UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk, who successfully defended his belt on July 7th at UFC 73, has tested positive for the banned steroid Nandrolone according to published reports. Sherk has been fined $2,500, the maximum amount allowed in California. He has also been suspended from competition in California until July 6, 2008.

Nandrolone levels in the typical person are approximately 2 ng/ml in an average person and up to 6 ng/ml in a professional athlete. Sherk’s A and B samples showed 12 ng/ml of Nandrolone Metabolite, the detectable version of the steroid.

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The challenger for his title, Hermes Franca, has also tested positive for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone. According to reports Franca injured his ankle several months before the fight and turned to steroids to speed up the healing process. Franca was fined $2,500 and suspended from competition in California until July 5, 2008.

The California State Athletic Comission, the body who sanctioned the event, requires all fighters be tested for banned substances. With more reports forthcoming Mark Bocek, Frank Edgar, Chris Lytle, Jason Gilliam, Diego Saraiva, Jorge Gurgel, Stephan Bonnar, and Mike Nickels have all passed the required drug tests.

Both fighters can appeal the results of the tests within 30 days. Sean Sherk’s camp has stated they are likely to appeal while Franca’s admission of guilt essentially rules out an appeal for the fighter meaning his fine and suspension are likely to stand.

Two previous UFC champions have also tested positive for banned substances. Josh Barnett defeated Randy Couture at UFC 36 to claim the UFC Heavyweight Championship but was stripped of the title after he tested positive for steroids. Tim Sylvia won the heavyweight title from Gan McGee at UFC 44 but post-fight drug testing revealed anabolic steroids. After admitting guilt Sylvia too lost the title.

If Sean Sherk’s positive test stands it is expected that the UFC will strip him of the lightweight title.