The UFC issued a one year suspension to Middleweight Chris Leben for failing a drug screening after his bout with Mark Munoz this past November in Birmingham, England. This is the second time that Leben has failed a drug screening after a fight in England. The reason this has the potential to become a cautionary tale is that his first test was failed for a steroid, in other words, a “Performance Enhancer”. This second test was failed due to the presence of 2 different painkillers, which tend to be more a drug of abuse.
Dana White announced the suspension in a statement this past Monday, November 28th. White also offered the support of the UFC to Chris in the year to come, stating they want him to get better and recover from the problems he faces.
Leben was contrite in his statements as well, not looking to deny the usage. He talked about not being able to succeed at fighting or in his life unless he made some changes.
I looked it up, oxycodone apparently stays in your system for 3 to 5 days. So this means that Leben was popping the pills after his arrival in England, when he was surrounded by the atmosphere of the UFC and the fight. Chris also has two DUI arrests in his past. Their are signs of a substance abuse problem that might has been developing over recent years.
Chris is a guy with a reputation, and he has earned his spot in the UFC pecking order by putting up some memorable fights. He is not UFC royalty, like a Chuck Liddell, but Leben has some star power.
Didn’t anyone see any other signs that Leben might be having a problem? Sadly it is a lot more likely that people ignored the signs, either because of the uncertainty of how to approach Leben, or because they flat out didn’t care. And aside from what could be hundreds of people possibly looking the other way (UFC staff, friends, training partners, coaches, family), there is the person or persons that got him the oxy.
Leben has started off on the right foot, admitting to his problems. He is young enough that he would still be in his early 30′s after a one year suspension. And I would like to see him back. Though I don’t think he will ever hoist the UFC belt in victory, he has a history of fighting wars.
I hope he spends the next year get his act together in a serious manner, so we can see a few more fights.