MMA middleweight Chris Leben suspended for nine months for positive drug test
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, November 3, 2008 9:55PM EST
Middleweight Chris (The Crippler) Leben has been suspended for nine months after testing positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol following his main event loss to Michael (The Count) Bisping at UFC 89 last month in Birmingham, England.
In addition to the suspension, the 28-year-old American must forfeit one-third of his purse.
The steroids suspension adds another chapter to an up-and-down mixed martial arts career. Leben (18-5) was a feel-good story at Birmingham, relishing the spotlight and the chance to talk about how he had turned his life around.
"I am obviously disappointed with Chris, who has made great strides getting his life back on track," UFC president Dana White was quoted on ufc.com. "To his credit, he has taken responsibility for his actions and is accepting the punishment that has been handed down."
A drunken, depressed Leben was hard to miss on Season 1 of "The Ultimate Fighter," nearly slicing off his knuckle as he punched his way through two doors during one stormy episode. But he appeared to have cleaned up his act since quitting drinking and moving to Hawaii 18 months ago.
The former boozy bad boy has spent time in jail, including time in a military prison after going AWL, and was forced to beg off a June date with Bisping because he was incarcerated in Oregon due to a parole violation for a drunk driving charge, cutting into training time for the UFC 85 show in London.
In Birmingham, Leben came across as a likable loose cannon.
"I'm glad you guys let me into your country," Leben cheerfully told the pre-fight news conference. "I was a little worried on the plane. But dude, we're here."
Questioned about his recent maturity, he pointed to changes inside and outside the cage -- "really realizing that `Hey I'm a professional athlete. What am I doing out at four in the morning on Tuesday?"'
The five-foot-11 Leben looked in great condition for Bisping.
"He's ripped up now," coach Matt Hume said before the fight. "He's in the best condition of his life. "
"Part of it is he quit drinking. Just taking the alcohol away makes a huge difference. And then when he took the alcohol away, he completely changed his diet as well."
On ufc.com, Leben apologized but did not explain the positive drug test.
"I've really done everything I can to turn my life around, and this is a huge setback for me, but it is something I will have to deal with. During my time off from fighting, I want to speak to kids about the dangers of using performance-enhancing agents and let them know it just doesn't get you ahead in life.
"Of course this is a hard hit for me monetarily, but more so this is embarrassing for me and for all of my fans. I apologize to the UFC and everyone who supported me in my fight in England. I hope to work through this and get back to fighting soon."
Attempts to reach Leben by phone were not immediately successful Monday.
Because there is no sporting body in Britain that looks after mixed martial arts, the UFC carried out its own drug tests. And it appears it is the one that issued the suspension.
Marc Ratner, the UFC vice-president who oversaw the testing in Birmingham, offered no further comment other than to say in an email Monday: "Our release says it all. The main event was tested and there was random testing of various fighters. Leben tested positive. We are against performance-enhancing and illegal drugs."
Asked whether he would honour the suspension, Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said in an email: "We will certainly review his test results before he (Leben) fights here again."