Alycia Baumgardner fought Christina Linardatou on July 15, in Detroit, and won by unanimous decision over 12 rounds. The triumph had an asterisk added when on Wednesday, August 16 it was reported that Baumgardner, age 29, tested positive for a banned substance.
Dan Rafael Breaks News On Baumgardner Positive
Ex ESPNer Dan Rafael posted on X/Twitter that Baumgardner, age 29, “tested positive for banned steroid Mesterolone” off a urine test conducted three days before her scrap with Linardatou.
Rafael reported that results came back on August 10. That in itself appeared strange to some watchers, who wondered why testing results were released so long after the bout occurred. Baumgardner from the get-go protested that she was and is a clean athlete, and firmly stated her innocence.
She did so in a message posted to social media on August 16, maintaining her standing as a “clean athlete” is correct.
In the below message, Baumgardner said she was informed on August 12 that she tested positive for TWO substances, “mesterolone and methenolone acetate.” She declared at the time, “I would never put these substances in my body.”
Baumgardner followed up, and on August 31, posted to social a development: testing DID NOT show 2 substances. The one substance found: “mesterolone metabolite.”
She continued to work to clear her name.
Baumgardner submitted to hair follicle testing on October 18 to the Cardiff-based Cansford Laboratories Limited.
Testing came back negative for 17 banned substances.
The report also states that DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) was detected but was within the range of naturally occurring physiological levels of DHEA in hair for females. (DHEA) is a hormone produced by the body's adrenal glands.
Testing of hair is seen by some as being deficient, in and of itself, for ascertaining presence of chemicals, or ruling out that presence.
So, the report which Baumgardner cites as being “big news” on Nov. 20, as seen on her Instagram page, may or may not be that.
According to a lab report obtained by NY Fights, hair samples were collected from Alycia Baumgardner on October 18 and tested at Cansford Laboratories Limited, a non-World-Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Cardiff, Wales on October 24.
Tests were completed on October 26.
EIC NOTE: An earlier version of the story contained references to methenolone acetate. As Baumgardner is insistent that any mention of that substance is immaterial, this version of the story reflects her stance.
Hair Test Could Help Baumgardner
According to the report, the lab tested two to three centimeters of Baumgardner’s hair in the first sample and three to four centimeters of her hair in the second sample.
Per Atkinson Lewis, a company that conducts drug and alcohol testing for United Kingdom Family Courts, hair grows at an average rate of one centimeter per month. The number can vary from 0.7 cm to 1.5 cm per month, depending on the individual.
A six-centimeter-long section of head hair can provide a six-month drug use profile. According to the report, the first sample provided a testing period from July 13, the day after Alycia Baumgardner tested positive, to August 12, while the second and third editions ranged from June 13 to July 13.
Expert Weighs In
BALCO Laboratories Founder and current SNAC System CEO Victor Conte said that hair testing hasn't always been dependable for testing anabolic steroids.
“The longer the piece of hair, the longer back in time is the data,” Conte said to NYF. “My basic understanding is that each cm of hair growth is about one month. However, other body hair, like pubic hair, grows much slower.
“Hair testing can be unreliable sometimes for testing anabolic steroids and other anabolic agents like clenbuterol. Dark hair also has an affinity for certain substances like clenbuterol, and light hair would show less, like in the Saul [Canelo] Alvarez case. Hair is considered a confirmatory sample and not a screening sample. If urine is positive and hair negative, that is an issue.
“Hair does NOT detect recent exposure within the last two weeks or more, and if it were only a brief contamination type of exposure, then hair would not detect it. Anabolic steroids are a qualitative test and not a quantitative test.
Contamination A Possibility?
The silver lining for Alycia Baumgardner, who has been doing her thing on Matchroom cards, lies in her original drug test, maybe.
Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, a tennis player, was provisionally suspended in January 2021 after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) discovered that her out-of-competition urine sample contained a metabolite of mesterolone.
Yastremska denied any wrongdoing in a statement released on X/Twitter at the time.
“I have never used any performance-enhancing drugs or any prohibited substances,” the Ukrainian wrote. “I am astonished and under shock, particularly given that two weeks prior to this test, I tested negative at the WTA event in Linz.
“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine. Given that low concentration and my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event.”
After several failed appeals, Yastremska eventually succeeded after five months. An investigation by an independent tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme ruled no fault or negligence on Yastremska’s part.
Longtime strength and conditioning expert, Angel Heredia brought up the possibility of contamination. “[Could have been] crossed contamination from supplements or worse from underground testosterone, which will [possibly carry] steroid molecule residues,” he said.
Heredia has a strong knowledge base and history in the performance enhancement field.
Possible Suspension for Alycia Baumgardner?
This is Baumgardner’s first offense. She won’t likely receive a heavy penalty.
Canelo Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KOs) twice tested positive for clenbuterol, a banned performance-enhancing drug, in random urine tests conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, on February 17 and February 20, 2018.
He claimed the substance was in his system because he ate contaminated beef, which defenders said is a longstanding issue with athletes in Mexico, where farmers often add the substance to their cattle feed because it helps reduce fat and increase lean muscle mass.
Alvarez, then age 27, cooperated with the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s investigation and was rewarded with a six-month suspension.
The typical punishment from Nevada for a positive clenbuterol test is one year.
Dominican lightweight Michel Rivera (24-1, 14 KOs) was granted mercy earlier this year for his failed drug test.
Rivera tested positive for the banned diuretics hydrochlorothiazide and triamterene, which are prohibited by WADA, following a lopsided defeat against Frank Martin, of Indianapolis, (18-0, 12 KOs) last December 17 at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Of course, there’s heavyweight Jarrell Miller of Brooklyn (26-0-1, 22 KOs).
He failed three VADA tests, coming up positive for GW1516, EPO, and HGH (human growth hormone). His scheduled bout against then-undefeated three-belt heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua in 2019 was canceled.
Miller was issued only a six-month suspension by the WBA. He failed another test in July 2020 and was handed a two-year suspension.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has had more than enough of this sort of mess this year, for the record, too.
Baumgardner’s positive test falls under the jurisdiction of Michigan’s Unarmed Combat Commission (UCC). According to its internal rulebook, “If a contestant refuses to be tested or tests positive for the presence of these prohibited substances, including performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, that contestant is subject to penalties against their license.
“These penalties include the loss of a win and may also include a fine, the immediate suspension of their license in Michigan and in other jurisdictions, a long-term license suspension, or even license revocation for repeat offenses, under Unarmed Combat Rule 339.269. Event officials may also be asked to take a test at their own expense.”
Likely Outcome for Alycia Baumgardner?
Some possible outcomes: the presiding commission might consider overturning the Alycia Baumgardner win over Linardatou to a no-contest and issue a fine coupled with a light suspension.
Should they choose to go that route, it would be a significant blow given that Baumgardner’s only loss to date came to Linardatou back in July 2018, when the latter won an eight-round split decision at Davis Arena in Louisville, Kentucky, in an event that was promoted by former two-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.
Alycia Baumgardner may have some leverage, in that she was born in Ohio but has adopted Detroit as her hometown.
Alycia Baumgardner said she pushed for VADA testing for the Linardatou fight, but her request was denied. That has led to talk about accredited labs, and the system as a whole, which lacks defined structure and uniformity, and the need to streamline testing so transparency is more assured.
The UCC will make the final decision. It may factor in that Baumgardner has advocated for a clean sport in the past.
They may credit Alycia Baumgardner for going the extra mile to clear her name, interpreting her protestations of innocence as a marker of character. Or they may not be as impressed as Alycia is with the 22 page report which she's pitching as documentation testifying to her innocence.
Editor End Note: In such a matter, it’s best case scenario for people to allow dust to settle, and consider facts and science, as much as possible.
Baumgardner has no shortage of critics who believe she took a shortcut to success, and they’ll be inclined to dismiss her continuing efforts to combat the PED positive. She maintains heavily that she is innocent, though, and didn’t use any illegal helper.