UFC 199 was supposed to mark the return to action of MMA legend and former two-division UFC champion BJ Penn, but in late May it was announced that the Hawaiian had been removed from the card after he was flagged by USADA for a potential anti-doping violation.
As it transpired, Penn had effectively turned himself into the agency, admitting to them that he had used an IV since being reintroduced to the drug-testing program. The 37-year-old UFC Hall of Famer, who has not competed since July of 2014, pleaded ignorance, claiming he did not realise that the use of IV’s had been banned in the time since his last fight.
“I voluntarily disclosed to USADA that during a non-fight period that I had an IV administered under the care of a doctor,” read a statement released to BJPenn.com.
“The rule for IV usage had changed since my last fight in the UFC and was unaware of the change and voluntarily disclosed the information to USADA. I had no idea that IV use was banned 365 days a year.
“At no time in my career in martial arts have I ever doped and anticipate all test results from USADA will come back clean and will be working with the UFC to get the matter cleared up and return to fight as soon as possible”.
On Monday, USADA announced that they have decided to suspend Penn for six months, retroactive to the date on which he admitted his infraction.
“USADA announced today that Jay Dee (“BJ”) Penn of Hilo, Hawaii, an athlete in the UFC, has accepted a 6-month sanction for an anti-doping policy violation for his use of a prohibited method.
During an out-of-competition test on March 25, 2016, Penn declared the use of an intravenous infusion of a non-prohibited substance. A subsequent investigation by USADA revealed that the intravenous infusion received by Penn was administered in a volume greater than 50 mL within a 6 hour period. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, intravenous infusions in a volume greater than 50 mL within a 6 hour period are prohibited, except for those legitimately received in the course of hospital admissions, surgical procedures or clinical investigations. Intravenous infusions received in any other setting require an approved Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
Penn, 37, voluntarily disclosed his use of the intravenous infusion and fully cooperated with USADA’s investigation into the circumstances regarding his violation. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy , the standard period of ineligibility may be reduced due to an individual’s voluntary admission of a violation and/or pursuant to an analysis of the individual’s degree of fault for the violation. Here, after taking both of those factors into consideration, USADA determined that a 6-month period of ineligibility was an appropriate sanction under the rules for Penn’s violation”.
This means that Penn will once again be eligible to compete on September 25th of this year.
Interestingly, the day before USADA made the announcement, Penn took to Twitter to call out Georges St.Pierre.
The Canadian welterweight great recently told Ariel Helwani that he was ready to return to competition and revealed that he felt capable of making the lightweight limit of 155lbs, although he also expressed interest in fighting recently crowned middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
The sound of GSP talking about a potential move down in weight was obviously music to Penn’s ears, and “The Prodigy” informed his former foe that he would be available for a lightweight clash at UFC 205 in New York on November 12th.
Hey @GeorgesStPierre if you can make 155 easily, I'm free in November and would love the opportunity to fight you at 155 pounds in New York.
— bjpenndotcom (@bjpenndotcom) June 27, 2016
Penn lost to St-Pierre on two previous occasions, in 2006 and later in 2009.