UFC light heavyweight competitor Gian Villante has been provided with a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE) by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
Villante disclosed use of a Breo Ellipta (Fluticasone Furoate/Vilanterol) inhaler during an out-of-competition drug test being administered on January 18. Villante then tested positive for Vilanterol in the sample he submitted. The substance is banned at all times under the classification of Beta-2 Agonists under the UFC anti-doping policy that had adopted the banned substances list from the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Beta-2 Agonists are generally used in the treatment of health conditions such as asthma. However, they have also been used in the past for their ergogenic properties as well.
USADA officials then informed him that he would be subject to a potential doping violation as a result of the positive test in the absence of a therapeutic use exemption. The fighter then submitted documentation showing that his physician had prescribed a regimen of 14 days of the inhaler to help with conditions associated with airflow restriction and asthma.
In a statement, USADA officials wrote that USADA determined that the athlete had an unequivocally diagnosed acute medical condition for which the use of Vilanterol is consistent with the standard of care upon a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Villante’s use of Vilanterol, which included the retroactive TUE application process. The statement further reads that it was determined that the short-term use of the Breo Ellipta inhaler was within the manufacturer’s therapeutic recommendation and was intended to return the athlete to a normal state of health without providing a performance-enhancing benefit. The statement also reads that other permitted therapeutic alternatives were not successful at controlling the athlete’s condition.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency said his declaration of a prohibited substance and his subsequent positive test will not result in an anti-doping policy violation because the TUE application of Villante was granted retroactively. It was also communicated by USADA that Villante accordingly was eligible to compete on the UFC Fight Night Card in Fortaleza, Brazil, on March 11, 2017. Villante lost via knockout to former light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Ru.
Jeff Novitzky, UFC vice president of athlete health and performance, said the anti-doping policy violation was not previously announced because it immediately appeared in speaking with Villante that he had a legitimate medical use for the substance and UFC wanted the therapeutic use exemption process to play out in fairness to Villante before the public announcement. Novitzky added decisions on immediate UFC disclosures of potential violations are made on a case-by-case basis, balancing transparency and the fairness to the athlete in each case.
Over the past few weeks, this is the second retroactive therapeutic use exemption granted by USADA after it previously granted the same exemption to Cris “Cyborg” Justino following a positive drug test last year. Villante, just like Cyborg, applied for the retroactive therapeutic use exemption that was later granted and it prevented either of them from facing a doping violation from the UFC and the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
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