Yair Rodriguez is in hot water with the UFC’s anti-doping partner, though he has not tested positive for any banned substance.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has suspended Rodriguez, a popular featherweight fighter, for six months due to a whereabouts violation, USADA announced Thursday. Rodriguez is ineligible to compete until March 8, 2021, with his ineligibility beginning retroactively on Sept. 8, 2020.
Rodriguez had been targeted for an August fight with fellow top featherweight Zabit Magomedsharipov but withdrew because of an injury. The UFC was attempting to put together the anticipated Rodriguez vs. Magomedsharipov bout for next month, sources said, but had to scrap those plans because of Rodriguez’s suspension.
UFC fighters are required to fill out their location at all times in advance on a USADA smartphone app so that doping control officers know where to show up to administer random drug tests. If a fighter fails to fill out the whereabouts information or is not available when sample collectors arrive, he or she faces a whereabouts violation. If three violations occur over a 12-month span, that fighter could be suspended.
The typical whereabouts violation ban is 12 months, but Rodriguez got a reduced sanction because his actions did not raise any suspicion that he was attempting to avoid testing, per a release.
There has been only one other whereabouts suspension since USADA partnered with the UFC in 2015: Nick Diaz in 2018. Diaz was suspended one year, but the star fighter has been on sabbatical from competition since 2015, so it did not affect his fighting career.
Rodriguez (13-2) is ranked No. 7 in the world at featherweight by ESPN. The Mexico native has not fought since a unanimous-decision win over Jeremy Stephens in October 2019. Rodriguez, 28, has won two straight and been victorious in eight of his nine UFC fights overall.