Affliction Entertainment vice president Tom Atencio confirmed to Sherdog.com on Wednesday that Josh Barnett has been pulled from an Aug. 1 matchup against Fedor Emelianenko.
The fight was scheduled to headline Affliction and M-1 Global's "Trilogy" event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., but Atencio said that the California State Athletic Commission will not license Barnett because he has tested positive for a banned substance. The CSAC will release a statement Wednesday.
Barnett said he had not been notified of any issues with his eligibility as of Tuesday evening.
"I took my test three weeks ago. I would have thought I would have heard something by now," Barnett told Sherdog.com. "No matter what happens with this, I can assure you I will clear my name. This will not be something that I am defined by."
Atencio said he hopes to secure a replacement Wednesday but would not comment on the new matchup until a deal is signed.
Sherdog.com reported Tuesday that Vitor Belfort has agreed in principle to face Emelianenko, according to two separate sources close to the negotiations. Bobby Lashley also is being considered, among others, but Tuesday night he denied knowing anything about replacing Barnett.
"I don't know if I would want [the fight] right now," Lashley said. "Since the last fight, I haven't really been into training again. That fight is next week. That would be something I would really have to take a look at. To just jump in there probably wouldn't be the smartest thing for me right now. A lot of people would say that might be a money fight. They figure, 'If we give him enough money, will he do it?' That's what people tend to look at. I don't want to get into fighting for the money so much right now."
Belfort, a former UFC light heavyweight champion, is scheduled to face American Top Team standout Jorge Santiago in a middleweight bout on the Aug. 1 card.
Loretta Hunt covers MMA for Sherdog.com. Joe Hall, Greg Savage, T.J. De Santis and Jeff Sherwood contributed to this report.