Second USADA Sanction Behind Move of Sean O’Malley Fight to UFC 248

Sean O'Malley
Sean O'Malley Credit: Mike Fridley/

The Sugar Show has joined UFC 248, and now we know why: Sean O’Malley has been hit with another USADA sanction.

Just before Christmas, word broke that Sean O’Malley’s return to the octagon had been booked for UFC 247. News of a fight against Jose Quinonez was made public by none other than the ‘Sugar Show’ himself. But it appeared O’Malley had jumped the gun a little when the fight was later bumped to UFC 248.

The big question was, why? This week, we received the answer: Thursday evening, USADA (the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) distributed a press release revealing that O’Malley had received a second sanction after again testing positive for ostarine in out-of-competition samples collected back in August 2019. In fact, he tested positive twice. Ostarine is the very same substance that O’Malley tested positive for back in 2018, which led to his removal from UFC 229.

Ostarine is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM), similar to anabolic steroids but without some of their side effects. The substance is a known culprit in contaminated supplements. And this is actually the third occurrence of O’Malley testing positive for ostarine, although the second did not lead to any sanction under the UFC’s anti-doping policy, as it was believed that test stemmed from trace amounts left over from the original incident.

Now, O’Malley joins UFC 248, and no doubt hopes that all of this is behind him. It’s not pretty, however. The young fighter has lost nearly two years of his professional fighting career due mainly to supplement use.

USADA’s press release Thursday noted that “After a thorough investigation into O’Malley’s positive tests, including extensive follow-up testing, his agreement to keep a food log, his increased level of care in selecting supplements, and finding no evidence of intentional use, USADA resolved O’Malley’s case with a six-month period of ineligibility. O’Malley’s period of ineligibility began on August 6, 2019, the date his positive sample was collected.”

While O’Malley jumping through those hoops is admirable, one wonders if there’s any benefit to supplement use at all at this point. At least for athletes tested as extensively as those under USADA.

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