MMA Payout Year in Review: No. 6 – Josh Barnett “wins” at USADA arbitration, but still leaves promotion

December 28, 2018

Josh Barnett became the first UFC athlete under the UFC Anti-Doping Program to not receive a suspension of time from fighting after taking his case of a failed drug test to arbitration.  Still, not trusting the drug testing process, Barnett requested his release from the company.

Barnett tested positive for a banned substance as a result of an out-of-competition sample on December 9, 2016.  The sample tested positive for Ostarine.

Barnett noted that he was routinely taking dietary supplements “to maintain his conditioning as an elite athlete.”  The opinion notes he took 17 supplements prior to providing the sample that came up positive for Ostarine.  Tributestin 750 was one of the supplements that was supposed to contain only Tribulus Terrestris.  Tribulus is not a Prohibited Substance.  “It is claimed to naturally support the production of testosterone among other positive health attributes.”

Through working with USADA, it was discovered through the process of supplement examination that Barnett’s Tributestin was contaminated with Ostarine.  After testimony at the hearing, USADA conceded that the source of the Ostarine found in Barnett’s out-of-competition samples were from Tributestin as the product was contaminated.  With this concession which USADA seemed to admit from the outset and confirmed with Barnett’s testimony, the case “became one of the Applicant being the victim of a Contaminated Product with a Prohibited Substance.”

Barnett’s prior history of failed drug tests was discussed and the matter of whether this was a second infraction of the UFC ADP.  However, the arbitrator determined that a drug sample taken by the California State Athletic Commission

Notably, Barnett, gave the UFC notice that he was taking a “leave of absence” on December 14, 2016.  Two weeks later, his A sample came up positive for Ostarine.

If not for Barnett’s detail in keeping the supplements he took while training, he would have likely been suspended.  The Arbitrator noted:  “I find this Applicant to be a very meticulous and careful person.  In my experience as an arbitrator of hundreds of doping cases I have never heard testimony from an individual who has taken so much care to record his supplement regime in order to avoid the very problem he is now experiencing.

After the arbitration determined that the supplement Barnett took was tainted, Barnett sued the maker in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Despite being exonerated, Barnett decided to leave the UFC.  The process showed how long it took for Barnett’s case to be adjudicated.  He had lost time and was the victim of a tainted supplement.  Barnett noted in a Facebook post of his distrust for USADA and its “insistence” to punish him despite Barnett’s belief that they new it was a tainted supplement issue.

Via Barnett’s Facebook Post:

I cannot in good conscience trust them to act in good faith or perhaps may even wish to look to enact some sort of vengeance in an attempt to cancel out my victory against them in arbitration. It’s not the kind of environment that I want to spend the final years of my career in.

This week USADA and the UFC Anti-Doping Program has come into question after it publicly defended Jon Jones after Turinabol had mysteriously returned to his system.  And then, Jeff Novitsky revealed that it was not just one test in December that showed the metabolite, but tests in August revealed the same.  He also stated at Friday’s press conference that the California State Athletic Commission was not privy to the August results.

At least from an outsider perspective, it’s clear that there are fissures in USADA’s system.  Novitsky has indicated that USADA will continue to be the vendor for the UFC Anti-Doping Policy with more tests.  But it is the quality, not quantity of test, investigation and swiftness adjudication that will help see results and satisfaction.

Josh Barnett wins USADA Arb… by on Scribd

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