Former UFC title challenger Raquel Pennington has been suspended for six months by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, the UFC’s official anti-doping partner.
Pennington today revealed that a suspension was forthcoming, and the agency shortly after issued a formal announcement, following a self-reported violation of the UFC’s anti-doping policy by the 32-year-old women’s bantamweight.
Pennington was found to be using the prohormone 7-keto-DHEA and the peptide AOD-9064, both of which she said were prescribed to her by a doctor to treat a medical condition. Unfortunately, both substances are prohibited at all times under the UFC’s policy.
According to USADA officials, “after using the substances for a short period of time, she conducted research and learned that they were prohibited substances and immediately came forward about her use to USADA.” While Pennington faced a potential two-year sanction, she was granted a reduced order “based on her forthright declaration prior to sample collection and for her Full and Complete Cooperation” USADA officials confirmed.
Pennington’s period of ineligibility began on Nov. 17, the date she declared the use of the substances, leaving her eligible to return in May.
Pennington (11-8 MMA, 8-5 UFC) last fought in June, picking up a decision win over Marion Reneau at UFC on ESPN 11. She currently sits at No. 8 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie women’s bantamweight rankings.
Pennington’s full statement is below (via Instagram):
I wanted you to hear this from me first. This morning, USADA will be announcing a violation I committed of the UFC anti-doping policy. Here are the facts. I went to my physician about a medical condition I was experiencing and was prescribed several medications to treat the condition. Unfortunately, I took the medications for a brief period of time, before realizing I should have checked on their status under the program. I soon discovered that these medications may be prohibited, so I immediately stopped taking the medication and contacted the UFC to report this potential issue. I want to make it very clear that there was nothing that forced me to report this to UFC, and ultimately USADA. No one knew about this except myself and my physician and USADA had not collected a sample from me since I started the medications. This was simply me realizing a potential mistake and wanting to do the right thing. As USADA’s forthcoming statement will show, I fully cooperated with them and provided them with 100% honesty. I was not trying to cheat, skirt the rules or trying to gain a performance advantage. I was simply trying to treat a medical condition and made the mistake of not timely checking the status of these medications. I want to apologize to all of my fans and publicly make the commitment that I will be much more careful in the future and not let this happen again. I hope that I can serve as a role model in showing that we all make mistakes, but it is what you do after realizing those mistakes that define your true character. I believe that my actions shown in these events show everyone what I am made of, and while I regret making this mistake, I am proud of how I handled this and hope that you are of me as well. Thank you for your understanding and your support. #TeamRocky #BeBackInMay
Following the announcement, UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky took to Twitter to emphasize Pennington’s willingness to be transparent as her case was investigated, taking a quote from her statement (via Twitter):