Mirko "Cro Cop" maintains that he announced his retirement due to a shoulder injury. | Piotr Pedziszewski/Sherdog.com
While Mirko Filipovic maintains that he retired due to injuries, not because of a pending U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspension, the heavyweight has admitted to taking growth hormone to help his ailing shoulder heal.
“When my shoulder problems started, basic methods like massages and icing the shoulder did not help. Then I went to blood plasma which went straight into my shoulder. With each blood plasma, I had a little mix of growth hormone to make my shoulder heal faster,” Filipovic wrote on his website Thursday.
“Growth hormones are on the list of banned substances. I knew that already. But there was no other way to save my shoulder -- at least in my mind -- without combining the blood plasma with growth hormones.”
The UFC released a statement on Wednesday announcing that “Cro Cop” had been provisionally suspended by USADA for a potential anti-doping violation. Filipovic is the first athlete within the promotion to have been caught by the organization. As a result, the Croatian’s co-headlining bout with Anthony Hamilton at UFC Fight Night in South Korea on Nov. 28 was officially canceled, although Filipovic already announced his withdrawal due to his injury.
“Unfortunately it turns out the only cure was a good break and rest. But a desperate man will try anything,” Filipovic wrote. “After six days of growth hormone and plasma injections, the USADA came to test me. I gave them my blood sample and urine samples and immediately told the UFC about the test. I also said that I had been taking blood plasma and growth hormone since nothing else was working.”
Filipovic is adamant, however, that the punishment had nothing to do with his decision to call it a career. He also maintains the growth hormone was only for healing purposes, not to gain an advantage in performance.
“It did not make me any better or increase my performance like testosterone or anabolic steroids would, but those are the rules. On Friday I was still telling them to not cancel the fight and that I wanted to fight because of all the hard work I had done,” he wrote. “I told them I will go to the USADA and tell them what is going on, and I was willing to get a lot of tests before and after the fight and everything would be OK.
“I was tested 5 different times up to this point in the UFC, the last time after the Gonzaga fight, and each time the test results were clear,” he continued. “Saturday training was the last one that I had with preparations in mind, which is when my shoulder ‘broke’ its limit. The MRI showed on Monday that it was a ruptured muscle and damaged tendons, filled with liquid.
“And that is when I broke and made my decision.”