UFC Champion Holly Holm Endorsing Company That Sells Banned Substances

By McCarton Ackerman 11/18/15

The new UFC champ had the spotlight turned up brighter just days after her stunning knockout of Ronda Rousey.

Holly Holm
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It’s no surprise that new UFC champion Holly Holm is signing endorsement deals after her massive upset over Ronda Rousey, but one of her previously existing deals with a pharmaceutical company is now raising plenty of eyebrows.

Intel Pharma signed Holm for a one-fight deal based around the bout with Rousey, but the Texas-based company sells supplements advertising substances that are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Four of the company’s products are labeled as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARM), which are banned by WADA because they are considered steroid alternatives.

Surprisingly, Holm’s management team said they were aware Intel Pharma sold banned substances before she signed the contract, but insisted that she doesn’t personally use those products. She has been drug tested five times since last July and has passed each time.

“The first question I asked them was how many of these products were banned, and they were upfront about it,’’ said Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s manager. “I’m sure she didn’t use any of them. She might have taken a picture with one." Fresquez said he wasn’t sure if Holm would further extend her business relationship with Intel Pharma.

Landon Suggs, CEO of Intel Pharma, said the company stopped selling the four SARM products last June, well before a deal with Holm was signed. However, he also acknowledged the company still sells stimulants which “could still be on the banned list.”

UFC issued a statement clarifying that their fighters are independent contractors, therefore allowed to accept endorsements and sponsorships that “do not conflict with their contractual obligations at official UFC events…[fighters are] aware that they are liable for any substances put into their body, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and still must adhere to the requirements set forth by the UFC Anti-Doping Policy."

Rousey has not commented on the scandal. She was previously sponsored by Gaspari Nutrition from 2012-14, but a Washington Post report found that some of the company’s products contained steroids. Rousey has passed every drug test she has taken and has been a staunch advocate of testing athletes frequently.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.