USADA announced today that UFC Athlete Paulo Costa and one of his Athlete Support Personnel, Carlos Costa, of Contagem, Brazil, have each accepted a six-month sanction for violations of the UFC® Anti-Doping Policy for use and administration, respectively, of a prohibited method.
Based on video and other corroborating evidence, USADA determined that on June 2, 2017, Paulo Costa, 27, received an intravenous infusion (IV) of permitted substances, including saline solution and a stomach medication, of more than 100 mL per 12-hour period after weigh-in for UFC 212 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, without a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE). On November 3, 2017, Paulo Costa again received an IV infusion of permitted substances of more than 100 mL per 12-hour period after weigh-in for UFC 217 in New York City, New York, without a TUE.
Both infusions were administered by Carlos Costa.
In 2017, IV infusions and/or injections of more than 50 mL per 6-hour period were prohibited except for those legitimately received in the course of hospital admissions, surgical procedures, or clinical investigations under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List. In 2018, the rule changed with respect to the volume limit to prohibit IV infusions and/or injections of more than 100 mL per 12-hour period, except for those legitimately received in the course of hospital treatments, surgical procedures or clinical diagnostic investigations.
IV infusions and/or injections received above the limit in any other setting require an approved TUE. If a prohibited substance is administered intravenously or via injection, a TUE is necessary for the substance regardless of volume. Administration of IV infusions over the WADA volume limit, including dietary supplement and vitamin cocktails, provided to athletes for recuperation, recovery, or lifestyle reasons is prohibited at all times without prior TUE approval. In situations of medical emergency, an athlete may apply for a retroactive TUE.
IV infusions or injections are included on the WADA Prohibited List because they can be used to enhance performance by increasing plasma volume levels; to mask the use of a prohibited substance; and to distort the values of an Athlete Biological Passport. USADA has additional information regarding IV infusions available here. The evidence in this case corroborated Paulo Costa’s explanation that the purpose of his over-the-limit infusions was to recover from the effects of weight cutting prior to UFC 212 and UFC 217, not to mask the use of a prohibited substance.
Paulo Costa’s and Carlos Costa’s six-month periods of ineligibility began on August 10, 2018, the date Paulo Costa acknowledged receipt of these intravenous infusions. Both sanctions were reduced based on substantial assistance the Costas provided to USADA.
Paulo Costa’s use of a prohibited method on June 2, 2017 also falls under the jurisdiction of the Comissão Atlética Brasileira de MMA (CABMMA), which has recognized USADA’s sanction and will additionally fine Paulo $4,000 (1/3 of the UFC 212 purse), all of which will revert to his opponent in UFC 212. In addition, the New York State Athletic Commission has resolved Paulo Costa’s case arising from the November 3, 2017, IV with no period of ineligibility and a $9,333.33 fine (1/3 of the UFC 217 purse). Neither Commission will impose any additional sanction on Carlos Costa.
Under the rules, any decision concerning competition results is handled by the relevant Commissions and UFC.
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. Many of the resources available to athletes are provided in multiple languages, including Russian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, and Japanese.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 1 877-Play Clean (1-877-752-9253), or by mail.
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