When Germaine de Ramanie beat Holly Holm in their controversial UFC 208 bout to become the first women’s featherweight champion, uncertainty loomed over the division. With no clear title contender in sight, fight fans wondered if the newly created division would fizzle out almost as soon as it began. On Friday, however, MMA fans got good news — Cris “Cyborg” Justino, the world’s top female featherweight, has been cleared to return to action.
Cyborg’s title hopes were put on hold for the last two months after she popped an out-of-competition drug test in December. The 31-year-old Brazilian maintained her innocence and vowed to clear her name.
On Friday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency cleared her use of spironolactone, a diuretic that can be used to mask the use of other drugs, including steroids.
“Upon notice of her positive test, Justino immediately identified a medication prescribed by her physician for the treatment of a common endocrine disorder as the source of the prohibited substance detected in her sample,” the USADA wrote in a statement released Friday night. “She also participated in multiple interviews with USADA’s investigative team and consented to USADA interviewing her physician as well.
“After a thorough investigation of the circumstances that preceded her positive test, which included a comprehensive review of Justino’s documented medical history, USADA accepted Justino’s explanation that her use of spironolactone began in late September, following her bout at UFC Fight Night Brasilia, and was in accordance with her physician’s recommendation for the treatment of a legitimate medical condition,” said USADA in a statement.
Justino said in December she uses the medication to prevent the development of ovarian cysts and hypertension connected to the potassium loss and “electrolyte hydroelectric imbalance” she said she suffered after beating Lina Lansberg on Sept. 24 at UFC Fight Night 95.
On Friday, USADA agreed Justino’s use of low doses of the spironolactone “would return the athlete to a normal state of health without providing a performance-enhancing benefit,” and approved a Therapeutic Use Exemption, or TUE, to be applied retroactively to when Justino began taking the medication.
Upon hearing of her clearance, Justino wrote on Instagram that she was “extremely happy” about USADA’s decision, adding, “I look forward to returning to the octagon as soon as possible, and proving that I am the Pound-for-Pound champion of (women’s) MMA.”
While her goal is to win the new UFC title, current champion de Randamie first wants a rematch with Holm, who has filed an appeal with the New York State Athletic Commission complaining of a couple of late hits de Randamie delivered after two round-ending bells.