“The Italian Dream” was handed a six-month retroactive ban after he was flagged for the substance in an out-of-competition test dating back to August of last year. In a press release concerning the cases of Vettori, Sean O’Malley, Augusto Mendes and Nicco Montano, USADA concluded last month that there was “no evidence of intentional use” in all four cases.
Speaking on MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast, Vettori gave insights into his experience with USADA and underlined his frustrations with being forced to the sidelines since his April 2018 loss to Israel Adesanya.
“It’s been crazy,” Vettori told Eurobash. “Everything happened so quick. I’ve been out of fighting for a whole year. I was suspended for six months, but after my last fight I took six weeks off to take care of some injuries. I started back training and then [the USADA ban] happened, so when I go back to fighting it’s more than a year that I’ve been off.
“Obviously, I would’ve never expected anything like that to happen. The situation was pretty crazy because I could never make a plan because I didn’t know when I could fight again. The situation was always very weird, Jeff Novtizky from the beginning was like, ‘Your case is kind of weird. I believe you because the level is so low and this is the first time you came back with a positive.’”
Vettori claims he had to read up on what ostarine was after being notified that he tested positive for the substance. He also commented on his case being grouped with other fighters who tested positive for ostarine, which put his career on hold until USADA came back with a conclusion.
“Ostarine is a weird substance that happens to be in a lot of supplements. I had to go and check what it was because I’ve never heard of it before. It’s a substance that helps you get big, but I’ve never wanted to get big in my life — why would I want to get big, I’ve got to cut weight! Since the case was weird and they had a lot of cases going on with ostarine, like five or six, they told me they were still making a ruling with the situation. They didn’t want to give me a set return date because the ruling that they made [with the various ostarine cases] could affect my case, so basically I was on hold.”
Vettori is confident that most people understand that he did not take the banned substance intentionally, but underlined that he doesn’t really give much thought to what other people think of him.
“I think most people feel the right way about it. People know that I haven’t done it [deliberately]. But then I do feel like other people aren’t fully informed and then there are a lot of people that are just there to hate; they call them haters for a reason. I’m not really worried about those people, if they weren’t coming after me for this reason they would find another one,” he said.
“The people who look into it…they can see that I have no done this [intentionally]. At the end of the day, I just don’t give a lot of attention to what people think.”
Although he has tried to establish where the ostarine came from, Vettori still has not idea how it got into his system.
“I tested five or six different supplements,” he explained. “Back then, I wasn’t even taking that many supplements at the time [I was flagged], I was just taking some protein and some amino acids. I didn’t even have a fight coming up and I don’t take a lot of supplements anyway, so I honestly don’t know where it came from. This is one thing that I would really like to find out. I wasn’t able to find where it came from. We tried to find out, but honestly, I’ve heard that ostarine can come from the weirdest places. There was one case where they found it in shampoo, another one where they found it in food, it’s very weird.”
The 25-year-old revealed that he has become “paranoid” on the back of his positive test and urged his peers to be cautious.
“Before I was always being careful, but now I’m paranoid. I think it has to happen to you to understand it. I speak to a lot of UFC fighters and they tell me, ‘I’m careful’, but then I see what they’re doing and they’re not as careful as they should be. I used to be like they are now, I was like that before, and I try to tell them, ‘This is not careful enough, you have to be paranoid.’ You have to check everything. I’m extra paranoid. Even now I’ve been eating some meat and I’m tripping about it. I hope this is an example for everyone else.”
Despite the time he has lost due to his positive test, Vettori insisted that the situation has made him stronger.
“Accepting something that is unfair makes you very strong. You have to accept the consequences and keep on going with it. You’ve just got to focus on training and improving. You’ve got to make sure that make the most of any opportunity that comes your way in the future. It was a long time coming and I told [UFC] that I’d be ready in four or five weeks if they wanted me to be.”
“I feel like I found a way to train, get better but not over-train,” he added. “I learned a lot about myself too. A lot of times you just go from fight to fight, you’re always in a camp, you over-train sometimes and that makes you hate the last four or five weeks of camp. Sometimes you can end up hating the camp but now I feel like I know how to keep training and stay focused without being ready ahead of time.”
Eyeing his return to action in July, Vettori believes it’s a bad time for anyone to face him on the back of his tumultuous year.
“It would be a bad time for anyone to face me right now; that’s not just for Cezar. Anybody who has to face me now, it’s going to be a bad time for them. Some people pick fights, I don’t. If you’re going to call yourself a fighter I don’t think you should.”
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Marvin Vettori interview begins at 1:20:45.