The victory of Holly Holm, the new UFC bantamweight champion, over Ronda Rousey at UFC 193 is under scanner after one of the most conspicuous congratulations coming from Intel Pharma.
The Texas-based company, which is one the sponsors of Holm, deals in supplements that are advertised as containing substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). A message on the homepage of Intel-Pharma’s website read, “Congratulations,’’ and “We always believed!’’. Supplement seller JAK Nutrition saluted on the company’s Facebook page, “Congrats to Holly Holm and Team Intel-Pharma!!’ Check out our full line of Intel-Pharma products!!” Some products for sale are labeled as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMS) that are considered as steroid alternatives and on the banned substance list of WADA.
Don Catlin, a renowned anti-doping expert, remarked the business relationship of Holly Holm with Intel Pharma is “a pretty bad idea.’’ Victor Conte, founder of the Bay Area Lab Co-Operative (BALCO) that offered illegal and legal supplements to athletes, remarked Holm's business relationship with Intel-Pharma is a concern in the wake of her stunning, second-round knockout over Rousey on Saturday in Australia. Conte added there should be concern when products are being sold with a disclaimer stating that they are not for human consumption and to use them at your own risk.
Rousey was sponsored by Gaspari Nutrition between 2012 and 2014 in whose products Catlin said he found anabolic steroids. Catlin added he made the discovery when he tested the product in 2005 for a story by the Washington Post about the supplement industry.
In reply, Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s manager, remarked both he and Holm were before they signed the sponsorship deal that the company sold products that contained banned substances. Fresquez remarked the first question he asked them was how many of these products were banned, and they were up front about it and went on to add that Holly didn’t really use them so it is not a big deal. Fresquez also said he is very much sure that Holm did not use any of them and there is a possibility that she might have taken a picture with one. The manager of Holm also said the sponsorship arrangement with Intel Pharma was a deal for just one fight and he and Holm have decided not to extend the arrangement. Fresquez added his job is to get whatever the best thing is for Holly and now that people have raised this concern we’ll definitely take that into consideration more carefully in going forward.
In a statement, UFC said athletes, as independent contractors, are free to accept endorsements and sponsorships from supplement companies that do not conflict with their contractual obligations at official UFC events. UFC's statement read it has provided both athletes with extensive education on the UFC anti-doping program, and extensive education on the dietary supplement industry. It was further added that they are both aware that they are liable for any substances put into their body, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and still must adhere to the requirements set forth by the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.