B.J. Penn opened up about the use of the IV that halted his return to the octagon at UFC 199. Last Sunday, the UFC hall of famer explained to BJPenn.com why he used the IV, even after saying IVs were for "wimps."
Penn was scheduled to make his return to MMA competition this Saturday against Cole Miller, but he was provisionally suspended by USADA last month after disclosing the use of an IV in excess of 50 mL in a six-hour period during a USADA out-of-competition drug test taken on March 25. Leading up to his return, Penn was training in Albuquerque, N.M. at the distinguished Jackson-Wink gym. There, he was introduced to a number of doctors that work with the Jackson-Wink fighters.
"The first time I heard about these doctors was when I was busy training at the Jackson-Wink gym in New Mexico," Penn explained. "The doctors came by Greg Jackson's gym to help athletes with various issues including eye problems, concussion symptoms, and brain trauma. Unfortunately, I was busy training for my upcoming fight, so I didn't get a chance to work with the doctors at that time.
"After my fight got cancelled, a couple of fighters invited me to come down to Dallas with them to meet with these same doctors. I thought, ‘why not' as I have had prior concussions, I deal with vertigo, and well you have seen how many times I have been hit during my career. I figured if there was any chance that this could help my vertigo, motion sickness or maybe even improve my vision, as I have a lens from a previous cataract, then this was a good thing.
"We were doing some of the different exercises for vision, motion sickness, and vertigo and then, following my physical, one of the doctors suggested that I take a glutathione IV. They said that after doing a physical on me and taking a look at my symptoms, a glutathione IV would be great for me. They told me that having the glutathione administered through an IV would be the best way for my body to absorb the antioxidant."
Penn was well aware of the consequences of taking a USADA banned substance, so he made sure that glutathione was not listed in USADA's banned substances list. However, Penn and the doctors failed to check beyond the prohibited substances.
"So the first thing I told them was that I am signed up with USADA year-round, so we have to take a look at their banned substances list, and make sure there is nothing in there," Penn said. "We went through the banned substance list, and of course, glutathione was not on the list.
"Once we discovered that nothing in the IV was on the banned substance list, I let the doctor administer the IV. I was so focused on USADA's banned substance list that I never gave any thought to the IV except for the fact that sometimes people had used them after weigh-ins before a fight."
Despite having used an IV, Penn still stands by his notorious statement that IVs are for "wimps."
"Of course they are for wimps when the IV is being used to rehydrate a fighter, who has nearly killed himself cutting weight, so that he can fight a smaller man," said Penn. "If you are using an IV for that purpose, then of course you are a wimp, and I'll tell anyone that to their face.
"On the other hand, if someone gets in a bad car accident and needs an IV for a blood transfusion, am I going to call them a wimp? Of course not. That absolutely outrageous, you know. Seriously, who am I addressing here? This is a first-grade conversation. I'm sorry if I offended any haters or fans of fighters who have to take IV's, so that they can fight smaller men, and not get cut from the UFC, but it is what it is."
Penn, who was living in Albuquerque for this training camp, is now back in his home state of Hawaii, and still plans on returning to train at Jackson-Wink for his yet-to-be-determined fight.
"Of course I will return to Greg Jackson," Penn said. "I feel that I have made a lot of improvements by training at his gym. I think Greg would agree. At this point I just want to fight. I want to show the world how great I am."