Josh Barnett and UFC parting ways

June 21, 2018

Josh Barnett is negotiating his release from the UFC due to the lack of trust he has in USADA.  Barnett received an admonished but no suspension for a flagged drug test administered by the UFC’s third party anti-doping officiant.

Barnett was the first UFC fighter to “prevail” in an arbitration for a failed test.  The former UFC heavyweight champion was able to prove that he did not knowingly take a banned substance.  This was due in part to a detailed accounting of supplements which led to the finding that a supplement by tbe name of Tributestin purchased at a store in Los Angeles contained Ostrine (a banned substance) although it was not labeled on the product.  He has filed a lawsuit against the drug maker which appears to be the reason for the flagged test.

“I don’t’ feel comfortable giving the control necessary to USADA that would continue my career in the UFC,” Barnett told ESPN.com about his pending release.  Barnett had been with the promotion 5 years after leaving the company in 2002.

Payout Perspective:

It would seem that Barnett would be Bellator-bound if he wanted to continue to fight.  The circumstances surrounding Barnett’s departure are a first and may bring more scrutiny to the UFC’s Anti-Doping Program.  It is a requisite to be registered with USADA to be a UFC fighter, and due to the issues Barnett faced with the provisional suspension and subsequent arbitration, he has drawn a line regarding the policy which is costing him his job with the UFC.

Light heavyweight accepts one-year USADA sanction

June 14, 2018

Michal Oleksiejczuk has accepted a one-year sanction for a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy per a USADA release on Tuesday.  His victory over Khalil Rountree was overturned by the Nevada Athletic Commission after testing positive for a banned substance.

It was the light heavyweight’s first fight with the UFC.  And now, the 23-year-old will have to wait until December 2018 to return to the UFC.  The Polish fighter was flagged for an in-competition test.

Per USADA press release:

Oleksiejczuk, 23, tested positive for clomiphene following an in-competition urine test conducted on December 30, 2017, at UFC 219 in Las Vegas, Nev. Clomiphene is a Specified Substance in the category of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the WADA Prohibited List.

Oleksiejczuk’s one-year period of ineligibility began on December 30, 2017, the date his positive sample was collected, and is identical in length to the sanction imposed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) on March 13, 2018. In addition, the NSAC overturned Oleksiejczuk’s victory at UFC 219 to a no-contest.

Payout Perspective:

At only 23, the sanction does not detour his career too much although a year away from the organization could hurt.  He had made $12,000 and $12,000 to win according to Nevada Athletic Commission pay disclosures.  It’s not clear whether Oleksiejczuk will have to return the pay due to the overturn to a no-decision.

Augusto Mendes is released by UFC, signs with ACB despite pending anti-doping violation

June 9, 2018

The UFC has granted Augusto Mendes his release according to MMA Fighting.  Mendes was flagged back in March for a potential UFC anti-doping violation.  Mendes has signed with Absolute Championship Berkut of Russia.

Mendes claimed that he would appeal the drug test administered by USADA.  However, with one fight left on his UFC deal, he is no longer with promotion.

It is not clear whether he will compete before his USADA case is resolved.

Payout Perspective:

This signing has gone under the radar and may be something to track considering if ACB decides to honor the potential suspension.  One might infer that they will not considering the signing during this time.  Moreover, the UFC’s willingness to let him out of his contract may mean that it will no longer pursue disciplinary action against him but place the burden on other regulatory bodies to decide.  This is a similar situation to the Cro Cop/Bellator issue where a fighter finds alternative ways around the USADA suspension.  We will see what happens and if going to an organization that does not honor an anti-doping violation in another promotion, this may be a strategy by some that will look to circumvent the process.

Werdum flagged by USADA for anti-doping violation

May 22, 2018

The UFC announced on Tuesday that Fabricio Werdum has been notified of a potential anti-doping violation by USADA.  The flagged test is from an out-of-competition test taken on April 25th.

Werdum’s last fight was a knockout loss to Alexander Volkov at UFC Fight Night 127.  Werdum took to social media to proclaim his innocence stating that he’s always been careful with everything he takes.

Werdum’s flagged test comes just a day after he was announced to fight in the UFC’s debut in Moscow this September at UFC Fight Night 136.  With the adjudication process for USADA, it’s unlikely he will be cleared in time.

Payout Perspective:

Werdum’s claim that there was some error in the testing and that he’s always been careful brings into question how much fighter’s detail what types of supplements they are taking and where they are from.  The two-year penalty for the 40-year-old Werdum might spell the end of his career.

USADA open to explaining UFC anti-doping cases

April 26, 2018

USADA has indicated that it may be open to “reasoned decisions” when it comes to resolution of cases with a UFC fighter.

USADA CEO Travis Tygart told MMA Junkie that the agency would be open to providing the underlying facts of a case and provide context for how and why an agency makes the decision.  This would address questions about the reasons behind a resolution of a matter as well as acceptance of a suspension.  Currently, the standard procedure under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy is for USADA to provide a short press release confirming basic facts, a summary of the evidence (e.g., a failed urine test) and the sanction imposed.

The potential to provide more information would provide transparency behind the program and alleviate concern from fighters about USADA.  Of course, the new process would mean more time and resources spent to author these reports.  Also, the UFC has not chimed in on this either.

Payout Perspective:

If “reasoned decisions” would make fighters more willing to work with USADA and feel less threatened about the process, it should happen.  Of course, the time and resources spent to do this would mean additional costs borne upon Zuffa.  This would likely cut into the operational expenses of the company and one might infer you’d see this recouped in other ways.  But, the USADA policy is not going away and anyway to alleviate any concerns with fighters should be looked into.

Compounding pharmacies cause of 3 UFC fighters’ failed USADA tests

April 23, 2018

Junior dos Santos, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Marcos Rogerio de Lima have accepted six-month USADA suspensions after their supplements were traced back to compounding pharmacies that allegedly sold tainted supplements.

Compounding pharmacies prepare their medications onsite according to specifications contained in a written prescription instead of receiving their drug inventories like retail pharmacies and drugstores.

Via USADA release:

Despite their claims, the compounding pharmacies, located in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil, sold contaminated supplements to Junior dos Santos Almeida and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, who each tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, and Marcos Rogerio de Lima, who tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide and anastrozole. These substances are prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

After testing supplements the athletes provided to USADA, the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City confirmed the presence of multiple prohibited substances in the products. Through an ongoing investigation, USADA independently sourced supplements from the compounding pharmacies, which the Salt Lake City laboratory confirmed were also contaminated with hydrochlorothiazide, anastrozole, and several additional prohibited substances. Autoridade Brasileira de Controle de Dopagem (the Brazilian national anti-doping agency) and law enforcement agencies in Brazil assisted USADA’s investigation.

“We appreciate the cooperation of the athletes and international authorities in getting to the bottom of this situation, as it will hopefully prevent these problems from occurring in the future,” said Travis T. Tygart, CEO of USADA. “It’s unacceptable that these compounding pharmacies produced contaminated supplements for the public. And it’s another unfortunate example of why athletes must use extreme caution if using nutritional supplements. All too often, supplement products contain undeclared substances, including prohibited drugs, that can be dangerous to an athlete’s health. We are doing all we can to ensure that these types of suppliers are held accountable for introducing dangerous products like these into the marketplace.”

The contaminated products rule set forth in the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and the WADA Code provide the opportunity for a reduction in the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility if it is established that the positive test resulted from the use of a contaminated product.

“The rule recognizes that supplements can be a risk and also guards against unfounded and unfair reductions by requiring a thorough investigation of all claims of ‘contamination.’ The rule also ensures that athletes are not overly penalized when they have been diligent in what they use, and when it is proven the source of the positive is from a contaminated product, like in these cases,” Tygart said.

Following USADA’s investigation, Almeida, De Lima, and Nogueira, who all used compounded supplements at the direction of their respective physicians or nutritionists, each accepted reduced six-month periods of ineligibility that ended upon the resolution of their cases. As such, the athletes are immediately eligible to return to competition.

Given the evidence that compounding pharmacies can pose a threat to the health and safety of Brazilian athletes, as well as the public at large, USADA will continue working with law enforcement and regulatory agencies in Brazil to investigate the operations of the offending pharmacies.

Payout Perspective:

This is another example of the issues with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  While there is an overarching standard that the athletes are responsible for what they ingest, this case shows that this standard may be unfair.  JDS was taken off of a fight against Francis Ngannou at UFC 215 in September 2017, giving 8-10 months of unwanted inactivity to clear his name.  It does appear that there was cooperation from all 3 fighters in order to avoid an arbitration to oppose the ruling.  Yet, the time off, more than a 6 month suspension, cannot be regained.

Exonerated after USADA arbitration, Barnett sues supplement maker

April 10, 2018

Josh Barnett has sued the supplement maker that he took which led to a finding of a banned substance by USADA. Barnett prevailed at arbitration with USADA which did not suspend the UFC Heavyweight any amount of time.

Barnett has sued BIOKOR, LLC, which does business as GENKOR, N101, Inc. and owners Mark Wilcox and Alex Lasbroas individually in the Superior Court of Los Angeles.

Despite proving that he did not knowingly take a banned substance, it took over a year for the process of investigation to take place.  The arbitration took place in early March.  Barnett was suspended for a December 9, 2016 infraction which was determined to be ostarine.

Fortunately for Barnett, he kept a detailed accounting of supplements which led to the finding that a supplement by the name of Tributestin purchased at a store in Los Angeles contained ostarine although it was not labeled on the product.

Barnett has sued for Negligence, Strict Products Liability, Breach of Implied Warranty and Breach of Express Warranty.

Payout Perspective:

Lyman Good, Yoel Romero and now Josh Barnett have sued supplement makers after they were flagged by USADA for findings of banned substances.  The claim is that the supplements were tainted and did not contained the banned substance on their label.  These lawsuits will be interesting to keep track of as this may be defense for a fighter flagged by USADA.

Nick Diaz accepts one-year USADA ban…which ends next week

April 9, 2018

USADA announced that Nick Diaz has accepted a one-year sanction for Whereabouts Failures reporting pursuant to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.  The suspension is retroactive to April 19th of last year and thus he will be available to fight by next week.

Via USADA release:

USADA announced today that Nick Diaz, of Stockton, Calif., has accepted a one-year sanction for a violation of the UFC® Anti-Doping Policy resulting from three unsuccessful test attempts during a 12-month period.

Like all UFC athletes, Diaz, 34, is a member of the UFC Registered Testing Pool and is therefore subject to certain Whereabouts responsibilities, which allow him to be located for out-of-competition testing. Diaz failed to be available for three tests at the locations provided in his Whereabouts Filings. The first two failures occurred in the second and third quarters of 2016, while the third occurred in the first quarter of 2017. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, the accumulation of three Whereabouts Failures within a 12-month period constitutes an anti-doping policy violation.

Payout Perspective:

The announcement could be due to the timing of the investigation and speaking with Diaz’s representatives on the matter.  If not, this sort of announcement is a mockery of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy as the announcement almost coincides with his ability to get back to active status with the UFC.  While its clear that Diaz could not take a fight since he did not report his Whereabouts on three separate occasions in as 12-month span, the length of time it took for the decision seems lengthy.  If it was not due to a delay in fact-finding, one has to wonder why the investigation process and determination of penalty is taking so long.

Canelo withdraws from May 5th rematch with GGG

April 3, 2018

Golden Boy Promotions announced today that Canelo Alvarez has withdrawn from the fight against Gennady Golovkin.  Alvarez was temporarily suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission due to failing a pair of drug tests for the banned substance clenbuterol.

An April 18th hearing was schedule to determine the fate of the rematch between Alvarez and GGG.  The NAC sought to suspend Alvarez for 1 year due to the failed tests.

Alvarez and his promoters made the withdrawal official via conference call with the media on Tuesday.  Alvarez maintained his innocence that he is a clean fighter that does not use PEDs.

Their first fight drew $27 million in live-gate earnings and an estimated 1.3 million PPV buys.  Despite the belief that the NAC would not derail a rematch which drew so well this past September, the NAC took the test failures seriously.

Alvarez claims that the failed tests were due to tainted meat he consumed while training in Mexico.

GGG wants to fight on May 5th and a replacement for Alvarez is taking place.  The event on May 5th is likely to be moved from the T-Mobile Arena to the MGM Grand which is a smaller venue.

Alvarez’s one-year suspension with the NAC will date back to his first positive test on February 17.

Payout Perspective:

This is a shocking development and a blow for boxing fans as many had anticipated this rematch.  Withdrawing from the fight is interesting as it ensures that Canelo will not fight in Vegas until 2019.  We will see if this strains ties between Golden Boy and the NAC if/when Golden Boy decides to promote fights.  While Vegas is the de facto place for big fights, the commission’s stance to file an official Complaint against Alvarez may have the promotion look to New York or another venue for events.  HBO PPV is also a loser here as any replacement for Canelo will not draw as many buys as a the Canelo-GGG II PPV would have produced.

The Interview: Ally Quinney and Sam Erhlich

March 30, 2018

The Interview talks with Florida State University doctrinal students Ally Quinney and Sam Erhlich as they recently presented an upcoming paper at the Sports and Recreation Law Association Conference regarding the privacy concerns with USADA and the UFC anti-doping policy.

In addition to their presentation, we discuss the recent Jon Jones hearing and the Josh Barnett opinion.

We discuss an exchange at the December 2016 Congressional Hearing on Mixed Martial Arts between the sponsor of the expansion to the Muhammad Ali Act, Markwayne Mullin and the UFC’s Jeff Novitsky regarding the reinstatement of Brock Lesnar.

Introductions: 1:04

Discussion about Presentation at SRLA:  2:31

Discussing UFC/USADA deal and the privacy concerns: 3:57

Survey re tracking of athletes provided to Fighters by USADA: 7:23

Discussion regarding leaving USADA testing pool:  11:36

Whether USADA is a state actor: 16:47

Does it matter that USADA is a third party:  20:14

Discussion on the Mark Hunt case: 21:21

Why won’t an Antitrust lawsuit work in this case: 31:24

Discussion about Jon Jones hearing: 33:30

Thoughts on Josh Barnett case:  34:30

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