. He walked back to the front counter and then walked past the office toward the back of the gym and went around the corner to the right. I casually followed behind him, and when I turned around the corner I realized there was an exit there and a bathroom. I didn’t see him anywhere. I went into the bathroom and looked around and didn’t see him there ... I kept looking around for a few minutes, and I still couldn’t find him. I came to the conclusion that he left.”
Both Guernsey and NAC Executive Director Bob Bennett would eventually speak to Silva’s wife that day in hopes of alerting the fighter that he needed to provide a blood and urine sample. The message did not get through, however, and ultimately Silva was removed from the UFC 175 card completely. He was originally supposed to face rival “TUF: Brazil 3” coach Chael Sonnen on July 5.
“Between Mr. Guernsey and myself, we made every possible concerted effort to have Mr. Silva administer a blood and urine specimen to us, which he did not,” Bennett said.
Through Goodman, Silva didn’t dispute any of the claims offered by either Guernsey or Bennett. Instead, the goal appeared to be damage control regarding any further suspicion directed toward Silva.
“Wanderlei Silva has been fighting for 20 years, has over 50 professional fights and has never failed a drug test. He’s complied with all the rules and regulations of every licensing body,” Goodman said.
“The diuretics and the anti-inflammatories were taken for the sole purpose of trying to rehab his fractured wrist. There should be no inference or suggestion that Mr. Silva was trying to mask or hide any PEDs or TRTs.”
Tuesday’s hearing was strictly for information-gathering purposes. As a result, Silva did not face any immediate disciplinary action. However, it was suggested near the end of the hearing that a disciplinary complaint will likely be the NAC’s next course of action.
“The intent was to find out and gather information,” said NAC Chairman Francisco Aguilar. “The commission will move forward with this drug program, we will take the information we gathered today into consideration and make a determination as to what our next step will be.”
Earlier, Sonnen received a temporary suspension from the NAC, with a full hearing to be scheduled at a later date. Sonnen retired last week after testing positive for banned substances Anastrozole and Clomiphene. The Oregon native was to have faced Vitor Belfort in place of Silva at UFC 175 before the test results were revealed.
Belfort was also initially scheduled to appear before the commission in regards to a failed February drug test. However, the cancellation of the UFC 175 bout -- as well as a full NAC slate -- prompted Belfort’s removal from the agenda.