Canadian middleweight Marc-Andre (Power Bar) Barriault is blaming a positive drug test on tainted supplements.
And the mixed martial artist is getting help from the UFC.
Barriault (12-4-0) said he was told last week by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that a test June 20, when he stopped Poland's Oskar Piechota in the second round on a UFC card in Las Vegas, was positive for the banned substance Ostarine.
The Nevada commission issued a temporary suspension to the Canadian fighter, which was extended at a hearing Wednesday to the commission's next meeting Sept. 3.
"First and foremost, I want to make things crystal clear, I did not intentionally use Ostarine, nor have I ever knowingly used any prohibited substance in my career," the 30-year-old Barriault said in a statement.
Barriault, a native of Gatineau, Que., who fights out of Quebec City, said the test was positive "for an extremely low level (approximately 190 picograms or 190 parts per trillion) of the prohibited substance, Ostarine."
Jeff Novitzky, the UFC's senior vice-president of athlete health and performance, said Ostarine has been found in supplements.
"It's a big problem issue that we've seen in our program," he said in an interview. "What we've seeing is very low-level positives and Marc's positive (test) was in that category ... It's a very very very small amount.
"Look that doesn't mean that you couldn't have caught an athlete at the tail end of the excretion, from intentional use. But more times that not, under our program, what we're seeing is these low-level positives are the result of using a supplement that was contaminated at a very low level."
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency serves as the independent anti-doping agency for the UFC, testing fighters in and out of competition. But the Nevada commission also tests fighters in its jurisdiction and carried out the test on Barriault.
The two organizations use the same WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City.
Novitzky said the UFC is working with Barriault to "try and find the culprit," using a detailed list of the supplements he had been taking.
"He insists — and thus far has given me no reason not to believe him — that not only has he never done Ostarine, but (he) never really heard of the substance."
Novitzky said they are looking at supplements taken recently given Barriault says he has been tested three times by the Quebec athletic commission and seven times under the UFC/USADA program — always testing negative.
The hope is Barriault can provide more information to the Nevada commission at its September hearing to avoid a longer suspension. Novitzky says Nevada has a lot of experience in dealing with Ostarine and potential contamination.
"I really don't have any concerns he's not going to get a fair shake here," said Novitzky. "Nevada is pretty good at that."
Ostarine is the trademarked name for a Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator (SARM) that is not approved for human use.
Ostarine is comparable to an anabolic steroid but without the side-effects. Novitzky said this group of drugs is primarily in the clinical testing stage in the medical world, seen as an alternative to anabolic steroids used to treat muscle-wasting diseases.
Novitzky said it is an unlikely choice for cheaters, given it lasts a long time in the body and is easily detected in drug tests.
Barriault said he is hoping for the best.
"While I am extremely disappointed in this development, I am looking forward to finding a definitive explanation for my low-level positive test, to fully co-operating with the NSAC and to getting back to work in the Octagon soon," he said in his statement.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2020.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press