Former Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko is eligible to continue his MMA career after his steroid suspension was reduced from three years to one year.
The 32 year-old Shlemenko had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone following a second round knockout of Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 133 in Rebruary of 2015 and was subsequently hammered with an unprecedented three year suspension, in addition to a $10,000 fine and the fight being amended to a no-contest ruling, by the California State Athletic Commission.
Shlemenko’s legal team have now successfully argued in court that Shlemenko could only be given a maximum of a one-year suspension due to the fact that the paperwork that he’d originally been sent informing him of his drug test failure stated as such.
Having won the court case, Shlemenko is now elible to compete immediately as soon as he pays his fine (which has been halved), having already served a full year of his suspension, but he still needs to apply for a license to compete in California.
One potential spanner in the works however, is that Shlemenko has fought for M-1 Global in Russia twice during his suspension, winning their middleweight Grand Prix due to the fact that his home country doesn’t recognise his current ban.
Nevertheless, Shlemenko seems confident that he’ll be back competing in the Bellator cage soon.
“I am am very happy to have this chapter behind me and am grateful to the US Court system for finding error with the CSAC findings and allowing me to immediately resume my career in the US.
By ruling that I am immediately eligible to fight, the Court specifically found that the CSAC violated basic due process rights. I hope that CSAC will now listen to the Court, and start treating those who choose to fight in California more fairly. My only disappointment is that CSAC was not required to follow WADA rules and their own agreement with the UCLA test lab to test my B sample. This is of particular interest because CSAC claims to have sent more samples to UCLA than the lab actually received, showing further collection irregularities. I maintain my innocence and believe had a B sample been tested this process would not have been necessary and my victory over Melvin Manoff [sic] would had been validated.
Now it is time to look forward to resuming my career and regaining my Bellator belt.”
CSAC also released a statement in which they tried to paint the verdict in a positive light from where they were standing.
“The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) is pleased that the court upheld the doping violation of Alexander Shlemenko,” CSAC director Andy Foster wrote. “The court ruled that CSAC is not required to collect a ‘B’ sample in order to prove the presence of banned substances. In addition, the court found that Shlemenko failed to demonstrate that CSAC was biased during the proceedings against him. CSAC proved its case in court and demonstrated that Shlemenko violated Cal. Code of Regs. title 4, section 303(c) regarding a positive test for a banned substance. Consequently, Shlemenko had an unfair advantage in Bellator 133 over opponent Melvin Manhoef. Shlemenko has not paid the fines and does not currently possess an active license to fight in California.