UFC heavyweight Josh Barnett sues ‘negligent’ supplement manufacturer

UFC heavyweight fighter Josh Barnett (35-8-0) filed a legal complaint Monday April 9 at the Superior Court of the State of California against supplement manufacturer Genkor for negligence, breach of implied warranty and strict products liability.

The complaint alleges Barnett was a “victim of a contaminated dietary supplement manufactured and/or packaged by defendants under the brand name ‘Genkor,’ marketed and distributed by defendants through their ‘Nutrition 101’ retail outlets.”

Barnett is seeking compensatory and general damages, court and attorney costs as well as any “further relief as the Court deems just and proper.”

The supplement that Barnett used, Tributestin 750, which is manufactured by Genkor, was supposed to contain tribulus terrestris, “a natural and legal plant which athletes are permitted to use as a dietary supplement,” but was found by a USADA investigation into Barnett’s failed Dec. 9, 2016 drug test to be contaminated with the selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) drug Ostarine. The World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) currently lists Ostarine on its prohibited list.

Barnett was removed from a September 2017 fight that would have paid him $275,000 USD.

An independent arbitrator involved in the investigation, Richard H. McLaren, determined that Barnett was the victim of a tainted supplement

Despite Barnett being initially pressured to accept four year and 18-month suspensions by combining a previous 2009 positive test, USADA eventually issued a public reprimand, with no fine or suspension when the 2009 test was determined to be inadmissible.

Barnett was previously warned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) in 2001 for a failed post-fight UFC 34 drug test and stripped of the UFC heavyweight belt in 2002 after failing a post UFC 36 drug test.

Barnett’s victory could have major implications for other fighters adjudicating similar cases, according to his lawyer Peter Fredman.

“There’s been quite a bit of media interest,” Fredman explained to The Crossfire over the phone from Los Angeles. “I don’t know if it’s because of Josh Barnett’s celebrity or the details of the case. Overall, it seems positive. I also represented Josh’s arbitration and it was rather conclusive. It just happened in this case that Josh took careful track of everything he took so he kept the sample in the container … It’s sort of the a unique circumstance.”

While Barnett is the rare fighter to successfully win a tainted supplement case against USADA and walk out with no financial or suspension penalty, it’s important to note that this situation is fairly common in other fields.

“This happens all the time in the world of personal injury law, false advertising cases,” Fredman elaborated. “I have another case where milk is supposed to be organic and it contains sort of a supplement that’s not organic. That’s a totally different case, but it’s not an uncommon legal scenario.

“I think what’s uncommon is the factual scenario, in the fact we can document that he lost real money, reputation from this incident.”

Fredman noted in his estimation, Barnett’s case could take as many as one or two years to play out, depending on how the defendants respond.

Barnett is currently in Japan, having attended the QUINTET submission grappling event in Tokyo.

Barnett’s last fight was a submission win over Andrei Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 93 in September 2016.



Kenai is a former Postmedia Network news and sports editor. He is the Editor-in-Chief for MMA Crossfire.