USADA has now responded to Jessica Penne’s claims that she’s essentially being forced into retirement under the threat of a four-year suspension from the sport.
On Friday, the UFC strawweight released a lengthy statement taking aim at USADA following a positive drug test for a banned substance after already serving an 18-month suspension from a different infraction of the UFC’s anti-doping policy.
“I am heartbroken and defeated,” Penne wrote. “USADA has effectively bullied and forced me into retiring from MMA.”
According to Penne, she tested positive for an “extremely low level” of stanozolol, an anabolic steroid banned at all times for athletes in the UFC. She then explained how she went to great lengths—and great financial cost—to have her supplements tested in an attempt to prove her innocence as a victim of a contaminated product.
Penne claims the lab where she had the supplements tested found the product tainted with the stanozolol but USADA did their own independent testing, which she says refuted those results.
“Given Jessica Penne’s public statement, we can confirm her positive test for stanozolol,” USADA officials said in a statement sent to MMA Fighting. “However, there are many factual inaccuracies and unfounded allegations in her statement, including that she has been forced out of UFC.
“In fact, she has exercised her right to contest her case before an independent arbitrator, per a request USADA received after she released her public statement. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, all athletes have the right to present the facts and circumstances during a full evidentiary hearing. We look forward to the opportunity to present the facts and evidence through this process.”
As part of the UFC’s anti-doping policy, all fighters are afforded an adjudication process to dispute findings and/or punishments handed down as part of the program. Fighters are responsible for all legal costs associated with any arbitration, which Penne mentioned could cost her upwards of $30,000 to $40,000. Butler recently started a GoFundMe campaign to help foot the bill.
Based on the statement by the USADA, the UFC’s anti-doping partner won’t be digging into the details surrounding Penne’s case until the independent arbitrator has a chance to hear both sides of the story before then rendering a verdict.
Penne, 36, hasn’t fought since April 2017 and there’s no exact timetable on how long it will take for an independent arbitrator to take up her case with USADA.