Since the UFC partnered with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to implement new and increased random drug testing beginning at last year’s UFC 189, we’ve seen several fighters test positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and get removed from their respective upcoming bouts, but we’ve never seen them flagged for the IV ban.
That is, until today (Mon., May 23, 2016) when the UFC and USADA announced that all-time great former lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn had been pulled from his return bout against Cole Miller at June 4’s UFC 199 from The Forum in Inglewood, California. The UFC released a statement with the details on their website:
“The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed BJ Penn of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation. Penn disclosed the usage of a prohibited method – the use of an IV in excess of 50 ML in a six-hour period – during a March 25, 2016, out-of-competition sample collection. In accordance with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, Penn has received a provisional suspension, and has been removed from his scheduled bout against Cole Miller on June 4 in Los Angeles.
“UFC will announce a replacement opponent for Miller shortly, and additional information will be provided by USADA and UFC at the appropriate time as the process involving Penn moves forward.”
Penn was set to make his return against Dennis Siver at 145 pounds, the weight class where he fought his last match in the Octagon, a 2014 TKO loss to Frankie Edgar at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 Finale. Miller replaced Siver when he was injured.
But now the UFC great’s latest comeback has been halted, as he will await a punishment that will in all likelihood include a suspension, something that’s obviously not the best of news for a 37-year-old legend. The UFC has recently made efforts to curb the drastic weight cuts MMA fighters often put endure by putting monumental strain on their bodies, and Penn was long known for struggling to make the lightweight limit of 155 pounds, let alone the featherweight cutoff of 145.
With further increased weight cutting standards and rules centered on the ‘eight percent rule’ going into effect at July’s UFC 200, it seems as if fighters are going to have fight closer to their natural weight than ever before. As of right now, Penn is the first casualty of the rules, including the IV ban, that should be nothing but a positive for the athletes competing in the UFC.
In the meantime, the UFC is in search of a replacement opponent for Miller at UFC 199, which features a middleweight title bout between Luke Rockhold and longtime veteran Michael Bisping. Dominick Cruz will face arch rival Urijah Faber for the bantamweight title in the co-main event.