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USADA ends ostarine suspension of UFC strawweight Ribas

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency is continuing to adjust UFC doping cases involving the prohibited substance ostarine.

On Friday, the UFC's anti-doping partner announced it has terminated the suspension of strawweight Amanda Ribas, who tested positive for ostarine in 2017 and was given a two-year suspension in January 2018. But with the existence of more sensitive testing, the USADA now believes Ribas did not intentionally ingest the drug and it came from a tainted supplement.

"The trace amounts of ostarine found in Ribas' sample was made possible by sensitive laboratory detection capabilities and has been followed by four negative tests," read a USADA statement. "As Ribas was unable to identify the source of her positive test, and taking into consideration the likelihood that her positive test was the result of an ostarine contaminated dietary supplement product, USADA believes it is fair to allow Ribas to return to competition after serving the majority of her two-year sanction."

Ribas (6-1) signed with the UFC in 2017 and was scheduled to make her debut against Juliana Lima at the finale of "The Ultimate Fighter 25" in July of that year. The 25-year-old was removed from the card due to the positive drug test.

She would have been eligible to return to the UFC on June 7, since her two-year suspension was retroactive to the date of the drug test. Now, as far as the USADA is concerned, Ribas can compete in the Octagon immediately. However, the Brazilian fighter is still under suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for the same positive drug test.

NSAC executive director Bob Bennett told ESPN that the commission has been in touch with the USADA and will "take into consideration" the agency's information. Bennett said termination of a suspension would require a hearing in front of the commissioners.

Ribas' manager, Alex Davis, confirmed that the fighter is targeted for a matchup with Emily Whitmire at UFC Fight Night in Minneapolis on June 29, which was first reported Friday by the Brazilian outlet Combate.

"We'd like to thank USADA for finally clearing her and realizing that her positive test was not due to [performance-enhancing drug] use, but was due to contaminated supplements," Davis told ESPN. "Unfortunately, by the time they realized this, 95 percent of her suspension had been done and a good portion of her career had been wasted. We're thankful her suspension is lifted. We understand these things are not perfect. We're sure she's going to be a future star in the UFC."

Last week, the USADA announced reduced six-month suspensions for four fighters -- including former women's flyweight champion Nicco MontaƱo and prospect Sean O'Malley -- who tested positive for ostarine. None of the four, like Ribas, had been able to provide evidence of a tainted supplement. But the trace amount they tested positive for, which the USADA is now able to see more clearly with new science, made it likely the positives did not come from intentional ingestion, the agency said.

Former UFC fighter Tom Lawlor, who was released from the promotion last year, tested positive for ostarine in February 2017 and was suspended for two years. The USADA said last week that Lawlor "might have been eligible for a lower sanction" had his positive test occurred now, with the agency having new science at its disposal.

Ostarine is a selective androgen receptor module (SARM) that has effects similar to those of anabolic steroids. The USADA frequently has found it unlisted in dietary supplements in the four years the agency has run the UFC's anti-doping program. Per the USADA's release, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has increased efforts to stop the spread of SARMs in supplements, and the USADA is supporting legislative efforts, including the SARMs Control Act, to "improve the Drug Enforcement Agency's ability to act against SARMs."