The UFC is having a bit of a tough time of late with their top athletes getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs. A decent amount of top male athletes have been suspended over the last two years for using these banned substances, and now one of the more prominent female fighters for the UFC has been busted as well.
Jennifer Maia, a flyweight fighter in the UFC, has recently been suspended from all competition for at least half a year after she failed a drug test according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
The announcement of this suspension happened in January 2019, and while the USADA has been clear about the fact that Maia did not pop positive for any specific type of anabolic steroid they did say that her test came back positive for diuretic medications. These kinds of medications are frequently used to “flush the system” of professional athletes that have been cycling anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. These supplements are frequently found in those that are hoping to get rid of all traces of performance-enhancing substances before they have to take a test.
The substances that Maia was busted for are primarily used to treat hypertension, and another is used to eliminate the fluid buildup that can because by cases of edema. Maia has not been known to have been medically diagnosed with either of these two conditions.
More commonly, however, the substances that Maia was busted for have been used by competitive bodybuilders looking to “make weight” in the lead up to a competition. These substances have been used to help athletes then out, lean up, and drop weight quickly so that they can enter competitions at lower weight classes before adding back the weight they quickly lost to lift – or, in this case, fight – with extra strength, endurance, and force.
In the case of Maia, however, the six-month suspension is rather unique – particularly for the UFC which hasn’t spared any of their top superstars from receiving long-term suspensions if they violate the performance-enhancing drug policy that the company instituted almost from day one.
The reason Maia has been able to get off with such a light sentence (comparatively) is that the USADA and the UFC independently investigated whether or not she was using these substances intentionally and found that she had not knowingly consumed prohibited substances.
Instead, Maia was using an over-the-counter weight loss supplement sold by a Brazilian company – a supplement called Slim Shape 7 – that was supposed to have only contained seven all-natural herbs and ingredients, none of which were banned by the UFC or the USADA.
But the Brazilian company manufacturing this product was actually found to have been injecting these banned substances into this formula in an effort to improve the effectiveness of their weight loss supplement, without ever disclosing this information to any of their customers or consumers.
The USADA and the UFC purchased unopened bottles of this supplement to test at their WADA accredited laboratory in Rio de Janeiro. This is where they discovered that these samples had been tainted, that Maia was not directly at fault for taking advantage of banned substances, and that she had in fact unknowingly been dosed with these PEDs.
Thankfully, the UFC has decided to retroactively apply the suspension that had been handed down to Maia. This means that she will be eligible to fight after February 28, 2019 – effectively turning this six-month suspension into a 30 day suspension and allowing her to compete at her next scheduled fight without any hindrance.