On the surface, we see a former professional wrestler who is beloved by hardcore fight fans around the world. He's the polar opposite of the much-maligned Brock Lesnar despite coming from the exact same world as the current UFC heavyweight champion.
Fool me once, shame on you.
He's failed for steroids before, obviously. He beat
Barnett has proclaimed his innocence to the high heavens, but we aren't listening. Not really. The majority of those athletes who fail a steroid test claim they're innocent, but few are ever able to prove it.
Fool me twice, shame on me.
Barnett's second career failure may also end up causing the downfall of an entire fight promotion. Affliction wasn't exactly a profitable operation, and many journalists, myself included, didn't expect them to last past the August show.
But they had a real chance to draw buys from hardcore fans who have salivated over the chance to see
Without Barnett challenging Fedor, the show will have little interest for hardcore fans.
From a monetary standpoint,
The secondary point to come out of this story, and probably the most important, is that Barnett has likely been juicing for the majority of his career. His failed drug test in 2002 essentially banished him to Japan, where he took up a secondary career as a pro wrestler and likely took advantage of Japan's nonexistent drug testing program.
Yes, he's fought twice for Affliction in the United States, but on those cards he knew exactly when he would be tested and had ample time to prepare.
The out-of-competition testing now taking place in California and Nevada (with more states soon to follow) ensures that fighters are constantly on their toes, because they have zero idea when the next test is coming. You can't cycle in preparation for your next fight, because they could test you in the middle of your cycle.
My belief is that Josh Barnett will never participate in a regulated fight in the United States again.
He'll no doubt be suspended for a year, but I don't think you'll see him attempting to make a return to a major American promotion once his suspension is up. It's unfortunate, too, because he is a singular talent that would be a major addition for any promotion looking to bolster its heavyweight division.
Instead, it looks like the legacy of his career will be his use of steroids. Like
Fair or not, Barnett will be labeled as a cheat.
Fool me three times? It won't happen.