Jesse Ronson opens up about USADA suspension

Jesse Ronson
Jesse Ronson weighs in for his UFC Fight Island 3 bout with Nicolas Dalby. (Credit: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

UFC fighter Jesse Ronson was suspended for a failed drug test USADA announced on Nov. 18, 2020. Ronson tested positive for metandienone on July 22, four days before his win against Nicolas Dalby. The win was overturned to a no contest following the failed drug test.

Ronson’s 20-month suspension officially started on July 22. USADA granted the Canadian welterweight a four-month reduction for his “full and complete cooperation” with the organization.

Canada’s Ronson, 34, broke the news in a Facebook post on Nov. 17, 2021, and gave his thoughts on the suspension. In an exclusive interview with MMA Empire, he further explained his reaction, his opinions on what may have caused the failed drug test, and USADA’s investigation.

How exactly did you learn about the suspension?

“It was really weird. It was August 18 and my manager called me around 5 p.m. He said I tested positive for metandienone, and I was like, ‘what the f**k is that?!’

He had no idea, I had no idea. He said, ‘yeah, you’re gonna be suspended for two years and they’re emailing me forms. Fill them out and we’re going to have to do an investigation.’

My manager was shocked because he had no idea what metandienone was. I had never heard of it until I looked it up. He said it had to be from a tainted supplement. Apparently, it’s injectable and, more often than not, comes in a pill.

I did some research and found out nobody makes this stuff anymore—you literally have to go to a lab that makes steroids and ask the guy to make you pills. Other than that, you’re not getting it anywhere. The further I looked into it, I found out a lot of supplements have been tainted with metandienone.

It’s insane the amount of s**t that’s been laced with this stuff. I read about a CFL athlete who recently also tested positive for metandienone. He got suspended from the CFL and said his supplements were tainted with it too. I guess this stuff is everywhere.”

After doing your research, do you have any idea where this metandienone came from?

“I firmly believe it was a tainted supplement. The testosterone boost I was taking at the time—which was completely legal; I passed many drug tests before—had to have been it. When I got my test results back, I didn’t have any of the supplement left to send to USADA.

My manager told me to buy another supplement and send it off to them, so I went to go get some more, but it came back clean. So, I think I got a dirty batch of this stuff. Ever since then, I’ve had four tests come back all clean.

USADA did an in-depth investigation and called a few people. They said they believed it was from a tainted supplement and wouldn’t put it past a company to make dirty batches every once in a while, because some companies have done that in the past.”

Can you explain how USADA’s investigation worked, and how you cooperated with them?

“They informed me of my failed test on August 18, and I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork. A week later, they tested me, and then two weeks later they tested me again, and again two weeks later, and then again three weeks later. I think they were trying to test for any residual stuff in my system.

In a Zoom meeting, they asked me a bunch of questions and asked for everything I took in the last two years. I explained the testosterone booster I took, and they asked if I looked at their website or anything else. My nutritionist looked at that testosterone booster and said everything looked good, so they asked me who my nutritionist was. I gave them his number, my coach’s number, and other contacts. Then, USADA called all those people and asked them questions to see if they were covering for me, which they weren’t.

They also asked a bit about my background, just to see if I was genuine or not. Ultimately, for my cooperation and my no-fault admission, I got a four-month reduction in my suspension; it went from two years to 20 months.”

There’s this narrative among MMA fans that suggests most fighters take PEDs. What do you think of that narrative?

“The thing is, if you have the money, for sure you can take anything you want and get away with it. The chemists out there and the stuff they do—masking agents, diuretic steroids, whatever—these chemists know things that can fool panels and tests. It just costs them $60,000 to do it.

USADA is f**king thorough. They can take your blood and urine 24/7/365; so, if you’re doing something, they’ll catch you. That’s why you’ve seen so much change over the years.  As soon as USADA came around, all these legends and amazing fighters just fell off. So, I don’t think anybody is taking anything anymore—or if they are, it’s something that just came out and isn’t on the banned substance list.”

Has this suspension made you re-think anything about your training regimen or staff?

“Hell no. My team believes me. If they believed I’d do this on purpose, they’d kick me out of the gym. The staff is like a family. We’ve all known each other for years; we don’t hire outside help that would want to sabotage anything like that.”

Do you feel any anger, resentment or animosity toward anyone or anything because of this failed test and subsequent suspension?

“No. USADA is doing their job—that’s what they’re there for. I didn’t take metandienone. I’m not a cheater—I’ve never cheated. I feel like I’m being cheated by a company.

I don’t hold any resentment toward USADA or anyone at the UFC. They’re just doing their job and keeping everybody else safe.”

*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Related: Jesse Ronson set for long overdue second UFC stint on Fight Island