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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal will not be appealing his failed steroid test with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, stemming from his January 7 fight with Lorenz Larkin. Appearing with his manager Mike Kogan on "The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani" at MMAFighting.com, Lawal placed the positive test result on an over-the-counter supplement he claimed he purchased in April of 2010 from Max Muscle in California.
The supplement in question, S-Mass Lean Gainer by Rock Solid, has been taken off the shelf as of 2011 due to the fact that it's essentially a pill-form version of Drostanolone, which was the steroid found by the NSAC in Lawal's drug test for the event.
Lawal claims ignorance on the supplement, still claiming he had never heard of Drostanolone, and didn't believe purchasing something over-the-counter would lead to this. It was a supplement he said he used sporadically for "rehab stuff," and didn't think it was an issue due to buying it legally, as it was recommended by a Max Muscle employee.
"When I went to Max Muscle, I figured you can't buy steroids at a Max Muscle. It's a chain store," he said. "That's like going to a grocery store and buying something illegal there. ...I guess that's the mistake I made. When I looked at the bottle, it just had a bunch of numbers on it. It had the ingredients. I didn't see anything that looked illegal on the bottle, to be honest with you."
"If Mo would have purchased this product in some back alley from some guy who happens to lift weights, the setting itself would probably warrant a lot more alarm than walking into a nutrition store," Kogan argued. "Not walking in there and saying, 'Hey do you guys sell any anabolic steroids?' But just walking in there and saying that he's looking for a supplement to help reinforce his muscle during light lifting and being recommended a substance. Also, in 2010 this product was not taken off the shelves. This product was not illegal. This product was not being marketed as an anabolic steroid."
For Lawal, he's not going to focus on what the public response is, and whether or not anyone believes his side of the story. Instead, he'll hope the Attorney General accepts the reasoning for his test failure, and hopes to stay positive and return when he's allowed.
"People are going to accuse me of whatever they're going to accuse me of," he said. "I can't focus on that. All I know is that I know the truth. The truth is out there, I've got nothing to hide, and we'll see what happens come time for the hearing. I'm not going to worry about the negatives. I'm just going to focus on the positives. That's all I can do, man."
Penick's Analysis: Whether it was being marketed as a steroid at the time or not, this is simply a case of being responsible for what you put in your body, and doing more research on any supplement, especially at that level. He's dealt with NCAA testing and Olympic-style testing in the past, and he should have known better. Now, there's a whole other argument about where you cross the line on what constitutes a "performance enhancer", and it's an issue that isn't any closer to a resolution with a highly unregulated supplement market. The sheer number of supplements that Lawal admitted he was taking prior to the fight seems alarming, but it's the norm for a lot of athletes. When a rash of supplements are being used in recovery, muscle building, stamina building ways, etc. how far off from "performance enhancing drugs" are they anyway? For what it's worth, I believe Lawal didn't knowingly go out of his way to ingest this steroid. However, ignorance isn't an excuse, and this ultimately all rests on him and what he put in his body. Because of that, he'll take whatever punishment is handed down.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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