Editor's note: The article has been updated at 6:45 p.m. ET on 1/10/20 to add the statement from USADA.
Jessica Penne is concerned that her recent suspension from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency will put an end to her career.
On her Instagram on Friday, Penne posted a lengthy statement discussing her issues with USADA. In the post, she claimed, "USADA has effective bullied and forced me into retiring from MMA," and compared the organization to the "High Sparrows" of "Game of Thrones." She explained that during the investigation of her 2019 drug test failure, the process proved far more antagonistic and she was allegedly told she would be issued a four-year suspension unless she exposed other fighters or team members that were also using banned substances.
Penne tested positive for an anabolic steroid in April 2017 and was handed down an 18-month suspension, when it was determined was prescribed dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) by her physician and did not receive an exemption to use the substance. Upon returning from the forced layoff, Penne was set to face Jodie Esquibel in February 2019 but suffered an ankle injury immediately before the fight.
The former Invicta Fighting Championships champ had her matchup against Esquibel rescheduled for that April, but withdrew from the contest for what were at the time undisclosed reasons. Penne explained in her post that the reason for her pulling out of the contest was due to a low level of stanzolol in her system. Due to it being her second violation for a steroid-related substance, Penne has been handed down a four-year suspension -- if accepting the terms, she would be eligible to return after she turns 40.
Penne maintained her innocence in her statement, alleging that the microscopic level of substances -- not a "performance enhancing dose" according to her -- belonged to either a tainted supplement or medication. She wrote, "I spent thousands of dollars I didn't have testing medications and supplements (most of which were 3rd party certified that the UFC [Performance Institute] gave me). The lab I tested my supplements at (Korvalabs in California) actually found the banned substance that USADA was trying to pin on me. I was overjoyed with happiness thinking that my name would be cleared and I could return to fighting. However, that was not enough for USADA…"
Penne ended her statement with the following: "I hope with all my heart that you all believe in me and know I would never cheat…I loved this sport and gave my life to it."
USADA Statement on Jessica Penne’s Public Comments pic.twitter.com/2XH6yFsBvy— USADA | UFC Anti-Doping Program (@USADA_UFC) January 10, 2020
On Friday night, USADA responded with its own statement, disputing Penne's telling of the events and claiming multiple "factual inaccuracies and unfounded allegations." The organization also mentioned that Penne will have a chance to plead her case before an independent body in the future.
USADA's statement regarding Penne is as follows:
"Given Jessica Penne's public statement, we can confirm her positive test for stanozolol. However, there are many factual inaccuracies and unfounded allegations in her statement, nicluding that she has been forced out of UFC. In fact, she has exercised her right to contest her case before an independent arbitrator, per a request USADA received after she released her public statement. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, all athletes have the right to present the facts and circumstances during a full evidentiary hearing. We look forward to the opportunity to present the facts and evidence through this process."