Raphael Pessoa Suspended 2 Years for Failed Drug Tests, Evasion of Sample Collection

By Tristen Critchfield May 3, 2021


UFC heavyweight competitor Raphael Pessoa has been suspended for two years by USADA for testing positive for a banned substance and evading sample collection.

The anti-doping organization announced the sanctions on Monday. Pessoa tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and its metabolites chlorothiazide and 4-amino-6-chloro-1,3-benzenedisulfonamide (ACB) in out-of-competition samples collected on Feb. 9, Feb. 15, Feb. 16 and March 4. HCTZ is listing in the category of diuretics and masking agents and is banned at all times under the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

Because Pessoa was not notified of the positive test until all four samples were collected, it is treated as a single violation. However, the 32-year-old Rio de Janeiro native previously tested positive for the same substance and completed a one-year suspension on March 4, 2020. Additionally, Pessoa evaded sample collection from USADA on Jan. 25 and Jan. 28. These two violations were also combined into a single second violation.

Pessoa’s period of ineligibility began on Feb. 9, 2021, the date his first positive sample was collected. He will not be able to return to UFC competition until February 2023.

Pessoa is 1-2 in UFC competition and last appeared at UFC on ESPN 14 in July 2020, when he suffered a technical knockout loss to Tanner Boser. “Bebezao” is 10-2 over the course of a professional career that began in 2016.

The full USADA statement is as follows:

USADA announced today that Nunes, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, has accepted a two-year sanction for his second violation of the UFC® Anti-Doping Policy involving his use and/or attempted use of a prohibited substance, positive tests for that substance, and evasion of sample collection. As required under the rules and described below, the three violations were combined into a single second violation. Pessoa Nunes’ received his first violation after testing positive for the same substance and served a one-year period of ineligibility beginning on March 4, 2020.

Pessoa Nunes, 32, tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and its metabolites chlorothiazide and 4-amino-6-chloro-1,3-benzenedisulfonamide (ACB) as the result of urine samples collected out-of-competition on February 9, 2021, February 15, 2021, February 16, 2021, and March 4, 2021. HCTZ is a Specified Substance in the class of Diuretics and Masking Agents and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and UFC Prohibited List. Because Pessoa Nunes was not yet notified of the positive tests until after all four samples were collected, they were treated as a single second violation.

The athlete also evaded sample collection on January 25, 2021 and January 28, 2021. Evading sample collection, or refusing or failing to submit to sample collection, without compelling justification is a doping violation under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. Pessoa Nunes had not been notified of the evasion violations until after his positive tests were reported. Therefore, the evasion violations were also combined into the single second violation.

Pessoa Nunes’ period of ineligibility began on February 9, 2021, the date his first positive sample was collected.


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