Troubled UFC middleweight fighter Chris Leben has been suspended from competition for a year after failing a drugs test following his loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 138 on November 5th.
Leben tested positive for both Oxycodone and Oxymorphine, two pain-killing drugs, during tests carried out by an independent testing agency on behalf of the UFC after the event in Birmingham, England.
This is not the first time Leben has failed a drug test – in fact he was also suspended the last time he fought in Birmingham back in October 2008, testing positive for Stanozolol on that occasion.
“I like Chris and I want him to do well, but based on his actions, he’s been suspended for one year,” UFC President Dana White said in a statement released today on UFC.com. “If he needs professional help, we are going to be there for him. We want to see him succeed not only in the Octagon, but in his personal life.”
Leben himself also commented on the situation and vowed to turn his life around during his time away from competing.
“I would like to make it known that I fully accept this suspension and apologize for embarrassing the UFC, my friends and family, and sport of mixed martial arts,” Leben said. “I’m learning that I’m my own worst enemy sometimes. I can’t succeed in the Octagon or in life behaving this way. I’ve got to make some real changes over the next year and I’m going to focus on getting my life and career back on track. Again, I’m sorry to the UFC and fans that’ve supported me since my days on The Ultimate Fighter.”
The 31 year-old has been something of a wild child since he first emerged to prominence in the sport via The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 where he memorably went on a drunken rampage, breaking two doors in the TUF house in the process.
In 2008 he was jailed in Oregon for 35 days for Driving Under the Influence, and late last year he was again arrested in Hawaii on suspicion of DUI and was later bailed.
Meanwhile, inside the Octagon it’s been a rollercoaster couple of years for “The Crippler”. At the start of 2010 he looked close to being cut from the promotion after a couple of losses, but he then went on a three fight winning streak that showed he still had a lot to offer. A TKO loss to Brian Stann early in 2011 brought a halt to that run, but he then bounced back with a 27 second KO win over Wanderlei Silva.
That set up a fight with Munoz, another leading contender at 185lbs in the headline attraction of this month’s UFC 138 event, but Munoz was unquestionably getting the better of the fight before it was stopped at the end of the second round due to a bad cut above his left eye.
Despite his troubles Leben has always been a likeable person and a fighter who’s provided many entertaining fights in the Octagon so we certainly hope he can get back on the right track.
Having said that, with the UFC growing ever more mainstream and striving for higher levels of professionalism in all areas, stories like this are the last thing they want and so this has to be Leben’s last lifeline.