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Barnett: USADA ‘trying to find ways’ to punish fighters is ‘excessive’

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Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett felt that USADA was trying to go after him personally.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett was able to receive some form of redemption after the results of his USADA arbitration came out late last week. Instead of a supposed four-year ban for testing positive for Ostarine in December 2016, the 40-year-old fighter was merely issued a public reprimand by the agency.

Barnett felt he was able to prove his innocence through the results of the arbitration. Now, he is directing his attention at USADA, whom he criticized for the entire process of handling his case.

”It felt like [USADA was saying], ‘OK, he’s proved this was a tainted supplement; how do we go after him another way?’” Barnett told ESPN. “They were just moving the goalposts back until they had something, which is incredibly backward from this idea of creating an equitable, fair environment.”

”Maybe [USADA] felt I was someone who would look good to punish, but more likely I think it’s the concept of results,” he added. “I think the best results this program could have is no one tests positive anymore — that the system works and people operate within it.”

”But I think we got hung up on the negative, this idea of finding offenders and issuing punishments. The punishments have somehow become an indicator of how well the program is performing, more than anything else.”

USADA has been implementing its stringent drug testing policies since it partnered up with the UFC in June 2015. Barnett, however, feels that the agency can go overboard at times, as he hopes his case would be a catalyst for some changes in the system.

”Bureaucracies are big, unwieldy animals that hardly ever shrink or alter their course, but I do hope my case changes some things,” Barnett said.

”It’s difficult enough to have to sit out and wait and have these supplements tested. That is hard enough for a fighter. For an agency to then try and find ways to punish them or create a guilty party out of it, it’s excessive.”

Barnett (35-8, with 29 wins by stoppage) last fought in September 2016 in Hamburg, where he stopped fellow ex-champion Andrei Arlovski via third-round submission.

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