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Kelvin Gastelum suspended by USADA for second doping violation for marijuana

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Former UFC middleweight title contender Kelvin Gastelum has accepted a nine-month suspension from the United States Anti-Doping Agency following a positive drug test stemming from his last fight at UFC 244 in New York on Nov. 3, 2019.

His suspension was later reduced by five months after he completed a drug treatment program.

According to USADA officials, Gastelum tested positive for THC — the psychoactive element from marijuana — which serves as his second anti-doping policy violation after previously facing a suspension in 2017 after testing positive for the same drug.

“Gastelum, 28, tested positive for 11-nor-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (Carboxy-THC) over the Decision Limit of 180 ng/mL, a urinary metabolite of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis, marijuana, and/or hashish as the result of a sample collected in-competition at UFC 244 New York, New York on November 3, 2019,” USADA officials said in a statement. “Cannabis, marijuana, and hashish are Specified Substances in the class of Cannabinoids and prohibited in-competition under the UFC Prohibited List.

“Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, Cannabinoids are considered Substances of Abuse. If an athlete can establish that the Substance of Abuse was not used to enhance his or her performance in a bout, the athlete is eligible for a reduction to his or her period of ineligibility upon the full and satisfactory completion of an approved rehabilitation program. Gastelum also tested positive for Carboxy-THC in 2017 and accepted the resulting sanction.”

Because Gastelum took advantage of the drug treatment program his suspension was lessened by five months. His suspension was backdated to Nov. 3, 2019, which means Gastelum is already cleared to return to action.

His previous anti-doping policy violation was also reduced from six months to 90 days after Gastelum completed a similar drug treatment program.

Gastelum could potentially face a separate penalty from the state of New York, which is where his fight took place this past November. The New York State Athletic Commission has not announced any further sanctions for Gastelum as a result of the positive drug test.

Following the announcement, Gastelum addressed the suspension on Twitter.

Just recently, Gastelum told MMA Fighting that he suffered a full tear in the LCL in his knee, but the injury did not require surgery as he targeted a summer time return to the UFC.

UPDATE: The New York State Athletic Commission has now confirmed that Gastelum will not face any further suspension as a result of his positive drug test. The commission noted in their statement that Gastelum is facing a medical suspension currently that is expected to be completed shortly.

“The Commission is fully aware of these circumstances, which were considered in the administrative actions taken against Mr. Gastelum in November 2019,” the New York State Athletic Commission said in a statement sent to MMA Fighting.

“Mr. Gastelum has since resolved all the administrative requirements related to those specific circumstances. Mr. Gastelum’s ongoing medical suspension is unrelated, and is anticipated to be resolved soon.”

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