Jessica Penne Sees Potential 4-Year Suspension Cut to 20 Months, Can Return in December

Although not the totally preferred option for Jessica Penne, there still may be light at the end of the tunnel for the much maligned Ultimate Fighting Championship strawweight.

According to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on Friday, former strawweight title challenger Penne has accepted a suspension of 20 months dating back to April 2019 for a subsequent positive test for metabolites of stanozolol, 16β-hydroxystanozolol and 3’-hydroxystanozolol. These synthetic steroids are banned in- and out-of-competition, and she will be eligible to return to active competition in December.

Partially due to her public comments that led to a reevaluation of her case, the four-year suspension known as an “enhanced sanction” was no longer considered by USADA. A mitigating factor in her favor came from a previous drug test failure, when USADA was able to determine that she did not intentionally take that substance to cheat.

First testing positive in April 2017 for an anabolic steroid, Penne was suspended for 18 months. The suspension came despite her disclosure that the supplement was taken at the direction of her doctor, so USADA reduced her sentence by six months from the original two-year period some offenders receive.

The former Invicta Fighting Championships atomweight queen has not seen success in the Octagon for quite some time. Penne has dropped her last three bouts, including two by stoppage, and her last victory came in December 2014 when she edged Randa Markos by split verdict. Since her 2017 defeat to Danielle Taylor, she has been on the shelf due to multiple positive drug tests.

USADA's statement regarding Penne is as follows:

"USADA announced today that Jessica Penne, of Chula Vista, Calif., accepted a 20-month sanction for her second anti-doping policy violation.

Penne, 36, tested positive at trace levels for two metabolites of stanozolol, 16β-hydroxystanozolol and 3′-hydroxystanozolol, as the result of an out-of-competition urine sample she provided on April 8, 2019. Stanozolol is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and UFC Prohibited List.

USADA determined that a reduction to the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility was appropriate in this case due to the totality of circumstances, including the complexity of issues, as well as Penne’s participation in discussions with USADA following her initial public comments in January. Furthermore, under the current UFC Anti-Doping Policy, USADA did not pursue an enhanced sanction for a second violation because USADA determined that Penne was not intending to cheat when she committed her first violation, as her use of the prohibited anabolic agent dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in a dietary supplement was based upon the recommendation of her physician related to a medical issue.

During its investigation – and in an effort to determine a relative time period of stanozolol ingestion that caused her positive test – USADA also requested that the laboratory re-analyze Penne’s out-of-competition sample previously reported negative from April 4, 2019. The laboratory was able to conduct targeted analysis on the April 4, 2019 sample and subsequently identified trace levels for one stanozolol metabolite also found in her April 8, 2019 sample. The supplements that Penne submitted for analysis did not test positive for stanozolol. Upon notification of her positive test, Penne obtained a third-party laboratory result showing that a medication was the source of the prohibited substance in her sample. However, through working with the third-party laboratory and the WADA-accredited Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) in Salt Lake City, USADA determined that the initial results from the third-party lab did not adequately establish a source of the positive test due to the lab’s testing protocol.

Penne’s 20-month period of ineligibility began on April 8, 2019, the date her positive sample was collected."
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