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Josh Barnett gets no suspension after arbitration in USADA doping case

Josh Barnett (MMAF, EL)
Josh Barnett at media luncheon.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Josh Barnett is free and clear of his issues with USADA.

The former UFC heavyweight champion received only a public reprimand following arbitration in his USADA doping case, the agency announced Friday. That means Barnett will receive no suspension and can return to the Octagon right away.

Barnett, 40, tested positive for the banned substance ostarine in an out-of-competition drug test stemming from a sample collected Dec. 9, 2016. Barnett and his legal team were able to show the arbitrator that the ostarine came via a tainted supplement. Richard H. McLaren, the chief arbitrator of McLaren Global Sport Solutions, Inc., heard the case.

“Given the source was established to be a contaminated supplement, along with the athlete’s care and diligence concerning the nutritional products consumed, the arbitrator determined that a public reprimand was appropriate,” USADA stated in the release.

Ostarine is not approved by the FDA and is illegally sold in the United States as a performance-enhancer, per USADA. It’s not available as a prescription medication in any country, but has been found as a declared and undeclared ingredient in many dietary supplements in the United States.

Barnett is the first fighter to test positive for what can be considered a performance-enhancing drug and not get any kind of suspension since USADA started leading the UFC’s anti-doping program in 2015.

“On the evidence before me, the Applicant is not a drug cheat,” McLaren wrote in his decision. “He unknowingly ingested a Contaminated Product. In doing so, he did commit an ADPV because he had a Prohibited Substance in his Sample but he did not actively engage in attempting, in any way, to engage in the use of a Prohibited Substance.”

Barnett (35-8) last fought in September 2016, a third-round submission win over Andrei Arlovski. The Los Angeles resident and Washington native had failed two drug tests previously, most recently in 2009. Barnett was stripped of the UFC heavyweight title when he failed a drug test in 2002.

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