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Jessica Penne shuts down GoFundMe campaign, ‘close’ to an agreement to avoid arbitration

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jessica Penne still doesn’t have a resolution when she will be able to fight again, but it appears she will avoid the costly legal fees associated with an arbitration hearing with USADA.

On Wednesday, Penne’s manager Brian Butler of Suckerpunch Entertainment suspended the GoFundMe campaign he started in order to help the veteran strawweight raise funds for an arbitration hearing with the UFC’s anti-doping partner.

“We will be closing the campaign today,” Butler wrote. “We have been working with UFC and our legal team diligently and it looks like USADA and our legal team are close to reaching an outcome that will avoid the full costs of an arbitration.

“We want to thank everyone for their donations because without it we wouldn’t have been able to get us this far! We will keep you posted on the developments as they come but do not want people to keep donating at this time. Thank you all so much for your support of Jessica!”

Butler confirmed in a text message to MMA Fighting that the fundraiser had been shut down after donations of just over $7,500 had been made. The campaign sought to raise $40,000 for legal fees.

Penne had been seeking to raise the funds to fight back against a potential four-year ban from the sport as a two-time offender of the UFC’s anti-doping policy. According to Penne and her manager, the four-year suspension would have effectively forced her into retirement.

The potential doping violation stems from Penne testing positive for stanozolol — an anabolic steroid — that she later said was at a “picogram” level. Penne believed that likely indicated she was a victim of a contaminated medication.

Penne then had her medication tested by Korva, a third-party laboratory, with a result that found stanozolol in a “sealed/unopened box labeled Aftera,” which is commonly known as the “morning after pill.”

Unfortunately, Butler previously told MMA Fighting that additional samples of the same drug tested at the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) accredited lab by USADA showed no traces of the steroid.

That left the 37-year-old fighter staring at a potential four-year suspension, which is why her management team was seeking to go to arbitration with USADA rather than accepting the ban.

All athletes competing under the UFC’s anti-doping policy are afforded an adjudication process following a potential doping violation that can eventually lead to arbitration. The process can be a rather costly endeavor, however, and the fighters are responsible for any fees associated with an arbitration case with USADA.

Based on this latest statement, it appears Penne and her team have found some sort of middle ground with USADA regarding her fighting future, but until all sides have reached an agreement, no information will be made available to the public.