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Yoel Romero agrees to 6-month suspension after positive test

UFC middleweight Yoel Romero has agreed to serve a six-month suspension with the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

USADA officials announced the agreed-upon sanction Monday. The suspension is dated retroactively to Jan. 12, meaning Romero will be eligible to return as soon as mid-July.

Romero, 38, tested positive for the growth hormone secretagogue Ibutamoren on Dec. 16. A former Olympian for Cuba, Romero publicly stated the substance, which is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, was linked to a contaminated supplement he was taking at the time.

USADA officials stated on Tuesday it had independently confirmed Romero's claims, which led to a reduced sentence. Romero was facing a maximum two-year suspension.

"At USADA's request, the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah independently obtained and analyzed the contents of an unopened container of the supplement in question," USADA said in a statement. "That testing conclusively confirmed that a supplement Romero used was contaminated with Ibutamoren."

Last month, Romero's manager Malki Kawa told ESPN.com the two sides had been unable to agree upon a suspension length and Romero (11-1) intended to challenge the suspension in arbitration. This agreement puts an end to that possibility. Romero would have become the first UFC athlete to enter the arbitration process since the fight promotion launched its anti-doping program in July 2015.

"I would like to thank my family, friends, teammates and fans for sticking by me through this ordeal," Romero said in a translated statement. "With that said, yesterday I agreed to a sanction of six months suspension for taking a supplement five days after my last win that USADA has confirmed was indeed tainted.

"For those of you that believed me, I thank you. For the ones that didn't, I hope I have given you a reason to believe in hard work. As for the ones that tried to ruin my name, we will meet very soon."

Romero also stated he intends to take legal action against the supplement company that provided the tainted product.

Fighting out of South Florida, Romero is coming off a split-decision win against Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza at UFC 194 in December. ESPN.com ranks Romero the No. 3 middleweight in the world.