Former heavyweight champ Josh Barnett has been in the sport so long, his name is spray-painted on a parking spot in the lot at the UFC’s offices.
But he’s sick of the crap he’s had to endure because of USADA, so he asked for, and got, his release from the UFC.
If you’ll recall, Barnett was flagged for a violation and put on suspension, and it took 20 years (not really) for USADA to come to the conclusion that Barnett had in fact used a tainted supplement and wasn’t at fault. Technically, Barnett could jump back into the heavyweight pool and resume swimming with the sharks… but he ain’t about that life as long as USADA is in the water, too.
As per ESPN:
“It’s true that I have asked for my release and we are discussing the terms now,” Barnett said. “Zuffa [parent company of the UFC] has been fantastic and above-board since I re-signed with the company [in 2013]. Every promise made has been kept and I have no disparaging words for them.”
Barnett (35-8) said his request was based upon a lack of trust in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which oversees the UFC’s anti-doping program.
In late 2016, Barnett failed an out-of-competition drug test administered by USADA. The agency sought a four-year suspension, despite evidence the result of the test was caused by a legal, contaminated supplement.
Barnett ultimately took the case to an independent arbitrator, and became the first UFC athlete to successfully appeal a USADA sanction through an arbitration process.
That process took 15 months, however, and Barnett said he did not feel comfortable re-entering the UFC’s testing pool, which would be required if he ever wanted to fight in the Octagon again.
“After everything I went through with USADA, and my vindication in that case, I don’t feel comfortable giving the control necessary to USADA that would continue my career in the UFC,” he said.