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VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Kamil Roy
Apparently, these fighters never heard the adage "cheaters never prosper." For this list, we'll be looking at instances when boxers and MMA fighters were caught red-handed cheating. Our countdown of fighters who got caught cheating includes Alistair Overeem, Canelo Alvarez, Jon Jones, T.J. Dillashaw, and more!

#20: Alistair Overeem

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Judging by the physique he’s maintained throughout his career, one can rightfully wonder whether Alistair Overeem has taken performancing-enhancing drugs or not. Those questions have merit. Prior to a Heavyweight title bout against then champion Junior Dos Santos in 2012, the Reem failed a random drug test, despite previously claiming that he was drug free and would pass his tests. He was suspended 9 months and his bout with Dos Santos was scrapped. More recently, a unanimous decision win against Badr Hari in 2022 at a GLORY kickboxing event was changed to a No-Contest after he tested positive for a banned substance in a B-sample. He has since been suspended for 1 year by GLORY.

#19: Hector Lombard

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Known for his knockout power, this MMA fighter found himself in hot water after defeating Josh Burkman at UFC 182. Originally awarded a unanimous decision victory for Lombard, it was soon overturned after it was announced he tested positive for an anabolic steroid in a test he took after the fight. Subsequently, the fight’s outcome was ruled a no-contest, he was handed a one-year suspension and his bout scheduled against Rory Macdonald at UFC 186 was scrapped. Although he stated he didn’t knowingly put the substance in his body, surprisingly, unlike other fighters on this list, Lombard did not appeal and ultimately accepted his punishment.

#18: Canelo Alvarez

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Set to take on Gennady Golovkin in a rematch, the whole bout had to be scrapped after Saul “Canelo” Alvarez failed two drug tests. He had tested positive for clenbuterol, a performance-enhancing drug, twice back in February 2018. Claiming innocence, he placed the blame on meat he ate which he believed was contaminated, but it was to no avail as he still received a six-month suspension. Even after Alvarez and his team submitted DNA evidence, the suspension remained intact. Although he is considered one of boxing’s biggest stars, and while it is never frequently mentioned, the incident is not a good look for his legacy.

#17: Jarrell Miller

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Despite being undefeated in 26 fights, Jarrell Miller had shown a frequent inability to submit clean drug tests prior to fights. His most notable infraction took place prior to his bout against Anthony Joshua in 2019. Miller had failed 3 different drug tests and was replaced by Andy Ruiz Jr. Miller was also at one point supposed to fight Jerry Forrest, but Miller would yet again test positive for a banned substance and the bout was ultimately scrapped. Despite these mishaps, Miller has reiterated he has never knowingly taken performance enhancing drugs.

#16: Sean Sherk

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In 2006, Sean “The Muscle Shark” Sherk made a splash after moving to the lightweight division, capturing UFC gold at UFC 64 against Kenny Florian. However, his reign atop the division would be brief. Despite winning his first title defense at UFC 73 against Hermes França, Sherk would test positive for an anabolic steroid, nandrolone, and was found to have unusually elevated levels of testosterone. Although an appeal by Sherk reduced his initial suspension from 12 to 6 months, he was stripped of his title. Even though Sherk would eventually return to competition and get an immediate title shot against new champion B.J. Penn at UFC 84, Sherk would go on to lose the bout by way of TKO.

#15: Thiago Silva

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Like many MMA fighters on this list, this light heavyweight got his career off to an electrifying start, winning his first 13 fights. Unfortunately, Silva’s troubles began after UFC 125. His unanimous win over Brandon Vera was overturned after it was discovered Silva provided a false urine sample. Silva admitted his wrongdoing and the fight was changed to a no-contest. His next fight scheduled at UFC 130 against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was scrapped, he was suspended for a year and he forfeited a part of the earnings from his win. Even upon returning, Silva would go on to fail yet another drug test at another UFC event and was handed a 6 month suspension. Ultimately, his run in the UFC would come to an end after disturbing video footage of him was released in 2014.

#14: Dillian Whyte

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This boxer has failed a number of drug tests over his career. The first in 2012 saw him spend over 2 years on the sidelines, the second in 2019 came back as inconclusive and Whyte was able to return to the ring in a matter of months. Recently, as he was set to face Anthony Joshua on August 12th, irregularities were found in a pre-fight drug screening. The bout was scratched and, as of the time of writing, Whyte is seeking to prove his innocence and clear his name.

#13: Wanderlei Silva

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Known for his exciting fighting style and hard-hitting knockout power, Brazil’s Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva would soon develop a much less admirable reputation in 2014. Prior to his scheduled fight at UFC 174, a representative from the Nevada State Athletic Commission appeared at Silva’s gym in Las Vegas to conduct a random drug test. Upon realizing who the person was, Silva asked the rep if he could speak to his manager. Only, he didn’t go speak to his manager; he actually fled the scene! It was later revealed during Silva’s hearing that he left because he didn’t want the person to find out he was taking diuretics, a banned substance which is frequently used as a means to conceal the presence of performance enhancing drugs in one’s system. Not only was his scheduled bout canceled, but he was also fined $70,000 and banned from competing for 3 years.

#12: Abner Mares

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On August 13, 2011, a very controversial boxing match took place between Abner Mares and Joseph Agbeko. Despite winning the bout, his performance raised many eyebrows due the number of low blows Mares hit Agbeko with. It’s estimated he hit him with between 15 to 20 low blows. Many were surprised at how referee Russell Mora did not penalize Mares’ for conduct. Despite a number of warnings, the referee did not deduct a single point from Mares. Upon reviewing the fight, several promoters and the Nevada State Athletic Commission called for an immediate rematch, which Mares went on to win.

#11: Jon Jones

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At one point, he was the UFC’s biggest superstar. Then it all went downhill. During his reign as the light-heavyweight champion, Jones was a controversial figure as a result of his conduct outside of the octagon, and the following incident is just one part of that. After his rematch with rival Daniel Cormier at UFC 214, which saw him reclaim the light-heavyweight title, it was discovered that he had tested positive for the steroid turinabol. The match result was changed to a no-contest and he was subsequently handed a 15-month suspension by USADA. This, along with having to withdraw from UFC 200 previously as a result of a failed drug test, tarnished Jones’ reputation. Although a minor change in USADA’s rules would have cleared Jones today, it certainly leaves a large blemish on his otherwise outstanding career.

#10: Georges Saint-Pierre

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Alright, so to be clear, this wasn’t Georges Saint-Pierre’s fault, but this is more so on his cornerman, Phil Nurse. In between rounds during his title fight against B.J. Penn at UFC 94, Nurse could be seen applying vaseline on GSP’s face and then his back, the latter of which is not permitted. Watching the fight, one could think that Penn clearly was experiencing some difficulty getting any hold or control over Saint-Pierre from the bottom. After losing the fight, Penn and his team requested that the Nevada State Athletic Commision conduct an investigation on the matter. Dubbed “Greasegate”, an investigation and hearing took place, but nothing came from either, as the commission came to the conclusion that the application of vaseline didn’t impact the outcome of the fight.

#9: Shane Mosley

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Back in 2007, a report from Sports Illustrated included several unnamed sources going on record saying that boxer Shane Mosley used performance enhancing drugs leading up to his fight against Oscar De La Hoya, which he won. In response, Mosley went on to admit that he indeed took steroids, but did so unknowingly (even though there’s footage of him stating otherwise). Mosley’s take is that he was told by his trainer, Darryl Hudson, to take supplements from Victor Conte, founder and head of Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative. Hudson urged Mosley to take these supplements, which were steroids, which used under the pseudonyms “the cream” and “the clear”. Conte and several others however claimed that Mosley knew that he was taking steroids. Mosley launched a defamation suit against Conte and his company, which was dismissed.

#8: Anderson Silva

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Anderson Silva is considered one of the greatest to ever step into the octagon, but his legacy will forever be tainted because of this incident. After his unanimous decision victory over Nick Diaz in 2015, it was revealed that Silva had tested positive for anabolic steroids during a random out of competition test which took place prior to the bout with Diaz, and then tested positive yet again during another test for an illegal substance. Silva denied having taken any performance enhancing drugs. His defense? That the samples for his test were tainted after using viagra. The Nevada State Athletic Commision didn’t buy it, and he was suspended a year, fined $380K and his win against Diaz was changed to a no-contest.

#7: Brock Lesnar

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This pro-wrestler turned mma fighter certainly left his mark in the UFC, but his last fight will not be so fondly remembered. After taking an almost 5-year hiatus from the sport, Lesnar would make his anticipated return to the octagon at UFC 200 against Mark Hunt. Lesnar dominated the majority of the fight en route to a unanimous decision victory. However, it was revealed that Lesnar had failed two pre-fight drug tests and tested positive for clomiphene, an anti-estrogen agent that can raise testosterone levels and counter effects of steroid use. Prohibited by the UFC’s Anti-Doping policy, Lesnar was suspended a year and was slapped a fine of $250,000 (which he reportedly has yet to pay).

#6: Jake LaMotta

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LaMotta was a fan favorite in boxing, and is often best known for having been portrayed by actor Robert De Niro in the Martin Scorcese classic “Raging Bull”. What some people might not know about LaMotta however, was that he once threw away a match. Prior to facing Billy Fox in 1947, he cut a deal with the mafia where in exchange for purposefully losing the fight, they would set him up for a title shot. LaMotta did as he was told and took a dive in the fourth round. After an investigation into his victory, and when LaMotta would later admit wrongdoing, he was suspended indefinitely by the New York State Athletic Commision. And he only wound up getting his title shot 10 fights later.

#5: Mike Kyle

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Having earned himself a reputation as one of the dirtiest fighters of all time, Mike Kyle isn’t doing himself any favors. He’s done everything just about everything you shouldn’t do, but one moment is most often notoriously remembered. At WEC 20 back in 2006, Kyle threw an illegal soccer kick against his opponent Brian Olsen. Olsen was knocked out and to make matters even worse, he wouldn’t stop punching Olsen even though he was unconscious to the point where not 1, but 2 refs had to pull him off. He was immediately disqualified and suspended indefinitely.

#4: Antonio Margarito

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Prior to his boxing match against the aforementioned Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito was getting his hands wrapped. Mosley’s trainer, Naazim Richardson, noticed a plaster-like substance being used over the fighter’s hands. Richardson requested that Margarito’s hands be rewrapped, and they were. Although Maragrito went on to lose the fight, a hearing was still held to deal with the matter which took place prior to the fight. Despite claiming ignorance, both Margarito and the trainer responsible for wrapping the fighter’s hands, Javier Capetillo, had their boxing licenses revoked for one year for the incident.

#3: T.J. Dillashaw

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Aiming to become the third person to become a champion in two weight divisions, UFC Bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw challenged then flyweight champion Henry Cejudo in a superfight back in 2019, which he lost the fight by TKO in just 30 seconds. But the worst was yet to come for Dillashaw. Months later, it was revealed that he tested positive for recombinant human erythropoietin, also known as EPO, a hormone which increases red blood cell production in the body. While Dillashaw claimed the purpose for resorting to this tactic came after becoming anemic due to a drastic weight cut to 125 pounds, he was stripped of his title and accepted a 2 year ban from the sport of MMA, his legacy and reign in the bantamweight division forever tarnished.

#2: Vitor Belfort

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This knockout artist was caught testing positive for the illegal substance 4-Hydroxytestosterone after his fight with Dan Henderson at Pride 32. Claiming he was unaware that the supplement he took contained the substance, he was still handed a 9-month suspension and fined $10,000. Although he’s been only caught once, this hasn’t stopped pundits from claiming Belfort has been using performance enhancing drugs throughout his entire career. Since the UFC banned the use of testosterone replacement therapy in 2014, many have pointed to Belfort’s change in physique. According to a report from Deadspin, a test for his fight against then light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 152 revealed he had high elevated levels of testosterone and that the UFC ignored it.The UFC has denied his claim.

#1: Luis Resto

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On the night of June 16, 1983, boxers Billy Ray Collins and Luis Resto squared off at Madison Square Garden. For 10 rounds, they went back and forth, but Collins looked practically unrecognizable after having taken significant damage. When the match concluded, Resto went to shake the hands of Collins’ corner. One of the cornermen, who was Collins’ father, noticed something odd with Resto’s gloves. He realized there was a lack of padding, and it was later confirmed by a referee. The New York State Athletic Commission went on to suspend Resto and his trainer, Carlos Lewis, and both men even served prison sentences as well. Resto would never box again. Sadly, Billy Ray Collins eye was damaged beyond repair and was told he would never fight again, and would suffer from depression before he passed away in a car accident.

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