Affliction held a conference call on Wednesday afternoon with the media to discuss Josh Barnett’s positive test for a banned substance, which has resulted in his removal from the promotion’s August 1 “Trilogy” main event against Fedor Emelianenko, and their hunt for a replacement to face Emelianenko at the pay-per-view event.
On the call, Affliction’s Tom Atencio said the promotion was in talks with 3 fighters (reported to be Brett Rogers, Vitor Belfort, and Ricardo Arona) to replace Barnett and square off with Fedor, but said nothing was official and that talks were ongoing. He dismissed reports that a contract was in place with Belfort, saying nothing’s official until he announces the matchup.
Asked what substance Barnett tested positive for, Atencio, who called the news a “complete surprise” and a “disappointment”, directed questions to the California State Athletic Commission, saying he only learned of the positive test yesterday and was not told of the specific drug, other than it’s a banned substance.
Atencio said that a “B sample” from Barnett, taken at the same time as the first test, was being tested to confirm the positive result, but that the promotion is proceeding as though it will be upheld. Barnett is expected to appeal the failed drug test if it is upheld.
Since news of Barnett’s withdrawal from the card broke this morning, some questioned whether Fedor and his management, who have the ability to approve and decline any new opponent, would turn down some of the possible opponents who were under consideration to replace Barnett. Atencio says that Fedor is open to fighting anyone and wouldn’t back down from a fight, clearing the way for Affliction to announce a matchup as soon as a contract is reached.
Atencio made it clear that Affliction is looking to put on the best fight possible, and is negotiating with multiple fighters in hopes of putting on a fight that fans want to watch.
[Pictured: Tom Atencio]