Former Title Challenger Raquel Pennington Announces Upcoming USADA Violation

By Jay Pettry Jan 28, 2021

Editor's note: This article has been updated at 3 p.m. ET on Jan. 28 to add the official sanction from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

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Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight Raquel Pennington did not want the story coming from anyone but her first.

On Thursday, Pennington announced on social media that she has inadvertently violated anti-doping policy from prescribed medicines to recover from a medical condition. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency subsequently released information regarding her violation, writing that two substances of 7-keto-DHEA and AOD-9064 -- both banned anabolic agents -- were reported by her. First announced by ESPN shortly after she released her statement, Pennington has been issued a six-month suspension following her cooperation and reporting of the issue.

“Rocky” clarified that she did not in fact test positive for anything, but rather informed USADA that she took these medicines. Pennington stated that she fully cooperated with the drug-testing agency, and that she willingly informed them of these substances. Past examples of USADA suspending fighters that disclosed they had taken substances include Lyoto Machida for DHEA and Mirko Filipovic for hGH. Her six-month ban will lift in May, dating back to her report on Nov. 17.

Pennington has alternated wins and losses in her last four, with decision victories over Irene Aldana and Marion Reneau interspersed between decision defeats to Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie. The Colorado native faced Amanda Nunes for the belt at UFC 224 in 2018, and she suffered a fifth-round defeat to the champ. Before meeting Nunes, Pennington rattled off a four-fight win streak, the longest of her career, where she notched victories over Miesha Tate and Jessica Andrade along the way.

In her statement, she wrote:

“I wanted you to hear this from me first. This morning, USADA will be announcing a violation I committed of the UFC anti-doping policy. Here are the facts. I went to my physician about a medical condition I was experiencing and was prescribed several medications to treat the condition. Unfortunately, I took the medications for a brief period of time, before realizing I should have checked on their status under the program.

“I soon discovered that these medications may be prohibited, so I immediately stopped taking the medication and contacted the UFC to report this potential issue,” she continued. “I want to make it very clear that there was nothing that forced me to report this to UFC, and ultimately USADA. No one knew about this except myself and my physician and USADA had not collected a sample from me since I started the medications. This was simply me realizing a potential mistake and wanting to do the right thing.

“As USADA’s forthcoming statement will show, I fully cooperated with them and provided them with 100% honest. I was not trying to cheat, skirt the rules or gain a performance advantage. I was simply trying to treat a medical condition and made the mistake of not timely checking the status of these medications. I want to apologize to all of my fans and publicly make the commitment that I will be much more careful in the future and not let this happen again.

“I hope that I can serve as a role model in showing that we all make mistakes,” she concluded, “but it is what you do after realizing those mistakes that define your true character. I believe that my actions shown in these events show everyone what I am made of, and while I regret making this mistake, I am proud of how I handled this and hope that you are of me as well. Thank you for your understanding and your support. #TeamRocky.”

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