Johannesburg - On February 15, 2017, EFC
bantamweight champion Demarte Pena was rocked by test results conducted by the
South African Institute For Drug Free Sport (SAIDS), indicating that he had
consumed a banned substance prior to his title fight against then interim
bantamweight champion Irshaad Sayed.
After a lengthy
investigation and hearing, the final ruling, which has come with far-reaching
consequences, was handed down.
SAIDS has directed that the result of the fight
between Pena and Sayed be vacated.
now changes to a no contest. Pena remains champion and, as Irshaad Sayed effectively
did not lose the bout, he is reinstated as the interim bantamweight champion.
summary, the following was decided at the independent hearing conducted on May 25, 2017 by SAIDS, chaired by respected sports lawyer, Professor Steve
Pena was found guilty of inadvertent use of a
prohibited substance prior to his fight with Sayed.
It was acknowledged that Pena had not acted with
intent, significant fault or negligence, due to the fact that the banned
substances in question were traced to contaminated supplements. It was further
acknowledged that Pena had declared he was taking said substances, and that he
had checked that the ingredients listed did not contain any prohibited
substances before consumption.
In preparation for his hearing, Pena provided
detailed daily records of the supplement consumed, as well as laboratory
evidence showing the contaminated supplements contained the banned substances
An automatic consequence of the finding is that
the result of the fight between Pena and Sayed is annulled. This means that
Pena reverts to the status of bantamweight champion, and Sayed interim
Before the hearing the
minimum prescribed interim sanction was implemented against Pena, namely a
provisional suspension, which lasted for slightly more than three months. Due
to the finding by the panel of no intent, significant fault or negligence by
Pena, the suspension was dissolved at the conclusion of the hearing.
“SAIDS conducted a grueling and extremely thorough
hearing. Each case is determined on its own facts and EFC have nothing to do
with the decision of the independent panel,” stated EFC President Cairo
SAIDS abide by and follow the rules and
regulations of WADA internationally. EFC representatives were present at the
hearing and it is believed that fair and proper procedure was followed in
accordance with SAIDS and WADA.
Part of Pena’s statement which was submitted to the
hearing was as follows:
“I took advice from professionals and persons
with experience regarding sports supplementation and satisfied myself (through
internet searches and checking the product labels and package inserts) that the
supplements did not contain any prohibited substances. I took these supplements
and disclosed this fact to SAIDS… I have always followed the rules of
competition and live a healthy lifestyle. I have been tested throughout my MMA
career, on at least nine occasions (both in- and out of fight camp) and the
results have always shown that I do not violate any rules pertaining to
If any athlete tests positive to a banned
substance, the process it takes for SAIDS to make a final ruling is thorough.
Information shared with EFC during the time of investigations and hearings is
confidential and only under specific circumstances is it possible for the
information to be made public.
“We’ve been asked why the information
surrounding Pena’s case with SAIDS was not made public earlier, contrasted to
other cases in the past,” said Howarth.
“The answer is that Demarte was not
publicly scheduled to compete, therefore his case with SAIDS could stay
confidential as per SAIDS normal procedures. Further, because the investigation
was not yet complete and a ruling had not yet been made, we were under
obligation to let the SAIDS process run its course. In other cases athletes
have been publicly scheduled to compete at upcoming events, and it has
therefore been necessary to openly explain why the athletes were forced to be
removed from any coming bouts.”
“We respect and thank SAIDS for their
professionalism. Their investigation and handling of the hearing bodes well for
the sport of MMA,” said Howarth.
“South African athletes are in good hands and our
sport as a whole is getting the professionalism it deserves. It would have been
easy to jump to conclusions at any stage of this process, but appropriate
procedures have been followed ensuring a just outcome.”
“The issue of contaminated substances is one
that every professional athlete needs to navigate,” he concluded.
“This highlights the importance of athletes always knowing
exactly what they are ingesting.”
official SAIDS ruling can be found HERE
statement from Demarte Pena can be found HERE