The UFC’s USADA era continues to be something of a mixed bag. By the look of things, fighters are getting tested more often, at random intervals, and more fighters are testing positive for illegal substances than ever before. That’s a big positive if you’re on the anti-PED side of the fence. However, for those worried about excessive punishments, false positives, and undue financial pressure on athletes when fighting against allegations of PED use, there are plenty of reasons for concern as well.
Not all of them fall on USADA’s shoulders, as the anti-doping organization’s presence with the UFC seems to have opened a gateway to more stringent regulation in athletic commissions across the sport. Certainly Nick Diaz’s drug test fiasco didn’t happen on USADA’s watch, but their policies seemed to have been a driving factor for the Nevada Athletic Commission that sentenced him. Gleison Tibau spoke openly about his feelings of inability, when it came to battling what he felt was unjust punishment over a drug test failure. He cited the high legal fees he would have to pay out of pocket as a chief reason behind not pressing for a suspension reduction.
Since then, we’ve had two athletes who were suspended for potential doping violations, both of whom have made claims of tainted supplements, and both of whom seem to have been able to negotiate shorter suspensions because of it. Is that a sign that the system is working the way it should be, and giving athletes a more manageable way to argue their case? Or a sign that there’s still a lot of potential for athletes to get dragged through the mud, only to be exonerated not long afterward? The first such fighter was Tim Means, who sources revealed to Bloody Elbow, successfully cleared himself from a two-year suspension (and will serve a shorter one) after producing a tainted supplement that caused him to test positive for ostarine.
And now, MMA Fighting revealed that middleweight title contender Yoel Romero has successfully argued his case that he unknowingly ingested a tainted supplement. Originally, like Means, Romero was penned for the standard two-years suspension. Instead, he will reportedly serve less than nine months of that, counting from the time his suspension was first announced. That could put Romero back in business by late summer or early fall, maybe just in time for the next crack at the middleweight title.
Via press release, USADA has confirmed MMA Fighting’s report, stating that Romero has accepted a six-month suspension after testing positive for Ibutamoren in an out of competition test administered on December 16th, 2015. According to USADA, Ibutamoren is a “Growth Hormone Secretagogue,” and was found as an unlisted ingredient in a supplement Romero was taking. The suspension will be carried out starting from January 12, 2016. Putting Romero’s return date as soon as mid-July.
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