B.J. Penn gives explanation for IV use, claims it was doctor administered antioxidant to address vertigo

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

B.J. Penn (photo credit Stephen R. Sylvanie © USAToday Sports)

B.J. Penn has given an explanation for why he was using an IV prior to a random drug test from USADA, which pulled him from next week’s UFC 199 card in California.

In an interview via his personal site, Penn said it came about after he met with doctors regarding an issue with vertigo and motion sickness.

“After my fight got canceled, a couple of fighters invited me to come down to Dallas with them to meet with these same doctors. I thought ‘why not’ as I have had prior concussions, I deal with vertigo and well you have seen how many times I have been hit during my career. I figured if there was any chance that this could help my vertigo, motion sickness or maybe even improve my vision, as I have a lens from a previous cataract, then this was a good thing,” Penn explained. “We were doing some of the different exercises for vision, motion sickness and vertigo and then following my physical, one of the doctors suggested that I take a glutathione IV.

“They said that after doing a physical on me and taking a look at my symptoms, a glutathione IV would be great for me,” he continued. “They told me that having the glutathione administered through an IV would be the best way for my body to absorb the antioxidant.

“So the first thing I told them was that I am signed up with USADA year-round, so we have to take a look at their ‘banned substances list’ and make sure there is nothing in there. We went through the banned substance list and of course glutathione was not on the list. Once we discovered that nothing in the IV was on the banned substance list, I let the doctor administer the IV. I was so focused on USADA’s banned substance list that I never gave any thought to the IV except for the fact that sometimes people had used them after weigh-ins before a fight.”

Penn doubled down on criticism of those who use IVs for weight cutting, ripping fighters who compete well below where they should in order to have a size advantage.

“Of course they are for wimps when the IV is being used to rehydrate a fighter who has nearly killed himself cutting weight so that he can fight a smaller man,” Penn said. “If you are using an IV for that purpose, then of course you are a wimp and I’ll tell anyone that to their face. On the other hand, if someone gets in a bad car accident and needs an IV for a blood transfusion, am I going to call them a wimp? Of course not! That absolutely outrageous, you know seriously who am I addressing here. This is a first-grade conversation. I’m sorry if I offended any haters or fans of fighters who have to take IVs so that they can fight smaller men and not get cut from the UFC but it is what it is.”

Penick’s Analysis: If this all pans out it’s possible he’ll not face much in the way of discipline, but it’s hard to know what USADA’s going to do in a unique situation like this. He hasn’t taken anything on the banned list, and if there was a legitimate medical explanation for the IV use – he claims there is but USADA will judge his story – then maybe they’ll go light on him. If not, then we’re not going to see him back in the cage.

[Photo (c) Stephen R. Sylvanie via USA Today Sports]

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