Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett has had a sordid past when it comes to drug testing in relation to his mixed martial arts career, but this time, he’s fighting back against a supplement company that is believed to have caused his most recent failure.
In December of 2016, Barnett was notified of a positive test result related to an out-of-competition sample collection under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy. It took until March of 2018 for an arbitrator ruled that Barnett’s positive drug test result was unintentional and most likely caused by a tainted supplement.
“On the evidence before me, the applicant is not a drug cheat,” the final arbitration ruling said about Barnett. “He unknowingly ingested a contaminated product. In so doing, he did commit an [anti-doping policy violation] because he had a prohibited substance in his sample, but he did not actively engage in attempting, in any way, to engage in the use of the prohibited substance.”
Barnett defeated Randy Couture to win the UFC heavyweight championship in 2002, but was later stripped after testing positive for steroids. He later had a planned bout with Fedor Emelianenko under the Affliction banner canceled after again testing positive for steroids.
In this latest case, with the arbitrator’s ruling finding him not at fault, Barnett is fighting back against what has become a serious issue for UFC fighters, who are required to make themselves subject to random drug testing. Several fighters have tested positive, only for it to later be found that it was likely a tainted supplement was the cause of the result.
The problem being, the fighter caught up in the case generally loses several months or more of his or her career while the case is adjudicated, as is what happened to Barnett. In his case, Barnett sat on the sidelines for 15 months while his case ran its course. He’s not okay with that, so he has opted to file suit against the supplement company that provided him with a tainted supplement, causing a positive result on his anti-doping drug test.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in Superior Court of California in Los Angeles, alleges that the tainted supplement caused Barnett to fail a routine drug test. According to the complaint, the tainted product, which was manufactured by Genkor, was labeled to solely contain a natural and legal plant derived supplement called Tribulus, which Barnett used as part of his fitness regime. In December 2016, however, a routine drug test conducted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) detected a dangerous anabolic agent, Ostarine, in Barnett’s urine. The resulting investigation conclusively traced the Ostarine to the contaminated Tribulus supplement manufactured by Genkor after Ostarine was also detected in a sealed package of the supplement that USADA purchased independently.
The suspension cost Barnett, who has a career 35-8 record, numerous expenses and professional opportunities, including a $275,000 purse for a UFC bout that he would have fought in September 2017, according to a statement released by one of Barnett’s representatives.
Barnett has retained Peter Fredman of the Law Office of Peter Fredman to represent him in the lawsuit.
Barnett has not fought since he defeated fellow former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in the main event of UFC Fight Night 93 on Sept. 3, 2016, in Hamburg, Germany.