Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal maintains his innocence. | Photo:
The always quotable Muhammed
“King Mo” Lawal was not his usual jovial self as he talked
Thursday evening with Sherdog.com in Hawaii.
The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion spoke in a somber
tone as he described the last two days since news broke that he had
tested positive for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone following his
one-sided technical knockout over previously unbeaten Lorenz
Larkin on Strikeforce’s Jan. 7 card in Las Vegas.
Lawal maintains he is innocent of the charges he is facing after
winning his ninth fight in 10 tries. The former NCAA wrestling
standout said his long history of clean tests over a period
spanning more than a decade should give people pause when looking
at the allegations he is now confronting.
“My track record speaks [for itself],” implored Lawal. “I’ve been
through college and NCAA drug testing, you see what I mean, I’m a
clean athlete. I’ve been tested through USADA [United States
Anti-Doping Agency] and WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] for
international competition and I’ve always been clean … This is my
first positive test for anything, I don’t even know what to say.
All I know is that the truth will come to light and I know that I’m
a clean athlete, I know that I can guarantee that I am a clean
Asked if he had ever utilized any kind of performance enhancing
drug at any point in his competitive career, Lawal categorically
“I’ve never used any performance enhancer in my life,” declared
Lawal, who along with manager Mike Kogan seem to be targeting a
sizeable stash of supplements and anti-inflammatory injections for
a troublesome knee injury leading up to the fight as the potential
cause for the positive test.
“Right now we’re just looking over everything and trying to come to
a conclusion [on how this happened] because it’s ridiculous, man,”
said a frustrated Lawal. “I’m in shock. All I can do is keep on
looking at my supplements. I don’t even know what to do. I just
keep looking over my supplements to see what we can find.”
The anti-inflammatory Kogan stated Lawal was injected with
following a procedure to drain fluid from the knee is
Dexamethasone, a member of the glucocorticoid steroid class, which
is banned only during competition by some commissions and WADA.
Kogan told Sherdog.com that the Dexamethasone treatment was
performed approximately three-to-four weeks before the Jan. 7 bout,
which would make the procedure a non-factor. Kogan further insisted
that he personally verified with the physician that the injection
was nothing that would cause problems with his fighter’s pre- and
post-fight drug screenings.
That likely leaves the list of supplements as the main focus of
hope for reversing the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s positive
And while Lawal put on a brave face and claimed he would eventually
be cleared of any wrongdoing, it is apparent his manager has no
delusions when it comes to the realities of positive PED tests.
“It’s unfortunate in this scenario -- not just our scenario -- but
this scenario when anyone tests positive you are kind of doomed if
you do and doomed if you don’t,” said Kogan. “It’s not innocent
until proven guilty; it’s guilty even if you are proven innocent.
The only way to reverse people’s perception is if your test was a
false positive, period.”
The nature of the anabolic steroid Lawal is accused of ingesting
has added to the consternation of the fighter and his manager.
“We were unaware of this drug, both of us ended up spending most of
the day Tuesday Googling the s--t just to figure out what it is and
once we found out what it is and what its primary use by athletes
is we became even more baffled then before,” explained Kogan. “It’s
primarily used to maintain muscle mass while cutting weight, it’s
basically a weight cutting supplement. It’s something Anthony
Johnson should be looking into so he can make weight, not
something an athlete who walks around at 212 pounds in camp and 208
after a training session would need. If anything, it would hinder
his performance; it would dehydrate him and make it impossible for
him to train.”
One thing the tandem doesn’t seem inclined to do is engage in a
back-and-forth debate with the NSAC. Kogan made it clear they don’t
feel they are being persecuted in any way. Their position is that
there was either an anomaly in the testing procedure or Lawal’s
positive test was the result of a tainted supplement.
Both propositions seem a bit dicey and they are aware of it.
“Our position is not necessarily that we are challenging the
commission’s findings,” said Kogan. “As a matter of fact, our
position is not to challenge the commission’s finding or their
chain of custody or who touched the pee or who moved it where and
who did what because then you just start to raise a bunch of
conspiracy theories and unnecessarily cloud things and make things
more complicated than they are.
“Mo has never knowingly and never will knowingly put anything in
his body that is illegal or is somehow enhancing his performance …
All we can do is present his track-record and his past history and
make a statement as to what he himself has knowingly done and let
the chips fall where they may. We’re not going to spend the next
year running around taking polygraphs, yelling from the top of tall
buildings that we didn’t do anything because the more you do it the
more guilty you look.”
One option they still have at their disposal is to have Lawal’s “B”
sample tested independently. Kogan wasn’t sure that was the right
thing to do at this point, although he does envision a setting
where that may be their last viable option.
“We have not requested the “B” sample to be tested, simply because
we’re still trying to figure out what could have caused this under
the assumption that all the tests were done accurately. Now, if we
go through all of this and try to dissect as much of this as we can
and talk to as many people as we can who can help us understand
this stuff and what have you, and we find absolutely nothing that
could have even remotely come close to testing for this stuff, then
we will request the “B” sample to be tested just in case something
went wrong or something was inaccurate.”
For his part, a muted Lawal continues to maintain a positive
outlook in the face of the test results and the subsequent trial in
the court of public opinion.
“Everyone has obstacles they have to overcome and this is just
going to be one of them. I just have to start moving forward and
keep being positive. I can’t worry about what other people are
saying or doing.”
It is his close-knit relationships that he credits as keeping him
levelheaded in these trying times.
“I appreciate my family and friends and real fan support and those
staying behind me and I’m going to clear my name and then it will
be back to fighting. I’m looking forward to getting back in the
cage and having fun doing my job. I love competing. It’s what I
love to do and I’m looking forward to doing it again.”
History tells us doing what Lawal loves may not be possible in the
United States for 6-12 months. If the past record of those hoping
to have their offence wiped from the record is any indication of
what Lawal has to look forward to, he stands to be heartily
disappointed. The long odds and the potential consequences don’t
seem to be at the forefront of the former champion’s
“I’m pretty confident my name will be cleared. I’m pretty confident
about that. I haven’t even thought about any punishment at all. I’m
staying pretty positive … if you think about the worst-case
scenario you’re going to stress yourself out. I’m not trying to
think about the worst-case scenario at all. I’m just trying to stay
positive and hopefully we’ll get through this and everything will
be on the up-and-up.”