Silva Pleads Innocence to Steroid Allegations

By Loretta Hunt Aug 21, 2008
EliteXC heavyweight champion Antonio Silva (Pictures) and his representatives have denied allegations that the 28-year-old Brazilian took steroids prior to his July 26 contest against Justin Eilers (Pictures), and they’re willing to fight to prove it.

On Thursday, the California State Athletic Commission released urinalysis results pointing the finger at the 6-foot-4, nearly 300-pound Brasilia native for Boldenone, an anabolic agent. Silva was immediately suspended for one year and fined $2,500, but may protest the disciplinary action and request a hearing before the commission –- something Silva’s manager, Alex Davis, plans to pursue without hesitation.

“It’s a false positive. He got tested positive for something he didn’t take,” said Davis from his home outside Rio de Janeiro. “I will not let my fighter sit back and be wronged like this. I just won’t.”

Silva was notified of the positive test result Wednesday via a phone call from the CSAC, though Davis said rumors of his fighter’s results had been circulating during a prolonged testing period, which included independent tests of two separate samples conducted by Quest Diagnostics and the World Anti-Doping Agency-approved Laboratoire De Controle Du Dopage in Montreal.

“I did not use the steroid Boldenone, or any other steroid of prohibited substance,” Silva wrote in a prepared statement distributed to “I don’t agree and never have agreed with the use of this kind of product in order to win, for this is cheating. I will go to the full extent of my power and the law to prove my innocence in this matter.”

In June 2007, Silva (11-1) was denied licensure in California when an abnormal brain scan of the athlete showed signs of a tumor. Silva -- who suffers from the chronic disease acromegaly, which causes enlargement of the extremities and face due to an overactive pituitary gland -- underwent surgery two months later to remove the tumor and has fought three times since.

Davis said Silva has taken legal nutritional supplements during his training, but that the use of steroids in light of his fighter’s medical condition could prove fatal.

“He can’t take stuff like that because he has acromegaly,” said Davis. “All of his hormone levels are a problem regularly, so he wouldn’t be able to for risk of his life.”

Boldenone is commonly utilized in veterinary practices, primarily for the treatment of horses. It is also prevalent in bodybuilding circles, where it is illegal. One of the more imposing figures in the division, Silva has cut weight in the past to make the 265-pound heavyweight limit.

Davis said himself and American Top Team, which has groomed Silva as a professional fighter since his arrival in the U.S. nearly two years ago, have already set the wheels in motion to hire a toxicologist and legal representation to shepherd Silva’s appeal.

Silva faces an uphill battle in California. In December 2007, former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk (Pictures)’s one-year suspension for nandrolone use was reduced to six months after a five-month appeals process fielded by world-renowned doping lawyer Howard Jacobs failed to clear the Minnesota wrestler of the charges.

Sherk was suspended by the CSAC following his successful July 2007 title defense over Hermes Franca (Pictures) at UFC 73 in Sacramento, Calif. Though the proceedings were criticized by the UFC and others for the CSAC’s inconsistent procedures both during Sherk’s sample collection and his subsequent hearings, Zuffa stripped Sherk of his title in the end.

Silva was the first-ever heavyweight champion crowned by the fledgling promotion following his second-round pummeling of Eilers on July 26. Silva's impressive showing capped off four wins for the heavy-handed competitor in EliteXC's cage, and Davis said the organization will not be quick to jump to conclusions.

“They’re being very fair. What they’re saying is they won’t strip him of his title until he’s proved guilty,” said Davis.

Jeremy Lappen, EliteXC's Head of Operations, refrained from comment, but said a public statement from the promotion would be forthcoming.