What’s next for Ryan Garcia following his one-year PED suspension?

Boxing

Ryan Garcia has been suspended one year following his positive tests for the performance-enhancing drug ostarine — retroactive to his April 20 majority decision victory over Devin Haney that has been overturned to a no-contest — after the boxing star reached a settlement with the New York State Athletic Commission, the commission told ESPN on Thursday.

Garcia, 25, also forfeited his purse, the commission said. Garcia’s disclosed purse was $1.2 million, sources said, which is what he will relinquish, though his guaranteed earnings were millions more. The commission said it also fined Garcia $10,000.

Garcia (24-1-1 NC, 20 KOs) floored Haney three times during the bout, in Rounds 7, 10 and 11. Garcia was ineligible to win Haney’s WBC junior welterweight title and now Garcia will be sidelined for at least one year. Garcia’s attorney, Paul Greene, told ESPN last month that he hoped for a four-month suspension or less.

“My whole thing is I’d rather tell the truth than try to fabricate it with a lie because lies don’t stand,” Garcia told ESPN last month before the B-sample returned positive. “So if I really did take [ostarine], I would be like, honestly, I was going through a weird situation. I wasn’t really that confident. I chose to take it. I’m sorry. And that’s it. But I didn’t and I hate cheating. … All I can say is legal team, help me figure this out.”

While the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association administered the doping tests, VADA does not adjudicate punishment. That was up to the New York State Athletic Commission, under whose rules the fight took place.

Garcia and Haney enrolled in VADA testing ahead of their fight, meaning both boxers were randomly tested multiple times in the lead-up. Athletes are required to submit whereabouts forms so that collectors can find them anywhere.

“Whoever got caught doping and admitted it?” Haney said last month on “SportsCenter.” “I think he would have been the first in history.”

Haney was as much as a -900 favorite, per ESPN BET, before he entered the ring at -575 after Garcia was 3.2 pounds overweight. Haney was ESPN’s No. 6 pound-for-pound boxer, a slick fighter who was the undisputed lightweight champion.

Haney (31-0-1 NC, 15 KOs) had never been on the canvas in 31 pro fights before he faced Garcia. One judge scored the bout even, 112-112, but was overruled by 114-110 and 115-109 scorecards for Garcia.

Now that Garcia is suspended for one year, what comes next?


Why was Garcia suspended for one year?

Garcia avoided a hearing with the commission and instead accepted a one-year suspension, a harsh penalty that will prevent the star boxer from competing until April 20, 2025. Garcia already forfeited $600,000 to Haney after he missed weight and will now lose another $1,210,000, bringing the total to $1,821,000.

“It is a harsh result,” Haney’s attorney, Pat English, told ESPN. English, who has worked in boxing for 40-plus years, has worked on numerous PED cases. “I have never seen a $1.2 million forfeiture or anything remotely close to it.”

With such a high-profile case closely being monitored, the commission surely felt a responsibility to mete out punishment and prove it wasn’t favoring a star boxer. It did just that with a costly penalty that will hopefully deter PED use in the future.

When Canelo Alvarez, boxing’s top star, was suspended six months in 2018 for the banned substance clenbuterol, the short length drew criticism. After all, most boxers at that level compete just twice a year anyway.

Garcia fought twice last year, a KO loss to Gervonta “Tank” Davis in April, and a KO victory over Oscar Duarte in December.


What was Garcia’s defense?

According to the New York State Athletic Commission’s rules, when a fighter tests positive for a banned substance, they have the “right to a fair hearing” where “the burden is on the athlete to come forward with evidence that rebuts the presumption of doping.”

The commission adheres to “strict liability” in regard to anti-doping.

“The combatant is responsible for anything that he/she puts in their body,” the rules read. “If the combatant takes supplements and later tests positive, it is the combatant’s responsibility.

“The combatant should be aware that the supplement industry is poorly regulated and studies have shown that some supplements are contaminated with steroids. If a prohibited substance is detected in the combatant’s sample — even if it was unintentional — it will result in a violation of NYSAC rules.”

Garcia claimed just that: supplement contamination. It doesn’t matter how the banned substance — in this case, ostarine — entered Garcia’s system. It’s still a violation of the rules.

Ostarine was found in Garcia’s A-sample following a urine test on April 19 (the day before the fight) and April 20. The B-sample later returned positive as well.

Greene acknowledged a “negligent component” to Garcia’s actions but argued it was an “innocent mindset.” In other words, Garcia’s team didn’t contest the fact that a doping violation had taken place.

“We understand Ryan’s going to get some sanction,” said Greene, the founding partner of Global Sports Advocates, who represented UFC stars Jon Jones and Sean O’Malley in doping cases. However, Greene also expected the punishment to be “on the very lowest end of how they determine these cases.”

Garcia submitted doping control forms alongside those urine tests where he was required to list all supplements he was taking. Two of them — raspberry-lemonade flavored NutraBio SuperCarb and BodyHealth’s strawberry-flavored amino-acid blend — later revealed the presence of ostarine.

However, the supplements Garcia’s team submitted to the lab were unsealed. NutraBio rejected Garcia’s claim of contamination on June 14.

“NutraBio has never manufactured a supplement with ostarine and has never brought ostarine into our manufacturing facility for use in any product, ever,” the statement read. ” … Making defamatory statements about our product and brand that rely on test results done on an unsealed, expired container handled by the accused individual has no credibility.

“Further, the minuscule amount of ostarine allegedly detected in the open container of SuperCarb does not explain the amount of ostarine identified in Ryan Garcia’s urine, which at 6 ng/ml is 60 times the testing limit.”

Victor Conte, who works with Haney as a sports nutritionist and performance adviser, told ESPN the supplement, “test results simply cannot be authenticated because there is no chain of custody.”

“Why are they testing powders from unsealed supplement containers?” said Conte, the founder of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, who served time in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute performance-enhancing drugs.

“In my opinion, it seems likely that tampering may be involved. Testing of product samples from sealed containers of the same manufacturing numbers is the place to start if the results are to be considered credible.”


Can Garcia fight outside New York while suspended?

The Association of Boxing Commissions (practically every major athletic commission in the U.S.) will honor any suspension from a commission in that group.

“I know I will find a way to fight,” Garcia told ESPN last month. “If I got to go to a different country to fight, I will. … I just want to be in the ring. I’m in my prime. I feel good. I feel strong.”

That’s precisely what Garcia will need to do, though most notable international commissions will likely recognize the ban. Surely, he can find a country where he can fight, given his star power and the business he generates.

However, the NYSAC could always institute further punishment in that case.


How does ostarine enhance performance?

Ostarine is a selective androgen receptor modulator that attaches to proteins in the body and effectively tells muscles to grow. It aids performance by helping athletes build muscle mass, enhance their fat loss rate, increase stamina and recovery ability.

Ostarine has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list since 2008, and in 2022 was listed as an anabolic agent by WADA.

“During a fight camp, athletes will predominantly cut a lot of pounds so they can make the agreed weight category ahead of their fight,” Conte told ESPN. “Ostarine can also be used during the weight-cutting phase. During the weight-cutting period, people often resort to strict diets — mainly missing out on conventional calorie intakes.

“Ostarine has the capability of maintaining both muscle strength and mass during caloric deficits. It has proven to be the ideal product for body enhancement cycles where you are aiming to build muscle mass while cutting down on excess fat.”

Ostarine is prohibited by the commission at levels greater than 0.1 ng/ml. Conte posted on X last month that Garcia’s ostarine level was 6 n/ml, which is 60 times the allowable threshold.


Has ostarine been linked to any other notable fighters?

British boxing star Amir Khan was handed a two-year ban by UK Anti-Doping after he tested positive for ostarine following his sixth-round TKO loss to Kell Brook in Manchester in February 2022. Khan hasn’t competed since.

The Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended O’Malley for six months after he tested positive for ostarine in May 2018. He was handed a nine-month suspension the following year when ostarine was again found in his system.

All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins tested positive for ostarine in 2022. Former Pro Bowl offensive tackle Taylor Lewan also tested positive for the same substance in 2019, as well as multiple Clemson players before the College Football Playoff semifinal against Notre Dame in 2018.

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