This past month's Bellator 96 in Thackerville, Okla., appears to have produced the tournament-based promotion's first positive drug test.
A source close to the event today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
) that preliminary-card fighter Steven Artoff was flagged for marijuana and is due next month at a hearing held by the tribal commission that oversaw the event.
Carolyn Daniels of the Chickasaw Nation's Office of the Gaming Commissioner declined to confirm the positive test, citing medical privacy, but said the tribal commission does hire an independent lab to randomly test an average of six to eight fighters per event. A source close to the event said 12 fighters in total were tested at the June 19 event.
Bellator officials declined comment on the matter.
Bellator 96 took place at WinStar World Casino. The event's main card aired live on Spike TV following prelims on Spike.com.
Artoff, who was submitted by Justin McNally in the event's first preliminary-card bout, declined comment when asked whether he had tested positive for pot, but did say the commission tested him. A source close to the event said the fighter informed the commission prior to his drug test that he would test positive for marijuana.
Daniels said fighters who test positive for banned substances can be fined and/or suspended by the Gaming Commissioner's office, which is a member of the Association of Boxing Commissions. She said any drug violations would be addressed at a meeting on Aug. 6.
In May, Bellator's drug testing policies came under scrutiny following an interview given by the promotion's welterweight champion, Ben Askren, who said his employer rarely tested fighters. In an follow-up interview with MMAjunkie.com, he clarified that the job fell upon athletic commissions.
"They could hire outside testing," he said. "But they're a newer organization, so it's going to cost a lot of money. So it's more the commission's job than anything. For whatever reason, I just happened to have fought in a lot of places where the commission just didn't take the time to test."
The website MMAReport.com confirmed that drug testing was performed by commissions in four of 11 events for Bellator's eighth season. No tests came back positive at those events.
On the possibility of additional testing, Bellator Director of Public Relations Anthony Mazzuca previously stated: "Testing by state athletic commissions is discretionary by each commission, and Bellator is held to exactly the same standard drug-testing rules and regulations as is the UFC.
"Bellator conducted 11 events from January through April 2013, and each and every one of those events were fully controlled and regulated ABC-sanctioned events."