Featherweight BJ Penn has been pulled from his upcoming match at UFC 199 due to a "potential Anti-Doping Policy violation."
The 37-year-old Penn was originally slated to face featherweight Cole Miller. The fight would have marked his return to the octagon after a near-two-year hiatus.
Penn was pulled from the bout for using an IV "in excess of 50 mL in a six-hour period," which is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency for both in-competition and out-of-competition fighters.According to the agency's guidelines, the only exception to this rule applies to "those legitimately received during a hospital admission, surgical procedure, or as part of a diagnostic clinical investigation."
BJ Penn's removal is somewhat ironic considering his outspoken attitude toward drug testing in mixed martial arts. In an undated interview with Bryan Levick from Fight! Australia, BJ said if "I had my say, I would test all steroids, growth hormones, EPO, and all the other stuff that I don't even know exists."
However, BJ maintained his innocence. In a statement released on his website, Penn told fans that he was unaware of the rules and that he voluntarily disclosed to the USADA that he was using an IV under the care of a doctor.
"I voluntarily disclosed to USADA that during a non-fight period that I had an IV administered under the care of a doctor.The UFC, which is still looking for a replacement for Penn, issued a statement on his removal.
The rule for IV usage had changed since my last fight in the UFC and was unaware of the change and voluntarily disclosed the information to USADA. I had no idea that IV use was banned 365 days a year.
At no time in my career in martial arts have I ever doped and anticipate all test results from USADA will come back clean and will be working with the UFC to get the matter cleared up and return to fight as soon as possible."
"The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed BJ Penn of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation. Penn disclosed the usage of a prohibited method - the use of an IV in excess of 50 ML in a six-hour period - during a March 25, 2016, out-of-competition sample collection. In accordance with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, Penn has received a provisional suspension, and has been removed from his scheduled bout against Cole Miller on June 4 in Los Angeles.BJ Penn is one of the biggest names in mixed martial arts. He was central in helping the sport gain the attention that it has today, and has taken on some of the biggest names in MMA. Fighters such as Georges St-Pierre, Nick Diaz, Lyoto Machida, and Matt Hughes have all stepped into the octagon with BJ.
UFC will announce a replacement opponent for Miller shortly, and additional information will be provided by USADA and UFC at the appropriate time as the process involving Penn moves forward."
Penn is notable for fighting in five different weight divisions and for being one of only two fighters in UFC history (the other being Randy Couture) to hold a championship in two weight classes.
In his fifteen-year career, Penn has won 16 of his 28 fights, and only three of those 16 wins have gone to the judges.
Despite his past success, though, BJ Penn's career has been going downhill lately. Since 2010, he has only won one of his seven matches and is currently on a three-fight losing streak, his longest ever.
However, in Penn's defense, he was only finished once in the last six years.
UFC 199 is still set to go down from The Forum in Inglewood, California. The event will feature two title fights: a co-main event bantamweight championship fight between noted rivals Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber, and a middleweight bout between champion Luke Rockhold and challenger Michael Bisping.
UFC 199 will air June 4.
There is no news on when and if BJ Penn will be returning to the octagon.
[Image via Jon Super/AP Images]