Ahead of Strikeforce’s heavyweight tournament which begins next month Fedor Emelianenko’s management M-1 Global have raised the thorny issue of drugs testing.
“Two out of eight fighters in the tournament previously failed a drug test. Obviously, I’m talking about Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva,” M-1’s Vadim Finkelchtein stated at a press conference yesterday. “We want fair competition for everyone, so that’s why I will ask the commission to perform a strict drug testing. “Fedor is not using any kind of substance to enhance his performance and will be ready for any kind of testing. So if the commission decides to follow our suggestion, we’ll be ready.””
On the surface the request is fair enough, M-1 Global do have legitimate concerns.
“Our organization paid a heavy price after the cancellation of the fight between Josh Barnett and Fedor,” Finkelchtein continued. “We did a lot of promotion for this fight, which in the end did not take place. That’s why as a promoter and manager, I don’t want this to happen ever again.”
He is of course referring to a fight between Fedor and Barnett which was scheduled to take place at Affliction 3 in the sumer of 2009, but then had to be canceled at short notice after Barnett tested positive for steroids during a pre-fight drugs test.
The over-riding concern here however is whether M-1 Global will use this as an opportunity to try to have some kind of outside influence in the way the tournament progresses.
The Russian outfit already have well documented issues with another potential opponent in Fedor’s path during the Grand-Prix, Alistair Overeem for instance. Finkelchtein caused a stir last year by calling him a, “steroid bully,” and stated the Strikeforce champion had, “nothing to offer Fedor.”
That led to suspicions that M-1 Global were simply attempting to avoid a fight between the two, and concerns that a potential blockbuster fight could end up becoming MMA’s equivalent of the on-off saga between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao in the boxing world.
At the start of the year after Fedor signed a new deal with the promotion Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker boldly claimed that fans would now be seeing the Russian star fighting more often, but despite his apparent commitment to the upcoming tournament, Finkelchtein’s latest comments suggest it would be wise to proceed with caution and take one step at a time.