With under two weeks to go until UFC 199, the Mixed Martial Arts organisation has been forced to alter its plans for one bout after BJ Penn admitted to violating U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) policy.
The UFC Hall of Famer, who hasn't fought since 2014, was scheduled to make a comeback from retirement at the June 4 pay-per-view in a featherweight bout against Cole Miller.
Now, though, the UFC have announced his suspension and removal from the event after the veteran fighter "voluntarily admitted" to IV use that is prohibited under USADA regulations.
SIGN UP NOW
Want to become a GMS writer? Sign up now and submit a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay4
In an official statement on their website, the UFC wrote:
“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."
The news marks the second occasion Penn's return to the octagon has been delayed.
The former Lightweight and Welterweight champion was initially expected to fight at UFC 197 only for an investigation into criminal allegations against him - specifically, sexual assault allegations - to force those plans to be shelved.
Speaking via his official website, the 37-year-old claimed the latest setback was as a result of a simple mistake, and denied ever doping during his martial arts career:
"I voluntarily disclosed to USADA that during a non-fight period that I had an IV administered under the care of a doctor," he said.
“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 have already said they are looking to find a replacement fighter to take on Miller but the loss of Penn is yet another example of the organisation having to change plans at late notice.
It was only at UFC 198 a couple of weeks ago when Anderson Silva was forced out of a fight just days before the event due to health concerns.