After the opening half of the heavyweight and light heavyweight seasons in Las Vegas, reports that four athletes had tested positive for prohibited substances shook the PFL. Two well-known fighters from the UFC, Krzysztof Jotko & former title contender Thiago Santos, are on the list.
Both Santos as well as Jotko, who conducted their PFL debuts in April, tested positive for drugs following their separate matches at PFL 1. Jotko fell a decision to Will Fleury on the same card, whereas Santos dropped to the 2022 PFL champion Rob Wilkinson in the co-main event.
Heavyweights Bruno Cappelozza and Rizvan Kuniev, who triumphed over Matheus Scheffel and Renan Ferreira at PFL 2 on April 7, are the remaining two competitors who tested positive for prohibited substances. The chemicals have not been specified, and the duration of each fighter's suspension remains to be made public.
Many PFL supporters, who were looking forward to the second half of the season, were shocked by the announcement. Four athletes have already been removed from the remaining 2023 season, leaving the PFL unsure of its future course.
On June 8, Santos was slated to meet Mohammad Fakhreddine, and Jotko was slated to confront Ty Flores as part of the same PFL 4 events in Atlanta. The PFL has not yet revealed Cappelozza and Kuniev's upcoming fights.
This information serves as an alert that there is still a big problem with the consumption of prohibited substances in combat sports that requires attention. When it involves PEDs, the PFL has a zero-tolerance policy, and they have previously demonstrated that they would act quickly to punish fighters who break their rules.
It's not clear how long the suspensions will last for the four fighters, but they will likely face significant time on the sidelines. It's also possible that their careers could be impacted in the long term, as fighters who test positive for banned substances often face a stigma that is hard to shake off.
The PFL will need to take a careful look at its drug testing policies to ensure that they are doing everything possible to keep the sport clean. Fans and fighters alike will be watching closely to see how the PFL responds to this latest development.