USADA responds to Machida

There is a widespread sense that US Anti-Doping Agency sanctions in the UFC are not entirely what had been expected. Mixed martial arts suffered historically from widespread use of PEDs. The UFC secured the services of USADA as an independent testing and punishment service, and it is clearly having an effect. However, a look at the USADA list of suspensions reveals that a majority are for things that were not understood to be a problem.

•Lyoto Machida: 18-month suspension Anabolic Agent 11/16/2016
•George Sullivan: 1-year suspension Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 11/08/2016
•Jon Jones: 1-year suspension Clomiphene, Letrozole 11/07/2016
•Adam Hunter: 15-month suspension; Loss of results Meldonium 10/21/2016
•Abdul-Kerim Edilov: 15-month suspension; Loss of results Meldonium 10/21/2016
•Nate Diaz: Public Warning Cannabidiol 10/06/2016
•Li Jingliang: No Fault Clenbuterol 09/02/2016
•Augusto Montano: No Fault Clenbuterol 08/31/2016
•Ning Guangyou: No Fault Clenbuterol 08/09/2016
•Ricardo Abreu: 2-year suspension; Loss of results 19-norandrosterone 07/29/2016
•Islam Makhachev: No Fault Meldonium 07/27/2016
•Chad Mendes: 2-year suspension; Loss of results Growth Hormone-Releasing Hexapeptide 07/20/2016
•BJ Penn: 6-month suspension Intravenous Infusion 06/27/2016
•Tim Means: 6-month suspension, Loss of Results Ostarine 06/10/2016
•Diego Brandao: 9-month suspension, Loss of Results Carboxy-THC 05/19/2016
•Yoel Romero: 6-month suspension Ibutamoren 04/04/2016
•Gleison Tibau: 2-year suspension; Loss of Results erythropoietin (EPO) 02/18/2016
•Mirko Filipovic: 2-year suspension – Loss of Results Human Growth Hormone (hGH) 11/25/2015

BJ Penn took an IV, Nate Diaz vaped Cannabidiol, Diego Brandao smoked marijuana, Jon Jones took generic Cialis tainted with a non PED, three fighters took Meldonium, and three fighters ate meat that was tainted with traces of Clenbuterol.  But MMA was not suffering from a Cannabidiol, marijuana, generic Cialis, Meldonium, and Clenbuterol-tainted meat problem.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida was recently suspended for 18 months after disclosing that he was taking an over the counter supplement 7-Keto. This was a reduction of six months from the standard two-year suspension for a first time failure, as Machida voluntarily disclosed the information, and did not know it was prohibited. The fighter protested the decision on his social network, and then protested further during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour.

“I [didn’t know] it was a banned substance, since I bought it over the counter at a supplement store, when it stated on its label 60 vegetarian capsules,” said Machida.

“When the UFC brought USADA in, I thought it was to instruct and educate all the fighters. But instead they came in to punish in a very unreasonable fashion.”

Now in an interview with Marc Raimondi for MMA Fighting USADA spokesperson Ryan Madden offered a rebuttal.

“Sometimes, I suppose, it’s just easier for the athlete -€” at least from a public relations standpoint -€” to accept the sanction and then try to control the narrative in the media,” said Madden. “It’s unfortunate for sure, but that’s what we’re seeing here.”

“The idea that Mr. Machida wasn’t properly educated is just flat-out false.”

“The short version is that the whole situation would have been avoided if Mr. Machida had simply used the resources made available to him to ensure that his use of a product -€” called 7-Keto -€” was permitted under the UFC Anti-Doping Program.

“It would have been really easy, all he has to do was visit GlobalDRO.com -€” a resource that all athletes receive education on -€” and search for 7-keto. He also could have reached out to us directly. Either way, within minutes, he would have been able to determine that this product was not safe to use under the Program.”

“The athlete in this case did not utilize any of the resources available to him -€” resources that he has been educated on numerous times -€” to determine the status of the product before taking it.”

“So while it may be a convenient sound bite to say, ‘well, I didn’t know’ or ‘I wasn’t educated enough’ the reality is that as an organization we can only provide athletes with the resources and the information to be successful. How seriously they take it, how engaged they choose to be in the process, and how diligent they choose to be in their actions is up to them. And if athletes are going to delegate out these educational responsibilities, they have to stay engaged.”

However, if you go to GlobalDRO.com, it is not as simple as Mr. Madden indicates. First, you select your country.

If Machida selected Brazil, he would be directed to http://www.consultealista.abcd.gov.br/

There is a requirement to list your sport. MMA is not listed. Mixed martial arts is not listed. Vale Tudo is not listed. UFC is not listed. There is a “Lutas Associadas” but that’s wrestling.

If you check off Lutas Associadas, and you agree with their terms of service, searching for 7-keto gives you:
Sem informação disponível, não existem resultados para ‘7-keto’
My Brazilian Portuguese is terrible, but it means “no information available.”

So spokesperson Ryan Madden is factually incorrect. It is not as he said “really easy.”

If Machida had checked his nationality as USA, he would be taken to http://globaldro.com/US/search

There is a requirement to select User Type, Sport, and Nation of Purchase. It won’t work unless you select sport. But mixed martial arts and MMA are not listed.

Airsports
Archery
Badminton
Baseball-Olympic
Basketball
Biathlon
Bobsled
Boccia
Bowling
Boxing
Canoe
Curling
Cycling
Diving
Equestrian
Fencing
Field Hocke
Figure Skating
Goalball
Golf
Gymnastics
Ice Hockey
Judo
Karate
Luge
Modern Pentathlon
Motocross
Nordic Combined
Paralympic Alpine Skiing
Paralympic Archery
Paralympic Basketball
Paralympic Boccia
Paralympic Curling
Paralympic Cycling
Paralympic Fencing
Paralympic Goalball
Paralympic Nordic Skiing
Paralympic Powerlifting
Paralympic Rugby
Paralympic Shooting
Paralympic Sled Hockey
Paralympic Soccer
Paralympic Swimming
Paralympic Table Tennis
Paralympic Tennis
Paralympic Track and Field
Paralympic Volleyball
Racquetball
Roller Sports
Rowing
Rugby
Sailing
Shooting
Skeleton
Ski (Cross-Country)
Ski (Freestyle)
Ski (Jumping)
Skiing
Sled Hockey
Snowboard
Soccer
Softball
Speedskating
Squash
Swimming
Synchronized Swimming
Table Tennis
Taekwondo
Team Handball
Tennis
Track & Field
Triathlon
UFC
Volleyball
Water Polo
Water Skiing
Weightlifting
Wrestling

It turns out USADA does actually “Trane UFC.” Of every sport listed, only one is the name of a league, not the name of the sport. So again, even if Machida selected his nationality as USA, it still isn’t easy.

This example is exactly the problem. USADA thinks it is easy, and will suspend people who fail to follow the easy steps. But it’s not easy. USADA needs to get better at fighter education, as Machida noted. And they should start with educating themselves. For the record, USADA guys, the sport is not called UFC.

Only fools claim to “trane UFC.”

Iain Kidd writing for BE identified yet another failure on the USADA spokesman’s part.

“It’s probably also worth noting that those levels were not just slightly elevated, but more than 15x higher than what we would expect to see from an individual who was not using this particular prohibited substance,” said Madden to Raimondi.

Kidd took Madden to school.

“DHEA can be converted into steroid hormones, 7-keto-DHEA cannot,” explained Kidd. “This is a very important distinction. Claiming Machida’s sample contains 15x more DHEA than a normal person is an accusation that could cause significant harm to his reputation. After I pointed out the factual inaccuracy of this statement to Marc Raimondi and the USADA spokesman, USADA then informed me they planned to amend their claim.”

USADA are supposed to be the experts. They hold fighter’s livelihood’s in their hands. Yet they are making factually incorrect statements. With errors like these, USADA’s ability it ethically administer suspensions is very much in question. It is USADA that should perhaps face suspension.