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Josh Barnett wins arbitration, avoids USADA suspension

UFC Fight Night: Barnett v Nelson Photo by Ken Ishii/Getty Images

Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett is officially able to return to mixed martial arts (MMA) after being cleared by an arbitrator in his case with United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), per an announcement by USADA earlier today (Fri., Mar. 23, 2018).

Barnett, who popped for the banned substance ostarine during an out-of-competition test administered on Dec. 9, 2016, becomes the first fighter to test positive and avoid suspension since USADA’s partnership with UFC began in 2015.

“On the evidence before me, the Applicant is not a drug cheat,” Richard H. McLaren, the chief arbitrator of McLaren Global Sport Solutions, Inc., wrote in his decision. “He unknowingly ingested a Contaminated Product. In doing so, he did commit an ADPV because he had a Prohibited Substance in his Sample but he did not actively engage in attempting, in any way, to engage in the use of a Prohibited Substance.”

Barnett, 40, was hoping to prove that the ostarine he tested positive for over one year ago was a product of contaminated supplements. Luckily for “Warmaster,” McLaren heard the case and agreed with the UFC heavyweight.

From the official USADA statement:

“Given the source was established to be a contaminated supplement, along with the athlete’s care and diligence concerning the nutritional products consumed, the arbitrator determined that a public reprimand was appropriate.”

Not too shabby. While most fighters would get burned in a spot like this, Barnett was able to prove his innocence, avoid suspension and a fine, and walk away with a measly public reprimand. It may have taken a long time to achieve this result, but it’s certainly worth it.

Assuming Barnett is looking to resume his fighting career as soon as possible, the depleted UFC heavyweight division will welcome him back with open arms. Barnett has produced a 3-2 record since returning to the promotion in 2013, including memorable finishes over former UFC champions Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski.

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