Gilbert Melendez handed two-year suspension, could fight outside of UFC

USADA on Monday announced that an independent arbitrator issued a decision that Gilbert Melendez should receive a two-year suspension after failing a drug test last October.

Melendez had contested USADA’s jurisdiction, as the UFC had released him from his contract a few days prior to him submitting the drug sample in question. Melendez was unaware of his release at the time and had not received a letter until weeks later.

The independent arbitrator ruled that Melendez was still beholden to his contract and therefore should not be allowed to fight in the UFC for two years. The arbitrator also ruled that no other fight promotion has to honor the suspension, since the UFC has a direct relationship with USADA.

Most fight promotions, however, honor suspensions issued by the various athletic commissions and USADA.

Melendez hasn’t fought since July 6, 2019, and has not yet indicated whether or not he will return to fighting.

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USADA’s statement on Gilbert Melendez arbitration and suspension

Colorado Springs, Colo. (July 27, 2020) – USADA announced today that an independent arbitrator has rendered a decision in the case of UFC athlete Gilbert Melendez, of Brisbane, Calif., and determined that Melendez should receive a two-year period of ineligibility for his anti-doping policy violation, precluding him from competing in any UFC bouts. This decision comes after the facts of the case were presented and argued.

Melendez, 38, tested positive for GHRP-6 and its metabolites GHRP-6(2-5)-OH and GHRP-6(2-6)-OH as the result of a urine sample collected out-of-competition on October 16, 2019. GHRP-6 is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances, and Mimetics, and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and UFC Prohibited List.

While Melendez did not contest the presence of GHRP-6 and its metabolites in his sample nor identify a source of the prohibited peptide, he did challenge USADA’s jurisdiction to conduct the test. The arbitrator concluded 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 was the case.

Melendez’s two-year period of ineligibility began on November 1, 2019, the date his provisional suspension was imposed. The jurisdictional and merits awards can be found here, along with all other UFC Anti-Doping Policy arbitral decisions.