ACB remove fighter from Nottingham event following revelation of doping ban

ACB 87
Motorpoint Arena Nottingham. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

British mixed martial artist, Azi Thomas, has been removed from ACB 87 after the Russian-based organisation were alerted to a prior anti-doping rule violation.

The Manchester martial artist — who holds a pro record of 9-3-1 — was set to fight Regis Sugden at ACB 87 on May 19 at the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham.

Azi Thomas (known as Aaron Thomas) was banned from MMA competition for four years — between 23 June 2017 and 22 June 2021 — following an ‘Anti-Doping Rule Violation’ in a test administered by South African Institute for Drug Free Sport (SAIDS).

The ban was confirmed by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) in a public news release on February 2.

UKAD’s report noted: “Mr Thomas tested positive for 2α-methyl-5α-androstan-3α-ol-17one, a metabolite of Drostanolone as well as Nandrolone and its metabolites, 19-norandrosterone and 19-noreticholanolone.”

Thomas’s inclusion on the upcoming ACB event was announced on 22 March 2018, 48 days after his suspension was publically confirmed by UKAD.

Upon request, Absolute Championship Berkut gave comment to DreySports in regards to Thomas’s anti-doping violation and his place on the ACB Nottingham event.

“We were made aware that one of the fighters we have announced for ACB Nottingham on May 19th has a situation/issue that means we have had to remove them from the card. We will look to announce a replacement for this bout as soon as possible.”

The Brit’s anti-doping violation took place on May 13 2017, the date of Thomas’s fight against Pierre Botha on EFC Worldwide 59. The event in Johannesburg, South Africa was sanctioned by Mixed Martial Arts South Africa (MMASA).

SAIDS confirmed on their website that Thomas accepted his anti-doping rule violation.

The originally scheduled fight between Thomas and Sugden at ACB 87 would have been his second appearance under their banner, following a win over Eden Newton at ACB 54 in Manchester.

A new opponent for Regis Sugden is expected to be announced in due course.