Ion Cutelaba was training for a bout against Michal Oleksiejczuk at UFC 217, but was then notified of a potential violation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and provincially suspended.
USADA announced that Cutelaba has now accepted a six month suspension by the organization and that announcement was made via the following press release:
USADA announced today that UFC® athlete Ion Cutelaba, of Chișinău, Moldova, has accepted a six-month sanction after declaring the use of an alternative therapeutic treatment that is prohibited under certain routes of administration.
Cutelaba, 24, declared the use of ozone therapy on his doping control paperwork during out-of-competition tests conducted on October 18, 2017, and October 19, 2017. Ozone therapy is a treatment that can be administered in a variety of methods, some of which are prohibited under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.
Based on Cutelaba’s doping control paperwork, USADA contacted the athlete to request more information about the route of administration in order to establish whether the treatment was permissible. Cutelaba’s physician subsequently provided documentation indicating that the treatment was administered on October 3, 2017, and October 17, 2017, in a prohibited manner, as it involved a blood transfusion. The WADA Prohibited List prohibits the administration or reintroduction of blood or red blood cell products of any origin or quantity in the circulatory system, unless a valid Therapeutic Use Exemption has been obtained. While Cutelaba was unaware of the violation and declared the treatment on his doping control paperwork, he was unable to refute the documentation provided.
Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, as well as the World Anti-Doping Code, an athlete’s period of ineligibility for using a prohibited method may be reduced due to an individual’s voluntary admission of a violation and/or pursuant to an analysis of the athlete’s degree of fault for the anti-doping policy violation. Here, after taking both of those factors into consideration, USADA determined that a reduction to six-months from the standard two-year period of ineligibility was an appropriate sanction under the rules for Cutelaba’s violation.
Cutelaba’s six-month period of ineligibility began on November 3, 2017, the date he was provisionally suspended from competition. As a result of his violation, Cutelaba was previously removed from the Card for the UFC 217 event in New York City that was held on November 4, 2017.
Pursuant to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, all UFC athletes serving a period of ineligibility for an anti-doping policy violation are required to remain in the USADA registered testing pool and make themselves available for testing in order to receive credit for time completed under their sanction.
USADA conducts the year-round, independent anti-doping program for all UFC athletes. USADA is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental agency whose sole mission is to preserve the integrity of competition, inspire true sport, and protect the rights of clean athletes. In an effort to aid UFC athletes, as well as their support team members, in understanding the rules applicable to them, USADA provides comprehensive instruction on the UFC Anti-Doping Program website (https://UFC.USADA.org) regarding the testing process and prohibited substances, how to obtain permission to use a necessary medication, and the risks and dangers of taking supplements as well as performance-enhancing and recreational drugs. In addition, the agency manages a drug reference hotline, Drug Reference Online (https://UFC.GlobalDRO.com), conducts educational sessions, and proactively distributes a multitude of educational materials, such as the Prohibited List, easy-reference wallet cards, and periodic athlete alerts.
Along with education and testing, robust anti-doping programs enable investigations stemming from tips and whistleblowers. USADA makes available a number of ways to report the abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in sport in an effort to protect clean athletes and promote clean competition. Any tip can be reported using the USADA Play Clean Tip Center, by email at [email protected], by phone at 1877-Play Clean (1-877-752-9253), or by mail.
The drug testing program gave Cutelaba a reduced suspension since the fighter came forward and admitted that he had used illegal substances.
Since the suspension is retroactive to the date of the failure, a return for Cutelaba is possible on May 6 of this year.