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Marvin Vettori ‘paranoid to a different level’ following USADA suspension

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Marvin Vettori Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Marvin Vettori wants to make one thing perfectly clear — he never knowingly cheated despite the six-month suspension he received from USADA.

The middleweight competitor was lumped in a group of four fighters who faced disciplinary action from the UFC’s anti-doping partner after testing positive for ostarine last year. Ostarine is a banned substance, illegal to use at any time by athletes competing in the UFC.

Vettori received a reduced six-month sentence because USADA officials do not believe he purposefully cheated due to the low amount of the banned substance in his system, which was consistent with a contaminated supplement.

By the time USADA announced Vettori’s suspension, he had already been out of action for more than six months, which meant he was eligible to return at any time. It didn’t make the sting of the suspension hurt any less, especially because Vettori knows he never actually attempted to cheat the system.

“It’s been a crazy year. This happened out of nowhere and it was the last thing I would have expected to happen to me,” Vettori told MMA Fighting ahead of his return to action at UFC Fight Night in Sacramento. “It just happened and then from there I took it day by day but it was a long journey. Because everything was so weird and many cases were looking kind of weird. Everything could change in a matter of moments.

“The only thing I could do was train and get better and make sure when the time was right, I was going to be more ready than any other time. I just kept the focus and kept training and trusted the process in a way. Finally one day they told me we’re going to solve these cases because the whole situation was very weird.”

Vettori says the UFC was very helpful with his case after he was notified of a failed drug test by USADA.

Once a positive drug test is confirmed, all athletes on the roster have the right to an adjudication process where they can attempt to prove their innocence. Unfortunately that can also be an expensive procedure because the fighters are responsible for paying to have supplements tested and any other costs associated with the case.

Thankfully, Vettori says that due to the extremely low level of ostarine found in his system, it was easier to prove he didn’t knowingly cheat but he still ultimately paid a price.

“Jeff Novitzky helped me out a lot because he told me he believed me ‘I don’t think you’ve done it because the level was so low’. It’s basically a bulls—t substance,” Vettori said. “A high level athlete would never take it. It makes no sense. It stays in the body forever and it doesn’t do anything. I didn’t even know what it was. It’s not a steroid. It’s something that’s supposed to do the function of a steroid but it makes no sense.”

It’s now been more than a year since Vettori last fought, which means he’s taken a huge hit financially while sitting on the sidelines waiting for his opportunity to return.

Even though USADA essentially cleared him of any knowingly putting an illegal substance into his body, Vettori says it’s still a tough pill to swallow that he would ever be considered a cheater.

“Since my career started, I never took this much time off from fights. It’s crazy. My job is to fight and if they tell me I can’t fight, I’m pretty much screwed,” Vettori said. “Obviously other consequences like sponsorships go. I live in California and I moved in by myself and it’s expensive. It sucks. It really sucks, it was a crazy year.

“But I will say it made stronger. Under every aspect, to keep the focus, to drive the anger to something productive and to accept the consequence of something you haven’t done and people talking s—t. You’re not going to look at it every time and you’re not always going to pay attention but it still affects you. Anyone who tells you it doesn’t is lying.”

After that positive drug test, Vettori has been even more vigilant about the kinds of supplements he is taking not to mention a new level of paranoia haunting him everyday because he never wants to go through something like this again.

“I’m paranoid to a different level. Now I’m paranoid to the point where if I open a bottle of water and I lose sight of it even for a second, even if it’s half-full, I’m not going to drink it anymore,” Vettori revealed. “If I’m in the gym and I open a bottle of water and for some reason I just put it down and go back to training and forget to watch it for a second, I don’t drink it anymore.

“It’s a problem because now everything that I’m taking is NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) approved [supplements] but everything is not there now. The other day I needed a probiotic or a multi-vitamin and the UFC can supply you supplements, which is very helpful but in general it’s not easy to find everything NSF. You end up not taking things.”

Overall, Vettori is still happy that the UFC has instituted such a stringent drug testing program because he hopes USADA will weed out the real cheaters in the sport.

Unfortunately, he believes there still needs to be a better set of rules in place when it comes to situations like his where he’s missed so much time in his career while essentially being exonerated of any wrongdoing.

“I’m all about a clean sport but there’s a need to find a balance,” Vettori said. “I want the guys who do steroids to be caught but I don’t want the other people to feel like I felt. It’s bad.”

More than anything right now, Vettori is ready to just put the past behind him and resume his career this weekend when he faces Cezar Ferreira at UFC Fight Night from Sacramento.

“I can’t wait to display what I’ve been training. Because I’m a different fighter,” Vettori teased. “I think I had the best camp of my life and I tried to work on every aspect.”