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Josh Barnett would rather take four-year suspension than be ‘burned at the stake’ by USADA ‘witch hunt’

UFC Fight Night: Ultimate Media Day Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Josh Barnett was flagged by United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) roughly one-year back, after “The Warmaster” tested positive for Ostarine.

The substance was later found to be part of a tainted supplement, but USADA threw the book at Barnett after factoring in his previous drug test from 2009. Not even the promise of a reduced sentence — 18 months, to be exact — was enough to settle the case.

“To be honest, I don’t trust them in any way, shape or form,” Barnett told MMA Junkie. “I have no interest to work with them or be a part of their program. When you can’t trust someone, what are you supposed to do? Continue to give them the opportunity to break your trust? They don’t seem responsible enough to have oversight over my career.”

USADA is no stranger to criticism, following positive tests from former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, among others. In fact, Mir went so far as to accuse the governing body of gearing up tests to justify checks.

Barnett concurs.

“I feel like this isn’t anything about fighter safety or sanctity of sport,” he continued. “This is more about using a witch hunt on a personal level. Maybe punishing people, to them, represents effectiveness (rather) than being about athlete safety and finding issue with tainted supplements.”

Barnett (35-8) hasn’t been seen since submitting Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 93 in late 2016. At age 40, a four-year suspension would be a serious detriment to his combat sport future, especially for a fighter who isn’t ready to call it quits.

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