Holly Holm is being questioned over her sponsorship deal with a company that allegedly manufactures health supplements that contain steroids.
The new UFC bantamweight champion’s sponsorship deal with Intel Pharma is being scrutinized, as the company is said to be selling four supplements that are categorized as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, according to JAKnutrition.com. The supplements were considered steroid alternatives and were banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the agency that sets anti-doping guidelines. The U.S Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which serves as UFC’s drug program administrator, adheres to rules and regulations set by the WADA.
— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) November 17, 2015
Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s manager, told the New York Post that the fighter is not using any of the four banned supplements.
“I’m sure she didn’t use any of them. She might have taken a picture with one.”
According to Intel Pharma CEO Landon Suggs, the Texas-based company stopped producing the banned products since June. They have already issued a recall, but some are still being sold online.
Renowned anti-doping expert Don Catlin believes Holm’s affiliation with Intel Pharma is a bad idea. Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Lab Co-operative or BALCO, the company that provided athletes both legal and illegal supplements, also shared the same opinion as Catlin, saying Holm’s relationship with Intel Pharma is alarming.
— Victor Conte (@VictorConte) November 17, 2015
“This looks highly suspicious,” Conte told USA Today Sports. “This is crazy stuff.”
Conte added that one of the supplements contain prohormone, a substance banned in the U.S. since 2005.
Fresquez admitted he and Holm knew the company was selling products that are on the banned list. He said the company was transparent in dealing with them.
“The first question I asked them was how many of these products were banned, and they were upfront about it,” Fresquez said.
It is still unclear whether they will extend their business deal with Intel Pharma since their sponsorship with the company was a one-fight deal.
“Now that you’ve raised this concern, we’ll definitely take that into consideration more carefully in going forward,” Holm’s manager stated.
Holly Holm mentioned Intel Pharma on her two Instagram posts thanking the company for the supplements. In another Instagram post, she proudly shared that she uses the company’s amino acid formula Azid, which helped her get “leaner, harder and keep training as intense as ever!”
Bodybuilding.com explains that Azid is an anabolic performance BCAA that alleviates muscle fatigue and helps to speed up recovery from training. The product is not one of the items labeled as SARM, which are likened to the anabolic steroids whose effects are similar to that of testosterone.
Rousey had faced the same controversy during her UFC reign. She had a business sponsorship with Gaspari Nutrition from 2012 to 2014, a company that allegedly made steroid-containing supplements. She has submitted nine separate samples for testing, and her drug test results came back clean.
— USA TODAY Sports (@USATODAYsports) October 14, 2015
Jeff Novitzky, a former federal agent of the Federal Drug Administration who is now overseeing the anti-doping program of the UFC, assured that Holly Holm was also tested and her samples were clean.
Novitzky said they have a strict implementation of anti-doping rules and regulations among athletes, and the agency has even warned them of the downside of using supplements.
“Almost all of our athletes use some sort of supplement, whether it be a vitamin or protein or whatever, and I cannot advise them enough about how careful they need to be based upon what I saw in the industry, based upon how the FDA was regulating it or enforcing it. It’s a real dangerous area,” Novitzky elaborated.
Holly Holm has not yet issued a statement regarding the issue.
[Image by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images]