Featherweight contender Yair Rodriguez will not be fighting until at least March 2021 after the United States Anti-Doping Agency handed him a six-month suspension.

The Mexican, who hasn’t competed since his unanimous decision win over Jeremy Stephens in October, 2019, was reportedly handed the ban due to not reporting his whereabouts for testing three times in the last 12 months.

“Like all UFC athletes, Rodriguez, 28, is a member of the UFC Registered Testing Pool and is therefore subject to certain Whereabouts responsibilities, which allow him to be located for testing,” USADA officials wrote in a statement released on Thursday. “Accurate Whereabouts information is a crucial component of an effective out-of-competition testing program because it enables anti-doping organizations to conduct no-notice sample collections, which helps maintain effective doping deterrence and detection.

“Rodriguez failed to update his Whereabouts information and was unavailable for testing at locations provided in his Whereabouts Filings on three occasions. He accrued a Whereabouts Failure in each of the first three quarters of 2020. The accumulation of three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period constitutes a policy violation under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.”

Rumours surrounded the immediate fighting future of Rodriguez after his proposed fight with Zabit Magomedsharipov seemingly fell apart without explanation. When asked about Rodriguez, Dana White was coy on the status of the 28-year-old striker which fueled further speculation.

“I don’t think he’s going to fight soon,” White said at the UFC Vegas 15 post-fight press conference. “I don’t know what the deal is. It’s actually none of my business what’s going on there.

“When it comes out, it will come out. It’s none of the UFC’s business. When they figure it out they’ll let us know.”

Rodriguez’s suspension is retroactive to 8 September – the date his third ‘Whereabouts Failure’ occurred – meaning he will be unable to compete until 8 March, 2021. However, the USADA statement did make it clear that Rodriguez is eligible for a reduction in his ban due to his conduct not raising “suspicion that he was trying to avoid being available for testing.”