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Josh Barnett reacts to avoiding USADA suspension: ‘The time I lost can never be regained’

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Arlovski vs Barnett Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

The mixed martial arts (MMA) world received a nice surprise earlier this week when it was revealed that former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett had avoided a lengthy suspension at the hands of United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after an independent arbitrator determined his failed drug test from December 2016 was due to tainted supplements.

While Barnett only walked away with a “public reprimand,” the process took a whopping 15 months to find a solution. Barnett maintained his innocence the entire way through, but the outcome is still bittersweet for the heavyweight veteran.

Following the news of his avoided suspension, which is the first for a fighter who tested positive under USADA rule since its UFC inception in 2015, Barnett posted a brief message to Twitter to discuss his initial emotions and future prospects:

There’s really no argument against Barnett in this case. The 40-year-old veteran certainly has other means of making money, but fighting is Barnett’s bread and butter. It seems unfair and unethical to force him to sit on the sidelines for 15 months for taking a banned substance that was later found to be unintentionally ingested.

Considering Barnett’s case is the outlier when it comes to winning a battle with USADA, a lesson can be learned here. The process that is currently in place needs to change so fighters in the same position as “Warmaster” aren’t subjected to lengthy layoffs for fighting the system they’ve been forced to take part in.

Whether that means quicker secondary testing or faster arbitration hearings, the results of these such battles really should be determined in half the time.

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