UFC legend BJ Penn has been pulled from his UFC 199 fight with Cole Miller on June 4th after becoming the first fighter on the roster to be caught out for using an IV.
“The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed BJ Penn of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation,” a statement from the UFC said. “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.”
IV’s had been used in the sport legally for many years as a way to quickly rehydrate, making it popular with fighters who were cutting a lot of weight.
USADA were keen to cut out the practice of extreme weight cutting however, and banning IV’s was one way to do that. It should also be noted that IV’s have been used as a masking agent for blood samples, which could potentially hide PED use.
For his part, Penn has issued a statement stating that he wasn’t aware that the IV ban applied out-of-competition.
“I voluntarily disclosed to USADA that during a non-fight period that I had an IV administered under the care of a doctor,” Penn said in a statement on his own website.
“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.”
This story becomes more peculiar when you take into consideration the fact that Penn had publically rejoiced when news that USADA would be implementing an IV ban was announced last year.
“I love the new PED and IV ban in the UFC,” Penn wrote on Twitter in July of 2015. “I never took an IV in my life after a weigh-in. IVs are for wimps! #BeerAndHotDogs It’s the biggest joke ever. If you aren’t sticking needles in your arm to fight the guy gets a 15 pound advantage. #FightLikeAMan #TwoBelts #HallOfFame #NoIV #NoPED #(: #gottabearecord.”
Even stranger, Penn actually appeared on ‘The MMA Hour’ show on April 20th, almost a month after he’d admitted to USADA that he’d used an IV, and categorically stated that he’d never used one.
“I’m very excited with USADA in,” Penn said on the show. “They’ve got no IVs. I think this is my chance, man. I think this is my f**king chance, right here. This is my best chance, right now. I’m going to make a comeback. USADA era. No IV. Never used an IV. Never used PEDs. Now is the time. Now is the freaking time.”
Penn’s latest bump in the road comes just a few months after latest comeback to the UFC was put on hold temporarily while the promotion investigated allegations that the former lightweight and welterweight champion had sexually assaulted the girlfriend of a former writer at his website, BJPenn.com.
The 37 year-old was then given the all-clear to compete after the subsequent investigation into the matter ended due to a lack of evidence.