Santos appealing steroid suspension, Strikeforce future uncertain
Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos has begun the process to appeal a one-year suspension handed down by the California State Athletic Commission on Jan. 6 for alleged steroid use, her personal manager confirmed to SI.com.
Santos’ manager, who asked not to be identified by name, said a response letter was mailed to the CSAC on Monday requesting a hearing in front of the seven-member commission.
The CSAC suspended the Strikeforce 145-pound women’s champion after a pre-fight urinalysis came back positive for Stanzolol metabolites following Santos’ dominant 16-second victory over Hiroko Yamanaka on Dec. 17. As it stands, Santos will be eligible to appear before the CSAC for license reinstatement on Dec. 16. Santos was also ordered to pay a $2,500 fine and the fight’s result was changed to a “No Decision” by the CSAC.
CSAC Executive Officer George Dodd said Santos’ appeal would likely be heard at an April 9 meeting with the venue to be determined.
Santos, 26, issued an apology and explanation for the positive drug test on Jan. 9, stating she’d taken a dietary supplement to assist her during a difficult weight cut and was assured the supplement was “safe and not prohibited from use in sports competition.”
Santos’ manager said its believed that the supplement in question was given to the fighter by a “trusted individual” in her camp to take orally, but that all the supplements she took are currently being reviewed.
In California, a handful of the 20-plus MMA fighters previously flagged have explained positive steroid tests through supplements they’ve taken, though none have received reduced suspensions. Overall, only two fighters, Sean Sherk and Phil Baroni in 2007, have had their suspensions reduced based on chain-of-custody issues the CSAC had with their urine samples. The CSAC has since refined its drug-testing protocol.
Santos (12-1, 1 NC) re-signed with Strikeforce for multiple fights over the summer after Zuffa, the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s parent company, acquired the rival promotion last March.
She has come under great public scrutiny since the performance-enhancing drug allegations were announced, as her Strikeforce reign has been the most dominant of any champion in the organization since she earned the inaugural title in 2009.
One of Santos’ most vocal critics has been 2008 Olympic judo bronze medalist Ronda Rousey, who will challenge Miesha Tate for Strikeforce’s 135-pound title on March 3 in Columbus, Ohio. Rousey said she’d planned to beat Tate, then move back up a division to challenge Santos for her title. Rousey has also called Santos’ six-year career into question.
“You don’t get to the point where the actual bone structure of your face starts to look like that unless you’ve been doing something hormonal or steroid [-based] for a very long time,” said Rousey, who estimates she’s been drug-tested 2,000 times during her judo career since age 14. “Those drugs do masculate you and it takes a long time for it to go as far as it did on her.”
Rousey said she would face Santos once she’s served her suspension and passes the required drug tests to be reinstated.
“Even if she did test clean, I doubt she would be clean,” said Rousey. “I’m sure she’d just change her cocktail around a bit.”
Santos’ manager wouldn’t comment on Rousey’s remarks. On Monday, Santos took to Twitter, posting a picture of a battered Gina Carano (who Santos beat in August 2009) with the message: “Next victim…Ronda! No mercy!”
However, the immediate future of Strikeforce’s featherweight division seems bleak; UFC President Dana White told ESPN Radio Las Vegas that Santos would be stripped of her title, which “pretty much kills the division.”
In the last two years, finding capable opponents to face Santos has been a challenge for Strikeforce matchmakers. The promotion has yet to announce her release from the company.
Santos’ manager said that, to his knowledge, there has been no correspondence between the promotion and his client regarding her status with Strikeforce. Santos did attend UFC 142 last Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, but didn’t speak to Zuffa officials.
Zuffa and Strikeforce representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for clarification regarding Santos’ contractual status.
Santos, who is currently in Brazil, will return to the U.S. on Feb. 20, according to her management.
“She’s at home in Curitiba, surrounded by family who supports her wholeheartedly,” said Santos’ manager. “She’s recalibrating and trying to put her head around the suspension.”
-- Loretta Hunt