Morton fails test for steroids

Times Staff Writer

Former USC and NFL wide receiver Johnnie Morton tested positive for elevated levels of the steroid epitestosterone before suffering a June 2 knockout loss in his mixed martial arts fighting debut at the Coliseum, the California State Athletic Commission announced Wednesday.

Armando Garcia, executive director of the commission, said because Morton refused a post-fight drug test and has since failed to explain his actions, he is subject to a permanent revocation of his fighting license.

Morton has been suspended indefinitely and his $100,000 purse temporarily held.

Tests on a pre-fight urine sample collected June 1 showed Morton’s epitestosterone level was “more than 10 times the normal level for an athlete,” commission official William Douglas said.


Morton was knocked out 38 seconds into the first round by Bernard Ackah. Morton’s head struck the canvas hard. He was removed on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital. Morton then refused a drug test when it was established he hadn’t been seriously injured, Garcia said.

The commission informed Morton in a letter dated June 8 that his “A” sample had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He has until Tuesday to explain his actions, or his penalty will escalate from a one-year suspension and $2,500 fine to a license revocation that would be effective in 61 U.S. athletic commissions, Canada and Puerto Rico, Garcia said.

“We’ve heard no phone call, no letter, no nothing,” Douglas said. “I hope he makes the effort to contact us.”

Attempts to reach Morton through his agent, Joey Sakoda, were unsuccessful Wednesday.

Morton, an 11-year NFL veteran who last played for San Francisco in 2005, said before the fight that he hoped to land in an NFL training camp this summer.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, not speaking specifically about Morton, said, “Under the [NFL’s drug] policy, if a player enters the league with a demonstrated history of steroid use, then he’d be subject to regular and frequent testing.”

Yet, unlike active NFL players who are subject to a four-game suspension for a first positive steroid test, Morton -- if he lands a roster spot -- would face frequent “reasonable cause” tests.


Times staff writers Sam Farmer and Steve Springer contributed to this report.