Yair Rodriguez Issued 6-Month USADA Suspension for Whereabouts Violations

By: Jay Pettry
Dec 3, 2020

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A prominent Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight contender will be out of action until early 2021.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced on Thursday that Yair Rodriguez (13-2, 1 NC) has been suspended for six months after three Whereabouts violations. USADA requires that every fighter on the UFC roster notify them when they relocate or travel, and should the agency come to test a fighter only to find no one there, they get a Whereabouts failure marked. Three Whereabouts failures within one year flags the fighter as if they tested positive, and USADA responds accordingly.

USADA claimed that none of his violations were “suspicious” or that he was trying to deceive the agency, so he was eligible to get his suspension reduced to six months. The six-month suspension is effective Sept. 8, so “El Pantera” will be allowed to compete again starting in March 2021.

Rodriguez is not the first fighter of note to encounter the Whereabouts policy through USADA, as fighters like Donald Cerrone and Nick Diaz have run afoul of this in the past. Diaz was suspended for one year after three such violations.

According to USADA, fighters are required to submit a Whereabouts filing each quarter, with deadlines in December, March, June and September. Additionally, when a fighter substantially changes their situation, meaning if they travel or relocate for an extended period, they are required to notify the agency. If an athlete does receive Whereabouts failures, they are allowed to challenge the decision with an independent review panel as long as they do so within 14 days of the third failure.

Rodriguez last competed in Oct. 2019, when he captured a spirited decision over Jeremy Stephens. The win extended his unbeaten streak to three, with a “Fight of the Year” and all-time great knockout of Chan Sung Jung starting the stretch with a 4:59 no-look elbow knockout. A no contest against Stephens from an eye poke in 15 seconds led to a rematch a month later. Since making his promotional debut in 2014, Rodriguez has competed 10 times. The fighter from Mexico never set foot in the cage in 2020, as a broken ankle kept him out of a match with Zabit Magomedsharipov in August.

USADA’s statement regarding Rodriguez’ suspension reads as follows:

”USADA announced today that Yair Rodriguez, of Chihuahua, Mexico, has accepted a six-month sanction for a violation of the UFC® Anti-Doping Policy resulting from three Whereabouts Failures during a 12-month period.

“Like all UFC athletes, Rodriguez, 28, is a member of the UFC Registered Testing Pool and is therefore subject to certain Whereabouts responsibilities, which allow him to be located for testing. Accurate Whereabouts information is a crucial component of an effective out-of-competition testing program because it enables anti-doping organizations to conduct no-notice sample collections, which helps maintain effective doping deterrence and detection.

“Rodriguez failed to update his Whereabouts information and was unavailable for testing at locations provided in his Whereabouts Filings on three occasions. He accrued a Whereabouts Failure in each of the first three quarters of 2020. The accumulation of three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period constitutes a policy violation under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

“Rodriguez was eligible for a reduction in the period of ineligibility because his conduct did not raise suspicion that he was trying to avoid being available for testing. He received reductions based on his degree of fault and for his Full and Complete Cooperation.

“Rodriguez’s six-month period of ineligibility began on September 8, 2020, the date on which his third Whereabouts Failure was declared against him.”

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