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USADA suspends Jessica Penne 18 months for failed drug test

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TUF 20 Finale Photos Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jessica Penne will miss most of 2018 due to a UFC anti-doping policy violation.

The women’s mixed martial arts veteran tested positive for the presence of an anabolic steroid of exogenous origin following an out-of-competition test in relation to a sample taken March 20, 2017, USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner, announced Friday.

An anabolic steroid positive usually leads to a two-year suspension, but Penne was able to explain that she was taking a substance that contained the steroid under the care of a physician. USADA wrote that Penne was not able to receive a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), the anabolic agent that caused the positive drug test, which she said was recommended to her by a doctor.

Penne’s March 20 test initially came back as negative. But after a review of Penne’s Athlete Biological Passport, the sample was “flagged for additional analysis due to an increased degree of variability in urinary biomarkers measured in the sample.” The sample was then run through a carbon-isotope ratio mass spectrometry analysis, which confirmed the presence of a synthetic anabolic agent, per USADA.

While this whole process was going on, Penne, 34, actually fought at UFC Nashville on April 22. She lost by unanimous decision to Danielle Taylor on that card. Penne’s period of ineligibility began the day after that, so she’ll be able to return to the UFC on Oct. 22, 2018.

After hearing about being flagged for a potential anti-doping policy violation, Penne cooperated with USADA and identified the DHEA supplement as the possible cause for the positive drug test. The agency and the Tennessee Athletic Commission accepted Penne’s explanation, USADA wrote, which is why the sanction was reduced from two years to 18 months.

Penne (12-5) is a former Invicta FC women’s atomweight champion. She was a UFC women’s strawweight title challenger in 2015, falling to Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Penne, a Southern California native, has lost three straight fights.