Jessica Penne accepts 20-month USADA suspension

Jessica-Penne
PhotoCred: Getty Images

UFC strawweight Jessica Penne has accepted a 20-month sanction from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for her second anti-doping policy violation.

USADA announced this development in a Friday press release.

Penne, 36, tested positive at trace levels for two metabolites of stanozolol, 16β-hydroxystanozolol and 3′-hydroxystanozolol, as the result of an out-of-competition urine sample she provided on April 8, 2019. Stanozolol is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and UFC Prohibited List.

USADA determined that a reduction to the otherwise applicable period of ineligibility was appropriate in this case due to the totality of circumstances, including the complexity of issues, as well as Penne’s participation in discussions with USADA following her initial public comments in January. Furthermore, under the current UFC Anti-Doping Policy, USADA did not pursue an enhanced sanction for a second violation because USADA determined that Penne was not intending to cheat when she committed her first violation, as her use of the prohibited anabolic agent dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in a dietary supplement was based upon the recommendation of her physician related to a medical issue.

During its investigation – and in an effort to determine a relative time period of stanozolol ingestion that caused her positive test – USADA also requested that the laboratory re-analyze Penne’s out-of-competition sample previously reported negative from April 4, 2019. The laboratory was able to conduct targeted analysis on the April 4, 2019 sample and subsequently identified trace levels for one stanozolol metabolite also found in her April 8, 2019 sample. The supplements that Penne submitted for analysis did not test positive for stanozolol. Upon notification of her positive test, Penne obtained a third-party laboratory result showing that a medication was the source of the prohibited substance in her sample. However, through working with the third-party laboratory and the WADA-accredited Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) in Salt Lake City, USADA determined that the initial results from the third-party lab did not adequately establish a source of the positive test due to the lab’s testing protocol.

Penne’s 20-month period of ineligibility began on April 8, 2019, the date her positive sample was collected.

Jessica Penne has been vocal about this tie-up with USADA, maintaining her innocence throughout. She previously feared this suspension would end her MMA career, and briefly used a GoFundMe campaign to help arbitration costs. 

This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 2/28/2020.