Chad Mendes has accepted his punishment from USADA without protest because he acknowledges that he broke the rules. However, the UFC featherweight is adamant that he has never knowingly taken performance enhancing drugs.
Last week, USADA announced that Mendes was suspended for two years after testing positive for GHRP-6 (Growth Hormone-Releasing Hexapeptide) in an out-of-competition urine test conducted on May 17. He is not eligible to return to UFC competition until June 10, 2018, two years from the date he was handed a provisional suspension.
Mendes does not deny taking the substance, but he claims that it was from a skin cream used to treat plaque psoriasis, a condition the fighter says he’s dealt with his entire life. The former featherweight title challenger addressed the situation for the first time in an interview on CBS Sacramento’s “The Drive.”
“I have it all over my shins, my scalp is covered in it, I have it all over my ears, I get a big patch of it on my side. I’ve had it since I can even remember. I remember as a little kid I’d try to get on the wrestling mat and people would be like, ‘You have a giant ringworm, I’m not wrestling you.’ It’s something I’ve been dealing with my entire life. Even people I’m trying to grapple with on the mat sometimes get freaked out because it gets super red and inflamed and it looks just God awful,” he said. They think it’s contagious and they don’t want to touch me. My scalp, I can’t wear a black shirt; it looks like it’s snowing all over my shoulders. It’s pretty disgusting and embarrassing. My fiancee hates it. It’s itchy all the damn time.”
Because of those issues, Mendes says he has been open to a number of solutions to try and fix the problem, which means he often accepts friendly suggestions without doing the proper research on the product he is using. That, Mendes says, ultimately led to him taking the banned substance.
“This was one of the cases that it had something in it that was on the USADA banned list. My situation was just kinda bad luck I feel,” Mendes said. “Ultimately I broke the rules. Did I use it? Of course. I didn’t try going to USADA and making up some B.S. story and trying to lie my way out of it. After testing positive I went back and looked through all my supplements....the only other thing I started using at the time was the lotion, so I started looking and reading all the ingredients, and sure enough on there, GHRP-6 was one of the damn ingredients.”
Mendes had already planned on taking 2016 off to focus on his fledgling business, Finz and Feathers, which he describes as a “celebrity hunt service.” While GHRP-6 is believed to enhance the effects of steroids when used in tandem, Mendes said he wasn’t training for anything in particular when he tested positive.
“USADA is coming to the sport, and they’ve been doing a great job. They’re catching guys that are taking steroids and getting in there and fighting while taking them. It’s something that I feel has needed to happen a long time ago,” Mendes said. “Everyone’s seeing what’s going on. It’s just crappy on my part. I didn’t have a fight scheduled, I wasn’t training. I told the media, I told the UFC after my last fight I was going to take this entire year off. Anyone that’s been following me would know that I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into my new business, and just putting all my time and energy into that.
“ I wouldn’t have any reason to try and take anything. I wasn’t preparing for anyone; I didn’t have anything on the horizon. That just wouldn’t make sense. All in all that doesn’t really matter, that was a substance that was on the banned list and I used it. It is what it is, I guess.”
While Mendes expects that his business will keep him busy during the suspension, he also plans on training and staying in shape. Still, “Money” will be 33 when he is eligible to return and he does admit that the subject of retirement has been broached.
“A lot of my family members have been asking me the same thing. I’m gonna be honest. It’s definitely something that’s crossed my mind, but I don’t know,” Mendes said. “I’ve been a competitor my entire life. I started wrestling at 5 years old and have competed all the way up til now. It’s what I know. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. Even if I were to say right now, ‘I’m done,’ I guarantee when 33 comes around and I’m getting that suspension taken off the competitiveness inside me is gonna take over and I’m gonna want to get back in there and fight.
“It is tough. This is a brutal sport and the older I get, the more I’m realizing it. I don’t want to be 60 years old in a wheelchair and not able to talk because I’m out chasing money getting punched in the face,” he continued. “But at the same time, I do love to compete and it’s something I absolutely love to do. We’ll see. I’ve just got to be smart.”