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Raquel Pennington given six-month USADA suspension after disclosing use of banned substances

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Raquel Pennington explained that the banned substances was something prescribed by her doctor.

UFC 246: Holm v Pennington Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Yesterday the US Anti-Doping Agency announced that they had suspended former UFC bantamweight title challenger Raquel Pennington after she self-reported a doping violation. USADA’s statement regarding Pennginton partly read as follows:

Pennington, 32, self-reported the use of two prohibited substances – 7-keto-DHEA and AOD-9064 – to USADA on November 17, 2020. As the result of the declaration, USADA collected an out-of-competition urine sample from Pennington, and subsequent analysis was consistent with her declared use of 7-keto-DHEA. 7-keto-DHEA (7-keto-dehydroepiandrosterone) is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and AOD-9064 is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Peptide Hormones, Growth Factors, Related Substances, and Mimetics. Both substances are prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy and UFC Prohibited List.

During her self-report, Pennington provided information that she was prescribed and provided 7-keto-DHEA and AOD-9064 by a doctor to help treat a medical condition. 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. Pennington was eligible for a reduction to the period of ineligibility based on her forthright declaration prior to sample collection and for her Full and Complete Cooperation.

Pennington’s suspension is backdated to November 17, 2020, the date that she contacted USADA regarding her potential violation.

Pennington took to social media to further explain what happened.

“I went to my physician about a medical condition I was experiencing and was prescribed several medications to treat the condition,” claimed Pennington. “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 issues. 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 medications. This was simply me realizing a potential mistake and wanting to do the right thing.”

Pennington also said that she wanted to “apologize” to all her fans and make a public commitment to be “more careful in the future.”

“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.”

Pennington made it to the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey vs. Team Tate in 2013. Her pro debut in the Octagon was a unanimous decision win over Roxanne Modafferi. After dropping split decisions to Jessica Andrade and Holly Holm (either side of a technical submission win over Ashlee Evans-Smith), Pennington went on a four fight win streak that earned her a shot at gold.

The last win of that streak was an upset win over former champion (and her coach on TUF) Miesha Tate at UFC 205 in 2016. After the Tate win injuries sidelined Pennington for over a year. Her return fight was a title challenge versus Amanda Nunes at UFC 224 in May, 2018.

Nunes won the bout by TKO. Since then Pennington has gone 2-2 with losses to Holm and Germaine de Randamie and wins over Irene Aldana and—most recently—Marion Reneau.