The Nevada State Athletic Commission handed a one-year suspension to UFC light heavyweight Thiago Silva Thursday for altering his urine test prior to a unanimous decision win Jan. 1 over Brandon Vera.
Silva will be eligible to reapply for a license Jan. 2, 2012. In addition to the suspension, the result of the UFC 125 fight will be changed to a "no contest" and he will forfeit 25 percent of his purse and $20,000 of a $55,000 win bonus.
The Brazilian fighter appeared in front of the commission and admitted he received two steroid injections to the spine, one 45 days before the fight, and another 30 days before the fight. He said the injections were to help a lower-back injury he suffered last year.
"I want to apologize for what I did," Silva said. "I had my reasons. My back was very bad a couple months [before the fight] and I had not fought for one year. I was completely broke.
"I have family depend on my money. I was desperate."
Silva said he purchased fake urine from an online company, cleartest.com, two weeks before the UFC 125 event. On the day of the fight, he hid the sample inside his underwear.
The pre-fight drug test was conducted in a bathroom inside the fighter locker room at MGM Grand Garden Arena. With a NSAC inspector observing him from behind, Silva removed the vial from his shorts and transferred the liquid into the test tube. He disposed of the vial in the toilet.
When asked by the commission if Silva believes there are opportunities to cheat due to negligence by inspectors, he responded, "Yes. I believe."
He declined further comment to ESPN.com at the conclusion of the meeting.
Following the vote on Silva's punishment, commission member Francisco Aguilar placed partial blame for the circumstances on the process itself.
"I think as a commission we have to take responsibility for the way this process worked," Aguilar said. "Had our inspectors been doing the job they are hired to do, this would have never happened.
"I think we have to look at ourselves and make sure we have inspectors in that room who are willing to forgo the social aspect of a fight and be there to do a job."
Silva (15-2) recorded wins in his first 13 professional fights before suffering his first loss to Lyoto Machida at UFC 94. He is currently ranked No. 8 in ESPN.com's divisional rankings.
Brett Okamoto covers mixed martial arts for ESPN.com.