USADA puts BJ Penn’s UFC comeback on hold

So much for the comeback of Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Famer BJ Penn.

The former two-division champion has been removed from his scheduled UFC 199 bout against Cole Miller due a potential violation of the organization’s anti-doping policy.

“The UFC was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed BJ Penn of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation,” a statement released by the UFC late Monday read. “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, out-of-competition sample collection.”

A provisional suspension has been issued against the Hawaiian fighter, who debuted in the UFC at age 22 and won his first belt when he was 25.

The organization is seeking a replacement opponent so Miller can remain on the June 4 card, which is scheduled to take place in Inglewood, California.

Penn issued a statement on his website shortly a

fter the announcement.

“I voluntarily disclosed to USADA that during a non-fight period that I had an IV administered under the care of a doctor,” he wrote. “The rule for IV usage had changed since my last fight in the UFC and (I) 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.”

An IV ban went into effect on Oct. 1, 2015 as part of the UFC’s anti-doping policy, which is independently administered by USADA. Fighters are generally only allowed to have IVs administered in medical emergencies unless they have been granted a therapeutic use exemption.

The ban has mostly been discussed in terms of fighters re-hydrating after extreme weight cuts. It goes beyond that, however.

During an interview last year, USADA CEO Travis Tygart explained the ban was part of the anti-doping policy USADA administers independently of the UFC because athletes in the past, most notably cyclists, have used them to deceive collectors.

“Putting a bag of saline over 50 ml, for example is the rule, would potentially mask or alter the blood testing that was done,” Tygart told The MMA Hour. “And there were examples in there where athletes would put a bag of saline in their arm when they saw the blood collectors coming to collect their blood. And they just delayed reporting for 15 min. So, that was really the purpose behind the rule.”

Penn, 37, won the welterweight belt in 2004 before capturing the lightweight title in 2008.

He retired in 2012, but returned at featherweight and lost by third-round knockout to Frankie Edgar in July 2014.

Penn has lost his last three fights and is 1-5-1 in his last seven bouts.

He was training with several UFC stars at Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico to prepare for his return to action.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj

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