Drug test pending, Franca given green light

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The Nevada State Athletic Commission today cleared lightweight Hermes Franca for the UFC's hastily assembled July 19 card at the Pearl in Las Vegas.

Franca was originally suspended last July by the California State Athletic Commission after a positive test for the steroid Drostanolone following UFC 73 in Sacramento, Calif. His suspension in that state -- effectively a suspension from fighting in all states with major athletic commissions -- ended on the 5th of this month.

Franca now must prove he is drug free in a test for performance enhancers to be administered this Friday. The test was originally scheduled for next Monday, but according to NSAC executive director Keith Kizer, that makes it more unlikely that he will be cleared in time for his fight.

"We should be able to get it in on time," Kizer said. "If not, he won't be fighting."

The administrative procedure is similar to the one undergone by his former opponent, Sean Sherk, who was recently re-licensed for his fight against B.J. Penn in May.

Franca originally submitted a letter that he had released to the CSAC and media following his positive test, one claiming that he had taken the steroids to rehabilitate an injured ankle. Before the commission today, it appears he changed his tune.

"Every doctor in the world that talked about it said that steroids have nothing to do with helping you fix an injured ankle," Kizer continued. "I was glad to see in the commission meeting today that he finally came clean as to why he used the steroids."

According to Kizer, Franca kept it simple, admitting he made a mistake and promised never to do it again.

Assuming Franca passes his test, he will face standout Frankie Edgar. Edgar's three-fight winning streak was snapped in April after he lost a unanimous decision to Gray Maynard.

It will have been slightly more than one year since Franca last stepped inside the Octagon.