Interim heavyweight world titleholder Luis Ortiz, who tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone following a Sept. 11 knockout victory, was suspended, fined and had the result of the fight changed to a no contest by the Nevada State Athletic Commission at the panel's monthly meeting on Monday in Las Vegas, a move that will cost him his belt.
By a unanimous 5-0 vote, the commission suspended Ortiz for eight months from the date of the fight -- meaning he will be eligible to fight again May 11 -- fined him $8,000 (10 percent of his $80,000 purse) and required him to reimburse the commission $450 for the lab test on his sample.
In addition, Ortiz, a Cuban defector living in Miami, will be required to perform 15 hours of community service aimed toward children with an anti-bullying message.
He will also be requited to produce a clean test before his next fight and the commission reserved the right to randomly drug test him for the remainder of the year at his expense.
Gilberto Mendoza Jr. of the WBA, which sanctions Ortiz's interim title, told ESPN.com on Monday evening that once it receives the paperwork from Nevada, Ortiz will be stripped of the belt, a move that likely will cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions.
The 35-year-old Ortiz, a 6-foot-4, 234-pound southpaw, who goes by the nickname "King Kong," won the vacant interim title with an electrifying first-round knockout of Lateef Kayode at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It was the kind of impressive performance that announced his arrival as a heavyweight to watch.
But the pre-fight urine sample he supplied to the commission was positive for Nandrolone when it was tested after the fight.
Nandrolone is a banned substance and the commission temporarily suspended Ortiz (whose new record is 21-0, 1 NC, 18 KOs) in October pending a disciplinary hearing.
The Ortiz camp previously asked the commission for a continuance in order to have more time to prepare for the case, which was granted. But when Ortiz and Las Vegas attorney Kurt Bonds appeared before the panel on Monday they had no evidence to offer the commission as an explanation for the positive test.
Bonds initially questioned the chain of custody of Ortiz's sample and claimed the result was a false positive, but rather than engage in a protracted case, he said they elected to come before the commission without continuing to fight that battle because time was not on Ortiz's side.
Bonds argued that as a 35-year-old, Ortiz did not have a lot of time left in his professional career, which began in 2010 after he escaped from Cuba. He also argued that Ortiz had never had an issue with a failed test before and should be shown leniency as a first-time offender.
"There is no reason why he tested positive for Nandrolone. He apologizes, he is remorseful and he is embarrassed. He has never used drugs," Bonds told the commission before he blamed the positive test on Ortiz's consumption of horse meat, which he said often is contaminated with Nandrolone and not uncommon for Cubans to eat.
However, when questioned at length by commissioner Pat Lundvall about his diet, Ortiz talked about eating chicken, beef, pork and vegetables, but never mentioned horse meat as part of his diet.
Ortiz, under oath, told the commission through translator Robert Diaz, who works for Ortiz promoter Golden Boy Promotions, that he never used any banned substances.
"I came to America five years ago to accomplish my dream of becoming a world champion," Ortiz said. "I don't even know what this substance is. I've always trained very hard to accomplish my dream. I leave it all in your hands. I have faith and trust in you (the commission)."
He said he would have no problem being tested randomly year round by the commission and went on to say that he has a daughter with an incurable illness, and that he fights for her and his family.
"The only thing I know how to do is fight," Ortiz said.
The various commissioners said during the hearing that they were struggling with what to do because they believed that Ortiz was sincere but that they could not ignore the positive test.
"It's a positive test and it deserves our attention with a punishment similar to others who have some credible, and some not credible, explanations for their positive test," commissioner Raymond "Skip" Avansino Jr. said.
Then Lundvall recommended the punishment and it was unanimously approved.