Josh Barnett Skirts Suspension in USADA Doping Case, Faces Only Public Reprimand

By Jordan Breen Mar 23, 2018

Despite a convicted past, Josh Barnett won’t be facing a suspension from the U.S. Doping Agency.

On Friday, it was announced that Barnett would receive only a public reprimand in his USADA doping case. As a result, the former UFC heavyweight champion is free to return to action, effective immediately.

The 40-year-old Barnett tested positive for the banned substance ostarine in an out-of-competition drug test, related to a sample collected Dec. 9, 2016. Barnett and his legal team were able to prove to an independent arbitrator, Richard H. McLaren of McLaren Global Sport Solutions, Inc., that his positive test was the result of a contaminated supplement and that he took the substance unwittingly.

Ostarine is a non-FDA approved selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) which is illegal for consumption in the United States and not available for use as a prescription medication in any country, however, instances of ostarine have appeared in otherwise legal substances often enough in recent years that U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has began issuing warning letters to particular supplement manufacturers, warning of its illegality.

“On the evidence before me, the Applicant is not a drug cheat,” McLaren wrote in his decision. “He unknowingly ingested a Contaminated Product. In doing so, he did commit an ADPV because he had a Prohibited Substance in his Sample but he did not actively engage in attempting, in any way, to engage in the use of a Prohibited Substance.”

The USADA violation was Barnett’s fourth positive drug test throughout his 21-year MMA career. He tested positive for steroids in November 2001 in a post-fight drug test after his win over Bobby Hoffman at UFC 34, but faced no penalty as the Nevada State Athletic Commission were only conducting a survey to determine if doping was an issue in MMA. Less than five months later, following his UFC 36 title win over Randy Couture, he tested positive for boldenone, bandrolone and fluoxymesterone. His third positive test came in a pre-licensing test in the state of California, where he popped for drostanolone metabolites prior to a scheduled fight with Fedor Emelianenko, slated for the ill-fated Affliction 3 card, which was eventually canceled.

“Given the source was established to be a contaminated supplement, along with the athlete’s care and diligence concerning the nutritional products consumed, the arbitrator determined that a public reprimand was appropriate,” USADA wrote in its official statement.

Barnett has not competed since choking out fellow former UFC champ Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 93 in September 2016.

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