Why Greg Hardy thought it was OK to use an inhaler during his fight

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 18:  Greg Hardy reacts after his decision victory over Ben Sosoli in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at TD Garden on October 18, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Greg Hardy reacts after his decision victory over Ben Sosoli in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at TD Garden on Oct. 18, 2019 in Boston. (Getty Images)

Controversy has been Greg Hardy’s constant companion in the UFC.

On Friday at TD Garden, even what appeared to be a routine, though lackluster, unanimous decision victory for the ex-NFL star over Ben Sosoli was tinged with controversy. The verdict was initially announced as a unanimous decision victory with Hardy winning by scores of 29-28 on the cards of Lars Borssen, Sal D’Amato and Marcell Varela.

But between the second and third round, Hardy took a puff on an inhaler that he takes to treat asthma. The inhaler contains Albuterol, which is a bronchodilator that relaxes muscles in the airways and increases air flow to the lungs.

When Hardy entered the UFC’s anti-doping program, he informed USADA of the medications he was taking and a USADA representative told him it is not banned.

USADA never approves substances for use, but will tell athletes if it is banned.

On Thursday at his pre-fight physical, Hardy informed the doctor for the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission that he was taking Albuterol via an inhaler for his asthma.

When he went to the corner, Hardy asked the inspector for the commission who was in his corner if he could use his inhaler. The inspector asked if it was medically approved and Hardy said, “Yes, by USADA.” The inspector then gave permission and that’s where the issue came up.

Albuterol is allowed at all times by USADA, not to exceed 800 micrograms per 12 hours, which comes out to about 10 puffs. Approval whether to permit its use in a fight is then is strictly up to the presiding commission.

The inspector did not have the authority to approve the user of the inhaler; only members of the commission have that authority. But because he was a representative of the commission, commissioners determined afterward Friday that it would not be fair to disqualify him and instead called the bout a no-contest.

Hardy, who used his inhaler on the sidelines during his NFL career, as other players did and still do, felt he’d taken all the right steps to be approved.

“I was in the ring, me and my coach asked the commission if it would be OK to use my inhaler and they said yes, so I took it,” Hardy said. “I’m still new guy in this sport, I did what I do in every situation: I asked permission, I got permission and I did what I was told.”

Had the commission approved the use of the inhaler beforehand, it would not have been an issue and the win would stand. He would have been disqualified if he had simply taken it in the corner without permission from the commission and without asking the inspector. But because he asked the inspector and the inspector responded affirmatively, he was given leniency and not disqualified.

Hardy was disqualified in his UFC debut in January for an illegal knee.

Hardy’s manager Abraham Kawa told Yahoo Sports they have not decided whether to appeal the decision.

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