Fifth-ranked heavyweight Ben Rothwell was notified by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition test. UFC officials broke the news on Tuesday.
Rothwell (36-10) was expected to face former champion Fabricio Werdum at UFC 211 on May 13 in Dallas, Texas. The two were originally slated to fight at UFC 203 in September, but Rothwell pulled out of the bout due to a knee injury.
On Feb. 7, Rothwell was administered an out-of-competition test by USADA. The results of that test came back positive to a banned substance. It’s unknown what substance “Big Ben” tested positive to.
Rothwell released a statement via Facebook following the revelation of his possible anti-doping violation. The 35-year-old urged fans to not jump to conclusions until all the facts come to light.
“With the recent news received from USADA I would like to take this time to let everyone know, I have been under the care of a physician and trying to overcome a medical illness. I would appreciate the chance to show that I have not cheated nor did I intended to cheat. Please hold your opinions of me until all the facts are out. I appreciate everyone’s support as I go through the process with USADA,” he wrote.
Rothwell had a four-fight winning streak snapped in his last outing in April 2016, losing to former champion Junior dos Santos by unanimous decision. Werdum is currently ranked as the top heavyweight contender.
“USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case. It is important to note that, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full fair legal review process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed,” read a statement provided by the UFC.
“Consistent with all previous potential anti-doping violations, additional information or UFC statements will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.”