UFC lightweight contender Franca has tested positive to Drostanolone. As a result, he has incurred a $2,500 fine and a suspension through July 5, 2008.
The following is a statement from Franca (bolded items are my own doing):
In the next few days, the results from the California Commission will be released. The tests will show that I had a "banned substance" in my system.
I would like to apologize to my fans, the UFC, my students and family. I offer only an explanation and not an excuse. I made a decision during a difficult time in my training for the fight that I regret.
About 8 weeks out from the fight, I badly injured my ankle during a training session. For the following week I had rested it, rehabbed it and tried to work around the injury. It was obvious that I could not train as required.
I contacted the UFC and explained my injury and how I could not possibly train to the level I thought I would need in order to be properly prepared for my fight. I asked the UFC if we could push the fight out to the following UFC with the chance that it could happen. They explained that they could not do that and that the card had been set and it isnt as easy as just moving around a fight. I totally understood their position. They asked me to keep them informed should I not be able to fight.
I had not fought for 5 months. Fighting is literally how I put food on my wife and childs table and how I pay my bills. As a fighter though, even at this level, I live a simple life and I literally live from fight to fight. Not getting a paycheck for another few months and losing my chance to fight Sean for the title was overpowering. Fighting is the life I chose and I love it.
As a lightweight fighter, our purses are comparatively small. The public sees the payouts. As lightweights, we do not pull down the money anything near the bigger guys. Its just the way it is. I think Sean fought and defended his title for less than $30,000. Its no ones fault, its just the market. I love the sport, I love the people in the sport.
At this point I was desperate and needed anything I could to get my injury as close to healing as possible and be able to recover from the daily training regimen I was going through. I made the shortsighted choice to hopefully accelerate the healing process and allow me to keep training. Under the pressure of literally not being able to pay next months bills I made a choice. I had to fight and did whatever I could to do so.
I hope my fans, students, the UFC and the public accept my sincere apology. Whatever punishment is dictated by the California Athletic Commission I will understand. I would like to get through this very difficult time and the times ahead and get back to fighting. All the best to my fans and much thanks to my family and friends that continue to support me during these times.
This sickens me.
His excuse - I'm sorry - explanation is absurd. If his ankle was that bad, and if the UFC really told him to keep them posted on its condition, it's inexcusable that he'd employ a banned substance for any reason.
What's worse is that we're now put in a position where we should feel sorry that he is strapped for cash and couldn't afford to delay his pay day.
It's like when Tony Soprano lamented to his wife Carmela when his Russian girlfriend threatened him with suicide after he called it off between them. "She's depressed, the poor thing." Carmela responded aptly: "So I'm supposed to feel sorry...for a whore...who f**ks you?!?!
Franca, by his own admission, acted out of desperation and subsequently embarrassed himself and others. I remember him falling to his knees after he beat my man Spencer Fisher and begging that Dana give him a title shot. Dana held up his end of the bargain, but Franca did not.
And what if Franca had beaten Sherk? He'd have been stripped of his ill-gotten title, fined, and embarrassed. Furthermore, he had to have known that he'd be tested, right?
Hermes Franca was handed an opportunity that most fighters only dream of, and his stupidity could have cost him the opportunity to be a UFC world champion.