Four Fighters Including Nicco Montano, Sean O’Malley Suspended Six Months by USADA

Nicco Montano UFC
Nicco Montaño Credit:

A foursome of UFC athletes have accepted six months suspensions from USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) following the use of supplements tainted by banned substance Ostarine.

Augusto Mendes, Marvin Vettori, Sean O’Malley, and inaugural UFC women’s flyweight champion Nicco Montano have all agreed to suspensions for trace amounts of ostarine, a press release from USADA announced Tuesday. While O’Malley announced a failed USADA test via social media previously, and had been suspended by the NSAC, the remaining fighters had mostly flown under the radar, as the anti-doping organization no longer announces when athletes fail tests.

As a result, Tuesday’s announcement comes as something as a shock. In all cases, USADA deemed the presence of ostarine consistent with a contaminated supplement. As for the drug itself, “ostarine is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. Ostarine, also known as MK-2866 and Enobosarm, is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that is illegally sold worldwide as a performance-enhancing substance. Ostarine is not currently available as a prescription medication in any country and its unauthorized use may carry serious side effects.”

Despite that, USADA has frequently pointed out that ostarine is a favorite among supplement makers, as it has been found as both a declared and undeclared ingredient in many dietary supplements.

All of the fighters announced as receiving sanctions Tuesday will be serving retroactive suspensions, meaning they are already eligible to begin competing, or will be soon. Brazil’s Augusto Mendes (6-2), who has not fought since 2017, saw his period of ineligibility backdated to March 20, 2018.

Italy’s Marvin Vettori (12–4–1) last fought in April 2018, and has had his period of ineligibility backdated to August 24, 2018. Undefeated (10-0) Sean O’Malley’s period of ineligibility began September 19, 2018. It’s worth noting that he tested positive twice, but the amount of ostarine detected in two samples taken close together are believed the represent a single occurrence.

Nicco Montano (4-2), who has not fought since she won the UFC women’s flyweight title in 2017 (she was later stripped of the belt), is the most recent offender. Her suspension has been backdated to November 15, 2018.

In all four cases, that start of the period of ineligibility coincides with the date the fighter was provisionally suspended after testing positive for the banned substance.