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Top Ultimate Fighting Championship bantamweight contender Rob Font had a major scare from the World Anti-Doping Agency recently.
Following his successful performance, a five-round decision win over ex-champ Cody Garbrandt, Font (19-4) failed a post-fight drug test for a metabolite of the noontropic substance known as meclofexonate. Upon learning of this test, Font and his team including manager Tyson Chartier documented every supplement that Font took, submitting his information to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. After an investigation, Font has been cleared of any wrongdoing, although he is currently under suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which is customary for an active anti-doping case. Chartier released a full statement of the proceedings on his Instagram account on Friday, detailing the steps they took as well as a copy of the letter received from USADA.
The substance, while prohibited in competition by both USADA and WADA, can be found in the system in ways beyond supplement consumption. A WADA study in early 2021 showed that these metabolites can trigger an “adverse analytical finding” even when the specific stimulant meclofenoxate is not present. These metabolites are called 4-chloropenoxyacetic acid, also known as 4-CPA, and they do not directly mean that a positive test contains the banned substance meclofenoxate. As the findings came out, it was determined that Font did not take any performance-enhancing supplements.
Instead, the substance called chlorphenesin was determined to be the culprit, which is something contained in cosmetic products “such as hair products, skin lotions, and sunscreen,” while also being chemically related to 4-CPA. Font’s team sent along products he used and the receipts of their purchase to USADA, who them tested them and determined them to be the source of his adverse finding. As such, Font is not suspended by the UFC or USADA, however the NSAC still has issued him a temporary suspension until it runs a separate test with its own lab.
ESPN acquired a statement from UFC testing czar and senior vice president of athlete Health and performance Jeff Novitszky, who blasted WADA while explaining that this was a clear example of a “false positive case.”
“Rob Font’s case is a true ‘false positive,’” Novitzky stated. “And the blame lays squarely on the shoulders of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Their scientists put forth guidelines to their accredited laboratories in January of this year that were flat out wrong. We know definitively that the use of an allowed substance, chlorphenesin, commonly found in cosmetic products, can result in 4-CPA levels well in excess of 1000 ng/ml.”
Novitzky continued, “I’m very happy that USADA was able to resolve Rob’s case quickly, but I’m very disappointed that WADA has let down clean athletes with a lack of care in instituting flawed scientific guidelines, that as of today, still have not been rescinded. WADA needs to act immediately.”
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