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

UFC 232 moves to LA due to Jon Jones drug test

December 23, 2018

Due to a drug test which revealed metabolites related to Turinabol in an out-of-competition test of Jon Jones, UFC 232 is moving from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada to The Forum in Inglewood, California.  The reason being is due to a licensing issue with the state of Nevada.

An out of competition drug test earlier this month from Jones turned up Turinabol, the same substance that caused his 15-month suspension.  Again, USADA indicated it had no idea where the Turnabol came from and there was some scientific things that were explained by UFC executive Jeff Novitsky.  But, to be honest, not of that really matters.

Why?  Well, what I explained above and from reading multiple reports indicates that Jon Jones had a test flagged for a banned substance.  This also means he failed a drug test.  Brett Okamoto succinctly breaks it down

How a residual amount of the substance can stay in one’s system for over a year is baffling.

USADA does provide an explanation:

Last week the California State Athletic Commission gave approval to Jones for a temporary license despite its concerns with how USADA handled Jones’ case.  Rather than take Jones off the card, it has moved the entire show to another state where Jones has a license.

This did not take into consideration the money expended by fans and athletes for attending the event this Saturday.  The UFC indicated fans will get refunds on the Nevada tickets but it does not account for the hotel and airfare fans had expended.

Payout Perspective:

This is a complete public relations disaster by the UFC.  The only saving grace for the UFC is for Dana White to throw his tantrum similar to the one he gave about Greg Hardy being in the UFC.  Then, he’ll just enlist some folks to shout down those questioning him.  Why one fighter has this much importance and is getting the benefit of the doubt once again reflects that the UFC is built on just a handful of stars.  And those stars take advantage of the UFC just as much as the UFC takes advantage of them.  The good news, is the UFC probably knows that they are going to score on PPV no matter the inconvenience of the fans.

As for the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, USADA is showing its flexibility in dealing with Jon Jones.  Not only has it once again emphasized that this test result was not his fault, it is not sanctioning him.  Yet, it cannot invest on determining why Jones had this in his body in the first place.  Moreover, in discussing this issue, it skirts the issue about Jones failing the drug test which would likely take him off this card.

Notably, California suggested Jones enroll in VADA to clarify any issues with his image.  Jones denied it.  And his opponent this Saturday, Alexander Gustafsson noticed.

He does mean VADA testing above but its clear that he doesn’t believe in Jon Jones’ drug test capabilities.

UFC Featherweight accepts 2 year ban

December 17, 2018

The UFC announced that Indian Featherweight Bharat Vijay Kandare has accepted a two-year sanction from USADA after testing positive for a banned substance.

The 31-year-old featherweight competitor tested positive for exogenous boldenone and its metabolites, as well as a metabolite of tamoxifen, following an out-of-competition test conducted on July 23, 2018.

Via USADA release:

USADA announced today that Bharat Vijay Kandare, of Maharashtra, India, has accepted a two-year sanction for a violation of the UFC® Anti-Doping Policy after testing positive for prohibited substances.

Kandare, 31, tested positive for exogenous boldenone and its metabolites, as well as a metabolite of tamoxifen, following an out-of-competition test conducted on July 23, 2018. Boldenone is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and tamoxifen is a Specified Substance in the class of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators. Both substances are prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

“The goal of the UFC Anti-Doping Program is to deter the use of performance-enhancing drugs and this necessarily means we will identify and hold accountable those who use performance-enhancing substances to gain an advantage in the Octagon,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart. “As the Program continues to grow and innovate, we will do our best to continue to protect clean athletes so that athletes can win in the Octagon without cheating and endangering their health and safety and that of their competitors.”

Kandares’s two-year period of ineligibility began on November 2, 2018, the date on which he was provisionally suspended from competition.

Kandare had just one fight in the UFC in November 2017 at UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai, China.  He lost to Yadong Song.

We will see if we ever see Kandare ever again in the UFC.  At 31, he just had one fight in November 2017 and will not be able to come back to the UFC until November 2020.

 

O’Malley gets six month suspension from NSAC

November 14, 2018

Sean O’Malley was handed a six month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing an out-of-competition drug test.  O’Malley may return in March pending a potential additional suspension from USADA.

The bantamweight discovered on Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contender Series will also have to pay costs and fees associated with his hearing before the commission on Tuesday in the amount of $472.42.

O’Malley revealed his flagged drug test via social media as the UFC policy of revealing the names of athletes that have drug tests flagged has been changed.  USADA will not reveal the name of athletes until the resolution of the case.  O’Malley decided to tell his fans despite the new rule to let them know his status.

According to the NSAC ruling, O’Malley may return to action on March 6th pending drug tests prior to his date of return.

O’Malley explained that a dietary supplement containing a banned substance may have been the culprit.  Since O’Malley’s test did not occur post-fight, he was not fined aside from paying costs and fees associated with the hearing.

Payout Perspective:

While there is no written finding that there was a tainted supplement, it appears that this may be the case.  Since O’Malley was cooperative and able to pinpoint the source for the failure, the punishment from the commission was relatively nothing.  Of course, he will have to wait for USADA to finish its official investigation.  It could tack on extra months or decide that the six months is sufficient.  A fortunate outcome for the promising young bantamweight.

UFC middleweight announces USADA test positive for ostarine

November 1, 2018

Although it has yet to be announced due to new UFC Anti-Doping Policy rules, middleweight Marvin Vettori has announced that he has been flagged for a positive test of ostarine.

MMA Junkie reported Vettori’s announcement made on his Instagram account.  Vettori’s last fight was this past April with a split decision loss to Israel Adesanya.  Notably, “The Style Bender” will fight this weekend at UFC 230 against Derek Brunson.

Vettori described having “a very low trace of ostarine.”  According to his social media post, he has been working with USADA since August.  He believes it to be a contaminated product that caused the test for ostarine.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Hi guys, many of you are asking me everyday when my next fight is going to be, so I thought to do this video to explain you the current situation. It is right that you know from me what happened, that I can tell you what happened in the most straightforward way possible. At the seventh USADA test, I was found positive for a very low trace of ostarine, and since August Im still in the middle of the process of it and I’m waiting for final news. No official press release has yet been done, because the new USADA policy is to say nothing until the confirmation of all the tests, given the many cases of contamination or accidental, like mine. Since the beginning of my career I have always been a clean fighter, I have never intentionally assumed anything that could favor my performances inside the cage because I am convinced that the results are the result of sacrifice, dedication, blood and sweat. This is just a small stop on the way to achieve what I have set. As soon as I will be allowed to return to the cage, I will do it as always at my best and with only one goal in mind. I thank Jeff Notivky for helping me understand the steps in this process with the USADA and I thank the USADA for keeping our sport clean. I thank my team and all of you who follow me everyday. I have never stopped training and I will never do it, the goal remains the same. #theitaliandream

A post shared by Marvin Vettori (@marvinvettori) on

Payout Perspective:

This week we saw Polo Reyes come back from a six-month suspension due to a contaminated product.  If this is the case for Vettori, he may be facing a similar sanction.  This new strategy for a fighter to self-announce the findings puts the responsibility of revealing the information on the fighter rather than USADA.  Whether good or bad, its for the fighter to decide how to let fans know why they are out for a longer period of time.  We have seen Sean O’Malley do the same thing.  Vettori decided to follow suit as well.

UFC lightweight back after 6 month USADA suspension

October 31, 2018

On Monday, USADA announced that UFC lightweight Polo Reyes has accepted a six-month sanction for violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

Reyes tested positive for ostarine after an out-of-competition test on March 8, 2018.

Via USADA press release:

Reyes, 33, tested positive for ostarine following an out-of-competition test conducted on March 8, 2018. Ostarine is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

Ostarine, also known as MK-2866 and Enobosarm, is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that is illegally sold worldwide as a performance-enhancing substance. Ostarine is not currently available as a prescription medication in any country, and its unauthorized use may carry serious side effects. Nonetheless, ostarine has been found as a declared and undeclared ingredient in many dietary supplements. More information about the risks of ostarine can be found through a USADA athlete advisory.

Following notification of his positive test, Reyes provided USADA with information about two dietary supplement products he was using at the time of the relevant sample collection. Although no prohibited substances were listed on the supplement labels, testing conducted on independently sourced, unopened containers of the products by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah, indicated that they contained Ostarine.

Reyes is the first UFC fighter to have his suspension announced after serving it.

Payout Perspective:

Since coming to the UFC in 2015, Reyes has had two Performance of the Nights including his last fight in January 2018 where be beat Matt Frevola via KO/TKO.  Notably, Reyes worked with USADA to determine the cause of his failed test.  With the suspension behind him, Reyes may continue his lightweight career with the company.

UFC welterweight accepts 2 year sanction for cocaine use

October 16, 2018

USADA has announced that UFC UK fighter Bradley Scott has accepted a two-year sanction for violating the UFC Anti-Doping Program.  Scott tested positive for cocaine metabolites per an in-competition test.

Via USADA press release:

Scott, 29, tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, as the result of a urine sample he provided in-competition on May 27, 2018, at Fight Night 130 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Cocaine is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Stimulants and prohibited in-competition under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

USADA conducted a thorough investigation into Scott’s case and determined Scott had not provided verifiable evidence regarding the circumstances that led to his positive test. Scott’s two-year period of ineligibility, the standard sanction for a first offense involving a non-Specified Substance, began on July 3, 2018, the date his provisional suspension was imposed.

The former TUF Smashes contestant will not be able to return to the UFC until July 2020.

Payout Perspective:

The finding should be a disappointment for the 29-year-old welterweight who is 3-5 in the UFC and on a 2-fight losing streak.  Arguably, cocaine should not be considered a PED but a recreational drug.  It would be interesting to know if Scott would be required to attend some sort of education regarding the drug to ensure he does not have an issue with the drug.

O’Malley out of this UFC 229 due to failed drug test

October 1, 2018

Despite the fact that the UFC Anti-Doping Policy announced new rules which precludes an announcement from USADA about a failed drug test, Sean O’Malley revealed that he is going through an issue due to a positive showing for a banned substance.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

💔 Just a speed bump on the way to greatness.

A post shared by Sugar Sean O’Malley (@sugaseanmma) on

O’Malley, an up-and-coming, charismatic bantamweight that came to prominence through Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender’s Series announced via social media that he was out of his fight this Saturday at UFC 229 against Jose Alberto Quinonez. 

As the post states, O’Malley believes that the banned substance may be a result of a contaminated substance.  The testing for this will take 30 days although the exact punishment for this is unknown.

Payout Perspective:

This is a blow for O’Malley’s opponent who will not receive a payday this weekend and will have to hope he can get another fight soon.  The problem with that is that the fight would have been a high-profile one for Quinonez.  O’Malley suffers since UFC 229 will likely be the biggest drawing show in the history of the company (if you believe the advance projections from the company).  The up-front transparency from O’Malley is nice since he’s letting us all know about the process and why he’s being pulled from the fight this Saturday.  With the new UFC policy, we will see how other fighters handle their sudden absence from the Octagon.

Anti-Doping Policy will not announce drug test violations until resolution of case

September 30, 2018

ESPN reports that the UFC has made changes to its anti-doping policy wherein USADA will no longer announce fighters that have been put on provisional suspension until there is a resolution of the case.

According to the UFC, it will not announce a drug test failure until the case is resolved.  The rule will prevent putting fighters in false light as drug cheats wherein some of the failed tests are a result of a contaminated supplement.  Thus, some of the athletes did not intend to use a supplement for advantage but received a drug test failure due to something not labeled properly.

As a result of contaminated supplements, several athletes have filed lawsuits against supplement manufacturers and distributors due to serving UFC Anti-Doping Policy suspensions.  In addition, USADA had to address the issue of compound pharmacies when several Brazilian athletes failed drug tests.  These types of pharmacies make their own supplements instead of receiving them from the manufacturer.

One of the reasons for the change is the number of athletes that have failed tests due to unintentional use.

Payout Perspective:

The move is a step in the right direction for the UFC but it will be hard to explain the unexpected disappearance of a fighter from events and/or lack of activity.  This will spur people to believe that there is a violation pending.  But the move seeks to protect athletes from the media and others to jump to the conclusion that the athlete is a cheat.  The amendment was made with little notoriety and apparently without input from the athletes which is a concern for those interested in the rights of the fighters.

USADA forces suspended fighter to take DQ in Muay Thai event

September 29, 2018

As part of being suspended from the UFC as part of violating the UFC’s Ant-Doping Policy, you cannot participate in other combat sports-related activities.  Adam Hunter learned this lesson as he was disqualified from a Muay Thai Competition in June 2017.

Hunter has not even made an appearance in a UFC Octagon as he was suspended prior to his debut in August 2016.  According to the USASDA release, he had participated in the 2017 Ontario Provincial Muay Thai Championships whil serving his two year suspension:

Hunter, 34, initially accepted a two-year period of ineligibility and loss of results in October of 2016 by USADA and the British Columbia Athletic Commission after a sample he provided during an out-of-competition test on August 11, 2016, tested positive for a tamoxifen metabolite, boldenone metabolites, methandienone metabolites, a drostanolone metabolite, and clenbuterol.

Despite signing an Acceptance of Sanction form, Hunter went on to compete in the 2017 Ontario Provincial Muay Thai Championships on June 10, 2017, thereby violating the terms of his sanction. Upon investigating the circumstances of the violation, USADA concluded that Hunter was operating under the mistaken belief that his participation in the event would not be a violation of the terms of his sanction.

After fully considering the circumstances that resulted in his participation in the Ontario Provincial Muay Thai Championships, USADA concluded that Hunter’s level of fault in this matter was low and that an additional period of ineligibility was not warranted. Per the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, however, Hunter’s results from the event have been disqualified.

Payout Perspective:

This is the first case where we see USADA reaching outside the UFC.  One would think that you may compete in other sports outside of MMA, but it appears that serving the suspension reaches throughout other sports where drug testing may become involved.  This is tough for Hunter since he’s never fought in the UFC but has been disciplined twice by the organization.

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