UFC suspends Cung Le for 9 months

The UFC has suspended middleweight Cung Le nine months for testing positive for excess levels of human growth hormone following a TKO loss to Michael Bisping on Aug. 23 in Macau, China.

Le, 42, will have to submit a clean drug test before being reinstated to the UFC. The suspension is retroactive to the date of the fight.

The middleweight contest headlined a UFC Fight Night event at Cotai Arena. Bisping (25-6) lit up Le on the feet for the better part of the fight, eventually earning a finish at 0:57 of the fourth round.

"The UFC has a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance-enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents," read a UFC statement. "Le will serve a nine-month suspension and, at its conclusion, will need to pass a drug test before competing in the UFC again."

Due to the absence of a regulatory body, the UFC self-regulated the event. For the first time in company history, the UFC paid to implement blood testing in addition to standard urine tests.

Prior to the fight, there was public suspicion regarding Le's physique. Le (9-3), who hadn't fought since November 2012, was visibly more muscular than earlier in his career. He defended his training camp during multiple interviews, crediting changes to his diet, lack of injuries and good genes for his appearance.

"People can say whatever they want to say," Le told MMAJunkie.com. "They should get off their a---- and work out. I'll pee right now. Look at me compared to (UFC middleweight Luke Rockhold). Even (Bisping) is bigger than me. I'm a small dude, I'm just lean. Get over it."

UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner told ESPN.com last month the promotion is formulating a program to randomly test a percentage of its roster year-round in 2015. The responsibility of drug testing in mixed martial arts is left mostly to state athletic commissions.