Josh Barnett licensed in California
LOS ANGELES -- The California State Athletic Commission granted heavyweight mixed martial artist Josh Barnett a license to fight in the state for the first time on Monday after refusing him a similar privilege in the summer of 2009.
Barnett, a former UFC heavyweight champion, was originally denied after testing positive for anabolic agents leading up to a scheduled bout against Fedor Emelianenko in Anaheim, Calif.
Speaking in front of the commission at Monday's special hearing, Barnett denied ever taking anabolic steroids. He claimed a positive test in Nevada in 2002 came as a result of tainted supplements.
"At the time drug testing was relatively new and the state of the supplement industry was a bit like the wild West," Barnett said. "The supplements I took in 2002 were reclassified as anabolics in 2004, but at the time they were legal."
He also said he did not use steroids prior to the Emelianenko fight, when the CSAC-issued urinalysis revealed Drostanolone metabolites in his system.
Barnett claimed "utter shock" upon learning of the positive test in 2009.
"I didn't knowingly or intentionally ingest steroids," he said to the commission. "I did not take steroids."
The 4-2 vote in favor of licensure, subsequent to the commission's ability to conduct urine tests of the former UFC champion at a time and place of its choosing, provides Strikeforce the option to promote a May 19 fight between Barnett and Daniel Cormier in California, said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, who attended the hearing.
In qualifying for a license, Barnett needed to test clean for banned substances, which he did last week, as well as display instances of rehabilitation.
Barnett said he spent time working with youth groups, like the Brea Wrestling Club, and threw fundraisers, such as last year's benefit for Japanese earthquake and tsunami survivors.
"I hope to change your opinions and satisfy any of your doubts," Barnett said.
Josh Gross covers mixed martial arts for ESPN.com.
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