Jessica Penne Takes USADA To Task, Announces MMA Retirement

Former UFC title contender Jessica Penne blames USADA for ending her MMA career after handing her a second suspension for failing a drug test.

Former UFC strawweight title contender Jessica Penne announced her retirement from active competition after receiving a four-year suspension from USADA.

Penne, who fought for the belt in 2015, is set to turn 37 years old later this month. She is a former Invicta FC atomweight champion and was also involved in the first women’s MMA bout in Bellator.

Injuries, and a suspension for failing a drug test, have limited Penne to just two bouts since 2016. Both were losses to Danielle Taylor and former champion Jessica Andrade.

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Penne’s management team also offered a statement:

“It is disgraceful what is happening to Jessica Penne by USADA. We are all for a clean sport but the system has flaws obviously and they need to be addressed. We have had the support of the UFC team and they have been behind us nonstop to prove our case but it seems that common sense and human decency is not black and white.”

Here is a statement from the USADA on the first positive test result by Penne:

USADA and the Tennessee Athletic Commission announced today that UFC athlete Jessica Penne, of Chula Vista, Calif., has accepted an 18-month sanction for an anti-doping policy violation after testing positive for a prohibited substance.

Penne, 34, tested positive for the presence of an anabolic androgenic steroid of exogenous origin following an out-of-competition urine test conducted on March 20, 2017. Exogenous anabolic androgenic steroids are classified as non-Specified Substances in the category of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and the Tennessee Athletic Commission Act of 2016, both of which have adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

Although Penne’s sample was initially reported as negative for prohibited substances on the standard out-of-competition testing menu, upon review of Penne’s Athlete Biological Passport, the sample was subsequently flagged for additional analysis due to an increased degree of variability in urinary biomarkers measured in the sample. Sophisticated carbon isotope-ratio mass spectrometry (GC/C/IRMS) analysis confirmed the presence of a synthetic anabolic agent in Penne’s sample. Before the reanalysis of her sample was completed, Penne fought at the UFC Fight Night event in Nashville on April 22, 2017, an event sanctioned by the Tennessee Athlete Commission.

Upon notification of her positive test, Penne immediately identified a supplement she was using at the direction of her physician as the source of the prohibited substance detected in her sample. After a thorough review of the case, including the examination of medical records provided by the athlete, USADA and the Tennessee Athletic Commission accepted Penne’s explanation that her positive test was caused by dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), an exogenous anabolic agent, which had been recommended to her by her physician.

Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, as well as the World Anti-Doping Code, an athlete’s period of ineligibility for using a prohibited substance may be decreased if the athlete lacks significant fault for the anti-doping policy violation. In this instance, although Penne was not successful in her attempt to obtain a retroactive or prospective Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) for DHEA after her positive test, it was determined that her degree of fault was reduced because her use of the prohibited substance was under the care of a physician. Accordingly, Penne received a corresponding reduction to 18-months from the standard two-year period of ineligibility for a non-Specified Substance under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

Penne’s 18-month period of ineligibility began on April 23, 2017, the day following her most recent competition.

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