Tough break for Valerie Letourneau as she's going to have to find a new cornerman for her UFC 193 title fight against strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. That's the official word from USADA it seems, who have stepped in to tell Letourneau that she'll need to look for a new fighter to corner her and potentially a new training partner as well. Not long after the UFC's USADA partnership began Mike Coughlin over at HalfGuarded.com took an in-depth look at the partnership's far reaching anti-doping policy. Most particularly the rules surrounding how fighters could interact with suspended athletes.
It looks like that problem in particular is now coming to Letourneau's front door, as USADA Director of Communications Annie Skinner made plain in speaking to MMAJunkie.
"We are aware of the relationship between Ms. Letourneau and Mr. Lombard, and we have been in contact with both of them to advise them of the rules in regards to prohibited association. After being informed of the rules regarding prohibited association, Ms. Letourneau has since confirmed that Mr. Lombard will not be cornering for her or serving in any other prohibited capacity during his sanction."
While this isn't necessarily surprising, considering it's spelled out pretty plainly in the USADA policy, it does run counter to claims made by the VP of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novitzky. Novitzky went on the record to say that the policy was intended to prevent coaches who might be in a role to advise or distribute PEDs to athletes, not fighters who had been busted and were still working in the gym.
However, it looks like the rule in practice is going to be a lot more "by the book" and in this case, the book means no Hector Lombard cornering Letourneau at UFC 193, and potentially no work in the gym either. Although, to that last point, Letourneau did say "I'm never going to change with whom I train because they get caught with something, and that doesn't change them as a person, too."
Apparently, neither she nor Lombard are going to be punished for working together in the past, as long as they take heed of USADA's warning and stop working together in the immediate future.