James Irvin fails drug test ahead of fight

Updated: March 2, 2011, 9:26 PM ET
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

Shark Fights promotions announced Wednesday it has pulled a light heavyweight bout between James Irvin and Houston Alexander from its March 11 card due to a positive drug test submitted by Irvin prior to a Dec. 2 fight in California.

According to a release from the California State Athletic Commission, Irvin tested positive for the banned substance epitrenbolone metabolite trenbolone, an anabolic steroid typically used to increase appetite and muscle growth among livestock.

Irvin now faces a likely one-year suspension from the commission, which would expire Dec. 3. He has the right to an appeal.

Should Irvin successfully prove himself innocent or get the suspension reduced, Shark Fights president Brent Medley is hopeful the Alexander fight will still happen at a later date.

"Supposedly, he's going to appeal it," Medley said. "[The Commission] said it's a standard one-year, but [Irvin] gets to state his case. In California, they've been known to reduce it. I don't know enough about it to say if it's going to get dropped or not.

"We're going to be optimistic and hope for six months. If he gets six months, he's already basically served three, so we'd probably be looking to makeup the fight in early-to-mid summer."

Medley also informed ESPN.com a replacement bout is already in place and the March 11 event will continue as scheduled.

Irvin (15-8) was released by the UFC last August following a first-round submission loss to Igor Pokrajac.

In March 2008, Irvin received a nine-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission after failing a drug test following a first-round knockout loss to Anderson Silva. He tested positive for the painkillers methadone and oxymorphone.

Brett Okamoto covers mixed martial arts for ESPN.com.