Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and his manager Mike Kogan believe they’ve figured out what caused Lawal’s positive steroid test. Like many fighters before, King Mo is blaming it on a tainted supplement.

On the MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani today, Kogan and Lawal explained that he purchased a supplement called S-Mass Lean Gainer by Rock Solid in April 2010 at a Max Muscle store in California on the advice of a store employee. Lawal claims that he only took it sporadically for “rehab” purposes.

Problem was the supplement contained Methyldrostanolone, which is a variation of Drostanolone, the banned substance he tested positive for, and was actually pulled off shelves sometime last year.

“To the best of my research, this product was taken off the shelves some time in mid-2011, for exactly the same reason that we’re facing right now. Its primary and only relevant ingredient of that particular product is a substance known as Methyldrostanolone, which is basically just a pill format of Drostanolone,” Kogan said.

They claim Lawal didn’t know about this or even what Drostanolone was until he failed the test and they started looking into it.

“When I went to Max Muscle, I figured you can’t buy steroids at a Max Muscle. It’s a chain store,” [Lawal] said. “That’s like going to a grocery store and buying something illegal there. …I guess that’s the mistake I made. When I looked at the bottle, it just had a bunch of numbers on it. It had the ingredients. I didn’t see anything that looked illegal on the bottle, to be honest with you.”

“If Mo would have purchased this product in some back alley from some guy who happens to lift weights, the setting itself would probably warrant a lot more alarm than walking into a nutrition store — and not walking in there and saying, ‘Hey do you guys sell any anabolic steroids?’ — but just walking in there and saying that he’s looking for a supplement to help reinforce his muscle during light lifting and being recommended a substance,” Kogan said. “Also, in 2010 this product was not taken off the shelves. This product was not illegal. This product was not being marketed as an anabolic steroid.”

Despite their findings, Kogan says they have no plans to appeal the suspension, but they do plan to file an “answer.”

“Since we’re not contesting the findings of the commission test, we’re not challenging the chain of custody, we’re not pointing fingers at anybody and we’re not calling for conspiracy theories, I don’t believe we’ll actually file an appeal per se,” Kogan told Helwani. “What we will file is an answer, and an answer would involve affirming their test results and providing our findings and our explanation.”

Whether that results in a reduced suspension remains to be seen, however Kogan and Lawal seem more concerned with repairing his public image than worrying about when he can fight again.

“People are going to accuse me of whatever they’re going to accuse me of,” he said. “I can’t focus on that. All I know is that I know the truth. The truth is out there, I’ve got nothing to hide, and we’ll see what happens come time for the hearing. I’m not going to worry about the negatives. I’m just going to focus on the positives. That’s all I can do, man.”

“Listen, everybody has a story and every athlete has an explanation,” Kogan said. “All we ask for is that people do their own research before they jump to conclusions and then arrive to a conclusion after that. Don’t just read the headlines and be influenced by headline-chasing reporters based on that. You know, everybody cries wolf, but there are circumstances where the wolf is really there. I strongly believe that this is that circumstance.”

Here’s my issue with this: The tainted supplement defense, excuse or whatever you want to call it has been used for years. It’s almost a running joke that whenever a fighter tests positive, everyone expects they’re going to blame it on a bad supplement. Maybe everything they’re saying is true, but at this point that’s not good enough. How can I have sympathy for someone when this red flag was raised a long time ago? It’s been clear for quite some time that it’s the fighters’ responsibility to know exactly what they put in their bodies. If they don’t know what it’s in the random muscle building powder the guy at the local GNC sells them, then they need to either find out, don’t use it or risk putting themselves in the crosshairs. That’s life. No one ever said it would be fair.

Image via Dave Mandel for Sherdog