Jennifer Maia is the latest fighter to fall victim to a tainted supplement.
The UFC flyweight and former Invicta FC champion has accepted a six-month suspension from USADA after testing positive for a variety of banned substances in an out-of-competition test conducted on Aug. 16, 2018, the UFC’s anti-doping partner announced Tuesday. Maia tested positive for “furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, chlorothiazide, and the thiazide metabolite 4-amino-6-chloro-1,3-benzenedisulfonamide (ACB),” all of which fall in the class of diuretics and masking agents.
In a statement, USADA said an internal investigation determined that a tainted supplement was the root of Maia’s failed test.
“During an investigation into the circumstances of her case, opened and sealed containers of a dietary supplement she was using at the time of the August 16, 2018 sample collection, and that she declared on her doping control form, were sent to the WADA-accredited laboratory in Brazil for analysis,” USADA’s statement read. “Although no prohibited substances were listed on the supplement label, the analysis revealed that both contained the prohibited substances for which Maia tested positive.”
Maia’s suspension is retroactive to Aug. 31, 2018, the date on which she was provisionally suspended, meaning she will be cleared to return to competition in March.
Maia (15-5-1) suffered a unanimous decision loss to Liz Carmouche in her Octagon debut in July 2018 at UFC Boise. Prior to that, the 30-year-old fighter racked up a six-fight win streak that saw her twice successfully defend her Invicta FC flyweight title against Roxanne Modafferi and Agnieszka Niedzwiedz.
Speaking with MMA Fighting on Tuesday, Maia detailed the process.
“They did this test a month after the fight and I was cool because I know I would never use anything illegal,” Maia said. “I was too swollen after the fight because I retain fluid, so I took capsules of natural tea. However, 20 days after the antidoping exam I received a letter informing me that I had used diuretics. I knew I never used anything, so I imagined it had to be the tea since the other supplements I used before the fight, the post-fight antidoping test came back clean.”
Maia contacted USADA and denied ever using banned substances, and asked the entity to test the capsules to check if they were tainted. The tests proved the capsules were contaminated with furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, chlorothiazide, and the thiazide metabolite 4-amino-6-chloro-1,3-benzenedisulfonamide.
“I suffered a lot during this whole process because I knew I never did anything wrong,” Maia said. “I’ve been tested since I joined Invicta more than five years ago and I never failed any test, and this test proved that the tea really was contaminated. The punishment for this failure would have been a year, so they reduced it to six months since I was able to prove it was contaminated.”
Feeling “relieved” after proving her innocence, Maia now shifts her focus back to fighting. Born in Curitiba and training at Chute Boxe, the former Invicta FC champion hopes to be part of the UFC 237 pay-per-view event, which could take place in a 45,000-seat soccer stadium in Curitiba, Brazil, on May 11, but is down to fighting sooner as well.