ROUNDTABLE: What punishment should Yoel Romero be expecting from USADA given tainted supplement defense?

Yoel Romero (photo credit Gary A. Vasquez © USA Today)

What punishment do you expect USADA to hand down to Yoel Romero given his alleged evidence of a tainted supplement being the cause of his failed out of competition drug test?


He should be suspended for two years per the UFC’s Anti-Doping Policy, and if the UFC and USADA are smart, that is exactly what they’ll do. Trying to figure that policy out, by the way, is like trying to make sense of Dennis Miller’s take on pretty much anything. It’s complicated. I review archaic and asinine laws of the country that read like Fun with Dick and Jane when compared to this piece of work. If the UFC gives him a break, they’ve set precedent for giving fighters a break who unknowingly take tainted supplements. They encourage blindly taking whatever, or worse, seeking out mislabeled steroids knowing there’s a chance you can get off with a slap on the wrist if you’re caught. The athlete is responsible for what he puts his body.

As far as Romero is concerned, for one minute, let’s just throw out the fact that I don’t buy what he’s selling. Let’s throw out the fact that Romero is 38 years old and has the ridiculous physique of an elite athlete ten years older and in his prime. Romero is a professional prize fighter whose ENTIRE LIVELIHOOD is dependent on not getting popped for PEDs. What kind of moron are you if you’re not randomly throwing down supplements and trusting what’s in them? You’re a moron that deserves a suspension for not making sure your supplements didn’t contain testosterone or its derivatives for some extra pop.

If any of the hundreds of athletes who have claimed contaminated supplements over the years was telling the truth, fighters and their managers would have learned a long time ago to either test this stuff and/or eliminate any supplements they weren’t 100% sure of. And yet athletes who test positive for PEDs continue to claim “tainted supplement” or “contaminated supplement” or “unknowingly ingested” because for whatever reason they expect the public to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s like they say, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me umpteen hundred times with the same idiotic excuse and either I belong on the short bus for believing it, or you do for expecting me to.

This is the type of issue that needs a hard line when it comes to willfully ingesting a supplement that is later found to contain prohibited substances. Unfortunately Section 10.5 of the Anti-Doping Policy provides some mitigating factors based on degree of fault. Specifically, Romero is throwing up a prayer that he can use and get his punishment reduced to a reprimand. This section, titled Contaminated Products, allows for a punishment ranging anywhere from a stern scolding (reprimand) to the entire two year suspension. The degree of fault determines how much of a reduction, if any, in punishment there is. While there is something to be said for factors beyond a reasonable person’s control, it just becomes hard to believe that athletes are accidentally taking tainted supplements on a regular basis. Is this something I need to be concerned about, as someone who buys stuff of the shelves? Or is this just semi-common in some sort of elite supplements that only professional athletes know about or have access to. I’m just not buying it. Because there’s a provision for it, now every athlete who gets popped can show up at an appeal with a blue vial of who knows what from who knows where and claim it was an accident in hopes of getting publicly scolded and nothing else.

I call shenanigans. You want me to believe you Yoel? What supplement was it? How did you figure out it was tainted? What lab did you have it tested at to find out it was the cause? Are you suing them now based on the fact their contaminated pills may end up costing you hundreds of thousands of dollars? If this is the truth, then throw it out there. Keep other athletes from mistakenly taking the same thing and endangering their careers by warning them it’s out there. A perfectly good reason for not naming the company/supplement in question is because there isn’t one. He can’t very well pick one at random and publicly blame them either. That’s a defamation lawsuit if it’s not true (it’s not true). Sorry “Soldier of God,” not for PEDs Jesus. I’m not sure how the UFC’s going to handle it. I hope they throw the book at him, but I could see a reduction as well. Either way, he’s out a minimum of a year, and hopefully two.


I think they give him a year suspension, retroactive to the failure. I think they do that because it’ll take him that long to prove that it was a tainted supplement that caused this failure. If he can’t prove that, then I think they give him an additional year suspension. I don’t think they’ll give him a two year suspension because I think this takes a long time to play out and they’ll give him time served basically. Either way, he’s not going to be fighting for the UFC anytime soon.


I’m a Romero mark, as I’ve been entranced with his physical skills since he first fell onto my radar. Even with that said, anyone who said they were surprised he popped for a PED are either lying or are as dense as a concrete slab. Have you seen the guy’s physique?

Romero is presenting a unique case from what we’ve seen before by trying to have the supplement in question tested by USADA to prove that he unknowingly took the PED and I like the strategy. I don’t think it will get him off the hook if the supplement proves to be tainted, but I can see USADA being more lenient with the penalty that they intend to hand down to the former Olympian. I see him getting a year which will leave him ready to make a comeback at the New Year’s card.

The situation I do take issue with is with Tim Means. Apparently his B sample hasn’t come back yet. Isn’t the lack of a B sample what led to Cung Le getting his test failure overturned? Rather than shame Means’ name permanently with the accusation based on the A sample failure, why not wait until the B sample came back? Granted, I know that he was scheduled to fight a bit more than two weeks out in a headliner when the news broke and the UFC couldn’t have him fighting knowing he had failed the first test (especially with the recent spotlight on Vitor Belfort fighting Jon Jones despite a known failed test way back at UFC 152). So why not lie about it and say that he got hurt? If it turns out he is innocent, he doesn’t have that cloud hanging over him. If the B sample is dirty, come clean (see what I did there?).

[Photo (c) Gary A. Vasquez via USA Today Sports]

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