‘I was harmed by others’ – After 1-year USADA ban, UFC welterweight says he has ‘clean conscience’ upon return

Elizeu Zaleski still blames his lab for the contamination that led to his USADA ban.

By: Lucas Rezende | 4 months ago
‘I was harmed by others’ – After 1-year USADA ban, UFC welterweight says he has ‘clean conscience’ upon return
MMA: UFC Fight Night-Sao Paulo-Zaleski dos Santos vs Vendramini, Sep 22, 2018 Sao Paulo, Brazil Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos red gloves defeats Luigi Vendramini blue gloves during UFC Fight Night at Ginasio do Ibirapuera. Mandatory Credit: Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports, 22.09.2018 23:04:25, 11302577, UFC Fight Night, MMA PUBLICATIONxINxGERxSUIxAUTxONLY Copyright: xJasonxdaxSilvax 11302577

Flashy UFC welterweight Elizeu Zaleski is finally returning to the Octagon next weekend after being away from action for almost two years. Though injuries also played a factor in the Brazilian’s long layoff, the truth is that he also received a one-year suspension due to a failed drug test last year.

Elizeu Zaleski failed a USADA test in 2022

Back in April 2022, Zaleski received a one-year suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) just days prior to his fight against Mounir Lazzez at UFC on ESPN 34. The punishment happened after ‘Capoeira’ tested positive for banned substance Ostarine, which is used for treating muscle wasting and osteoporosis. However, ever since he failed his exam, the Brazilian blames the laboratory who handled his samples for the contamination.

Having completed the suspension, Zaleski was cleared to return and received a new opponent almost immediately after he came back. Capoeira is now expected to take on Abubakar Nurmagomedov at this Saturday’s UFC Vegas 74 and that’s all that he intends to focus on for the time being. Especially since the Brazilian feels no guilt or shame due to his failed test.

“I do this because I love it.” Zaleski told Ag Fight in a recent interview. “Nobody forced me into fighting. I do it because I like it, for my personal satisfaction. When this (failed USADA test) happened, my conscience was clean. I knew it wasn’t my problem. In fact, it was proven to be a tainted supplement (that caused it). Cross contamination. My conscience is clean. My legacy will not be tarnished because of this. I was harmed by others. God is bigger than everything, he will judge me. What’s important now is my next step. This fight.”

Money was sparse during Zaleski’s suspension

While Zaleski feels no guilt over the failed drug test and the USADA ban, that does not mean he did not have a rough time sitting out for over a year because of the suspension. Even though the Brazilian had saved some money for a rainy day, he still needed to spend more than planned, which would have left Capoeira in a dire situation if it were not for the help of his sponsors.

“I won’t lie. The financial part was pretty complicated. You always plan for a certain amount of time. I had some money saved. But because I had some investments being made, I had to do it and that do them and that broke my budget. I really have to thank my sponsors, because they were the ones who supported me and still do to this day. That’s how I was able to support myself through training camps. They’ve given me this support so I can continue to be a high-performance athlete.”

Catch Zaleski’s return at UFC Vegas 74

In his last outing, Elizeu Zaleski (23-7) defeated Benoit Saint-Denis via unanimous decision, back in October 2021. The victory came right after the 36-year-old’s most recent loss, a split decision defeat to Muslim Salikhov in July 2020.

Now, Zaleski is expected to come back against Abubakar Nurmagomedov at UFC Vegas 74, at the UFC Apex. The June 3 card is scheduled to be headlined by a flyweight bout between Kai Kara-France and Amir Albazi.

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About the author
Lucas Rezende
Lucas Rezende

Lucas Rezende is a Brazilian journalist and writer from Belem, Para. He has been covering MMA since 2012 and contributing with Bloody Elbow since March 2015. When not writing, Lucas also teaches English. In his free time, he enjoys reading, slapping the bass guitar and traveling.

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