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Cung Le Denies Using HGH, Questions UFC’s Independent Testing Methods Following Failed Drug Test

(Photo via Getty)

In the wake of Cung Le‘s year-long suspension for an excess level of Human Growth Hormone, the UFC middleweight and his manager Gary Ibarra have publicly denied that he’s a doper. Amazingly, Le isn’t blaming his failed drug test on inept doctors or tainted supplements. Instead, his team is arguing that the procedures used by the UFC’s independent testing were suspect, and not as reliable as the World Anti-Doping Agency‘s methods. Here’s the official statement that Le and Ibarra released yesterday:

Cung Le Statement Regarding Positive hGH Test at UFC Fight Night, Macao, China

San Francisco – October 2, 2014 Gary Ibarra, Cung Le’s manager, confirmed the UFC’s statement regarding the failed hGH test results of Cung Le collected post-fight at UFC Fight Night, Macau China on August 23rd. In response to the UFC’s recent statement regarding Cung’s drug test results, our client would like to release this statement.

“I was completed surprised at the results of my recent drug test. I was informed by the UFC that I passed my pre and post-fight drug test as well as the majority of the blood tests with the only abnormality being an elevated level of hGH being determined to be present. I tested negative for Anabolics, Stimulants, Diuretics, Masking Agents and my Testosterone levels were within World Anti- Doping Agency and Nevada State Athletic Commission Approved limits a total of three times over two urine tests and a blood test collected both before and after my fight which is what makes these hGH result so difficult for me to accept as correct. This has also caused me to call the testing procedures into question. I have been informed that there are many possible reasons for a level of hGH to exceed what is allowed unknowingly and my doctors are researching those possibilities, which may include a much more serious health concern. I have also been informed about the unreliability of the current hGH testing that exists and it’s high rate of inaccuracy. I want to reiterate to my fans and the fans of mixed martial arts everywhere that I did not take any performance enhancing drugs or anything that would cause my natural level of hGH to exceed normal levels. ”

Upon our independent review of the laboratory procedures when testing for PED’s, it has been clear that the possibilities for incorrect test results are many. We were informed that the laboratory was advised to use the WADA approved rules and procedures when conducting the testing that they administer, yet the lab in Hong Kong contracted to do the testing was not WADA approved, which was surprising since there was a WADA approved lab available in Beijing China. The blood sample was collected post-fight when the natural hGH levels are the least reliable as the body in an attempt to heal itself will naturally release more hGH, but even more of a concern is that the more reliable and WADA required test for hGH known as the IGF-1 test was never conducted on the sample. When we contacted the UFC to request that this more reliable test be conducted, we were informed that this was not possible as the lab only retained the sample for a week following the fight. WADA regulations require that samples are to be frozen and held for 10 Years, so that they can be retested in the event of a challenge. WADA rules state that when testing for hGH, the lab must use the “Isoform Differential Immunoassays” or “the Isoforms Test” a procedure which requires the IGF-1 test be performed. Again, this test was not performed by the lab and was could not subsequently be performed as the sample had been destroyed. The WADA regulations also state that:

“Since the total levels of hGH secreted into circulation vary naturally, are widely fluctuating over time and may be influenced by several factors not associated with doping, it is practically impossible to develop an anti-doping test based simply on the measurement of increased total hGH concentrations.”

There is a reason why hGH is still not tested for in all major sports leagues, the tests that exist are unreliable and present many opportunities for inaccuracy for a multitude of reasons. As was stated in the UFC’s press release in regards to our client, the results of the testing they conducted showed an elevated level of hGH, but as WADA states, the possibility for incorrect results are more than probable when testing for elevated levels of hGH especially when a non-WADA approved lab is used.

Cung Le has been a professional martial artist for over 20 years and has always conducted himself with honor showing a deep respect for his supporters and opponents, to have him made a public example based on suspect testing procedures conducted by a lab unfamiliar with the WADA rules is irresponsible. With the results of such testing having such a powerful effect on athletes reputations and futures we believe it would be better served to have future testing conducted by a WADA approved laboratory that knows and follows the established procedures to the letter so as to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. Cung is extremely disappointed at the results of the test and that the UFC would make such an unprecedented decision to extend his suspension from 9 to 12 months when the testing procedures remain unclear.


We’ll update you if Cung Le’s argument earns him a reduced sentence. It actually sounds like he’s got a decent case, and it raises a very important question: Is the UFC’s new push towards overseeing its own random drug testing credible or not? Shouldn’t the promotion rely on a truly independent testing body that 1) has no financial interest in who gets busted and when, and 2) uses the highest standards for testing?

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