We've had nearly a week to digest the news regarding Alycia Baumgardner and her positive drug test for two banned steroids.
Baumgardner tested positive for mesterolone (also known as Proviron) and methenolone acetate (also known as Primobolan) in a pre-fight drug test conducted by Drug Free Sport just days before her July 15 unanimous decision win over Greece's Christina Linardatou.
Baumgardner Questions Legitimacy of Failed Test
Baumgardner issued a statement on X (Twitter) on August 16.
“On August 12, 2023, I was informed that an “A Sample” I proceed on July 12, 2023,, resulted in an “Adverse Analytical Finding” of mesterolone and methenolone acetate metabolites, two substances I've never heard of or used in any way. The sample provided immediately after my fight on July 15, 2023,, tested clean and negative for all banned substances, as did my sample on June 16, 2023, which makes the July 12 result essentially impossible.
“To be abundantly clear, I know that I never have, never would, and never will take this or any other drug. Not only would doing so be unethical, but it would also be completely contrary to how I've trained my entire career.
“As a professional athlete, I and I alone am responsible for what I put in my body, and my body is a template. I am also a proud role model for any young woman or girl who seeks to follow in my footsteps. I take those responsibilities very seriously – which is why I know that I did not and would never put these substances in my body.
“I have a lot more to say about my journey and why the very idea of me taking an illegal, banned, or even dangerous substance would never make sense. So I have no intention of sitting back in silence and letting this “play out.” I plan to keep you all updated every step of the way as I work to ensure my reputation as a clean athlete remains fully intact.”
Is The Test Result Impossible?
Baumgardner said in her statement that her positive drug test was “essentially impossible” because her post-fight test was clean, along with a sample she submitted on June 16. We hear a lot about a drug’s “half-life,” but not much explanation into what it is. The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the amount of a drug’s active substance in your body to reduce by half.
According to Public Lab, a nonprofit science wiki site, mesterolone has a half-life of 12-13 hours, and Primobolan, which can be taken orally or via injection, has a half-life of 5-20 hours in tablets and 4-7 days in injections. This is different from detection time. A test conducted by a team of eight scientists in 2011 showed that mesterolone was detectable in screening up to nine days after the administration of one capsule. And per Anabolic Co., Primobolan’s detection time is within 4-5 weeks.
So one drug can be detected for over a month and the other for just over a week.
Now let’s go back to Baumgardner’s statement. She reported a clean drug test on June 16. Four weeks from that date was July 14, the day before her fight, and she tested positive on July 12. As we’ve reported previously on NYFights, the timing of these tests can be a determining factor in whether one sample is positive or negative.
Contamination Possible For One Substance Found
Tennis player Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine was provisionally suspended in January 2021 after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found that her out-of-competition urine sample” contained a metabolite of mesterolone.
Yastremska denied any wrongdoing in a statement released on Twitter. “I have never used any performance enhancing drugs or any prohibited substances,” the Ukrainian wrote. “I am astonished and under shock, particularly given that two weeks prior to this test, I tested negative at the WTA event in Linz.
“Only a very low concentration of mesterolone metabolite was detected in my urine. Given that low concentration and my negative test two weeks earlier, I have received scientific advice that the result is consistent with some form of contamination event.”
After several failed appeals, Yastremska eventually succeeded five months later. An investigation by an independent tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme found no fault or negligence on Yastremska’s part.
Per multiple sources in the field, the negative, positive, negative series of tests are suspicious because an anabolic steroid would likely stay in the system longer than the amount of time between the positive and follow-up negative test, suggesting contamination.
As for Primobolan, it could take a lot of work for Baumgardner to explain this one.
The United States Food and Drug Administration banned the drug from entry into the United States more than 34 years ago, along with more than 40 other anabolic steroids. The FDA did approve a small number of anabolic steroids as “prescription drugs,” which may be prescribed only by licensed practitioners for “legitimate medical purposes.” Of the 21 drugs that made the list, Primobolan was not one of them.
“You can’t prescribe it in the United States, so if you test positive for it here, there’s no getting away with it,” said the late Dr. Gary I. Wadler, longtime anti-doping expert, and member of the World Anti-Doping Agency in an interview with The New York Times in 2009. “It’s also not manufactured by the human body, so if it shows up, it’s like flashing red lights going off. You’re caught with your pants down.”
For the most part, Primobolan is a black-market drug. So now the question becomes, how did Baumgardner get this substance in her system, and who provided it?
How Baumgardner answers this last question could determine future punishment. ‘Well, I was told this tablet was just Vitamin C and other minerals.’ Stating that you have no idea how it got into your system could be a better alternative than throwing the testing agency under the bus.
Now that this ordeal has become a legal matter, it will be up to the attorneys involved to prove that Baumgarder unknowingly ingested the substance.
Baumgardner Demanded Drug Testing
Why would someone call for drug testing if they were actively committing wrongdoing? That’s an excellent question and could be used as an argument by Baumgardner to guard her reputation. Many athletes are aware of the existence of drug testing within their respective sports and are still willing to push the envelope. However, Baumgardner has been vocal throughout the process, insisting she has done nothing wrong.
Baumgardner stated on social media that she asked for VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) testing, but her request was denied. Baumgardner did not provide any further details.
Drug Free Sport Sued In The Past
Drug Free Sport, the company that conducted Baumgardner's tests, was sued in 2014 by its former vice president for allegedly mishandling tests. Andrea Wickerham accused her former employer of improperly handling an NFL player’s July 2013 drug test because it did not want to risk losing the league as a client.
She claimed she was terminated after she brought her concerns to the company’s founder and now-former president, Frank Uryasz.
In the same NYT report, Uryasz adamantly denied the allegations and defended his entity as “an ethical, values-based company.”
“Drug Free Sport is being accused by a former, disgruntled and resentful employee of acts and events that simply did not occur.”
Uryasz did not return a voicemail left by NY Fights.
Six Months Enough Punishment?
There will likely be some form of punishment. This is her first offense, so this could give Baumgarder some much-needed leverage. If we look back to Canelo Alvarez and his positive clenbuterol tests, he received a six-month suspension. Baumgardner had two substances in her system, one which could potentially be argued was of no fault or negligence by the fighter. I don't see the Michigan Unarmed Combat Commission giving her more than a six-month ban.
Baumgardner (15-1, 7 KOs) avenged her lone career loss to Linardatou, but it's possible the bout could be changed from a unanimous decision win for Baumgardner to a no-contest. Furthermore, the 29-year-old also faces the possibility of being stripped of her undisputed championship, which she earned last October in a 10-round split decision triumph over then-undefeated two-belt champion Mikaela Mayer.