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UFC’s George Sullivan gets one-year suspension from USADA

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

George Sullivan has been hit with a one-year ban, but will be back sooner than you think.

The UFC welterweight was suspended one year by USADA for admitted use of a prohibited substance, the UFC's anti-doping partner announced Tuesday. But Sullivan's period of ineligibility is retroactive to the day after his last fight: Jan. 31, 2016. So, Sullivan can fight again beginning in February 2017.

Sullivan, 35, admitted taking Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) on July 13 in sample collection paperwork, the USADA release stated. Sullivan told USADA that he used a deer antler velvet product when the agency came to collect an out-of-competition sample. That supplement was mislabeled, per USADA, but the manufacturer's website claimed that each bottle of it contained an extremely high concentration of IGF-1.

The deer antler velvet was tested at the WADA-accredited lab in Salt Lake City and confirmed the presence of the banned substance.

The first time Sullivan disclosed that he was using the product was back in January, which is why his suspension is retroactive to that date, per USADA.

Sullivan's forthright declaration of the product, his not testing positive for anything prohibited, and his relatively low level of determined fault because he didn't know the banned drug was in the deer antler velvet led to USADA deciding to suspend him for one year, rather than the maximum sanction of two years.

Sullivan (17-5, 1 NC) fell to Alexander Yakovlev via first-round knockout back in January. The New Jersey native won three of four before that. Sullivan was supposed to face Hector Urbina at UFC on FOX 20 in July, but he was pulled from the card due to concern over a potential compliance issue with the UFC's anti-doping policy. He wasn't provisionally suspended right away, but was put on that list in August.