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Anderson Silva on steroids: I looked like a liar despite telling the truth

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Silva still the favorite against Bisping (2:22)

ESPN MMA reporter Brett Okamoto previews the UFC Fight Night: London main event. Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson "The Spider" Silva (33-6) facing English fighter Michael "The Count" Bisping (28-7). (2:22)

Aug. 13, 2015 was a strange, sad date in the history of mixed martial arts.

That was the day Anderson Silva, widely considered the greatest fighter of all time, appeared before the Nevada State Athletic Commission to explain how traces of the anabolic steroid drostanolone came to be in his system before a fight against Nick Diaz seven months earlier in January.

Silva, a former UFC middleweight champion, had months to prepare his defense. In the short term, his ability to make a living was at stake -- but more importantly, his legacy was on the line. His positive tests had sent shockwaves through the sport. UFC president Dana White admitted it "screwed him up for days."

But when Silva's disciplinary hearing finally went down, it was a wreck. His attorney argued the failed test was the result of a legal but contaminated sexual stimulant but brought no lab data as evidence. Silva struggled to remember time frames he allegedly took the substance.

Silva looked and sounded guilty. His defense was so utterly lacking in physical evidence that one wondered whether Silva wouldn't have been better off just staying quiet and accepting a one-year suspension, which he got in the end anyway. It was a long, awkward fall for one of the most symbolic figures in MMA history.

This weekend, Silva (33-6) will make his first appearance since the failed test when he meets Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night inside O2 Arena in London. The Brazilian has said he wants to keep the drug suspension in the past but also admits he's unhappy with how his disciplinary hearing went.

"The biggest part is I wasn't able to express what really happened," Silva told ESPN.com. "I walked away from that hearing looking like a liar, but I was telling the truth the whole time."

If Silva is truly innocent, his response poses a series of questions.

If the positive test was the result of a contaminated substance he genuinely thought was clean and was taking for personal reasons, why not put forth an effort to clear his name? If his defense dropped the ball (Silva referred to them as "clowns" during a global media call in December), why not still release lab results for the substance? Why not research and release more information about the sexual stimulant he took, which allegedly came from Thailand?

Doing so would not have changed his suspension, but it might have given him the opportunity to, in his own words, "express what really happened." According to his longtime manager Ed Soares, it's not something they intend to do.

"I was in that hearing the whole time," Soares said. "I know he was telling the truth and, unfortunately, a true story looked like a lie. So many things happened during that hearing that were unfixable. For example, the translator. His translator came out and immediately started the whole hearing off on the wrong foot.

"The first question was, 'Can you explain why you were taking the substance?' Anderson said, 'I's a private matter. It's personal.' The translator turns around and says, 'I'm not saying anything.' So, they thought he was pleading the Fifth and refusing to answer," Soares said.

"There's so many things to correct. Yes, being his friend and manager, I'd like to let everyone know the truth, but there are people who believe in him and know the truth. I know it's the truth. So, we're not too worried about it."

Bisping (27-7), for one, hasn't let Silva off the hook. The British veteran has said he now believes Silva was using performance-enhancing drugs his entire career. Bisping says he has actually been further insulted by Silva's response to the failed test -- first the defense and now his continued stance of innocence.

"I am absolutely gobsmacked by this guy," Bisping said. "Listen, you're as guilty as sin. It's as simple as that. Even when we did the conference call for this fight, he's saying, 'Look at my body. Look at the way I am. You can tell I didn't use steroids.' The very fact he came out with that is proof. Why would he try to justify it using his body shape? Unless you're a fool, you know that not everyone who takes steroids looks like a bodybuilder.

"Unfortunately, turns out he was a fraud. He was a coward. He was a cheat. He was taking steroids his whole career. He was found out and sentenced to a suspension and still denies it to this day. He pretends it didn't happen. Well, shame on you."

After losing to Chris Weidman twice in 2013, Silva basically expressed he was done fighting for the UFC championship. He wanted to finish out his career with nontitle fights. That has changed within the past year, as Silva is now saying he intends to recapture the belt he once held for seven years.

It would be an amazing addition to his already storied career and legacy -- and certainly, an addition far more positive than the one that took place in August.