Drugs in sports are nothing new or groundbreaking. However, what seems to be a growing concern is marijuana being seen as a performance enhancing drug. Nobody is more aware of this than Nick Diaz of UFC and Strikeforce fame.
Well maybe Ross Rebagliati, might have an idea when he had his gold medal for snowboarding stripped in 1998 when he tested positive for THC. The medal was eventually returned to him after it was discovered marijuana was not on the banned substances list but has since been put on the list.
UFC 183 marked the third time Nick Diaz had tested positive for marijuana. This time, however, there was so much controversy surrounding the issue that even a petition was filed to the White House to reduce his insanely long five-year suspension.
Why shouldn’t he be suspended?
The simple answer is that cannabis isn’t a performance enhancing drug, which should be all that is needed to drop the suspension. However, that being put aside for a moment, Diaz had passed two World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited drug tests but failed one carried out by and independent laboratory called Quest Diagnostics. So failing a drug test three times looks bad, right?
Diaz presented a sound defense to the Nevada Athletic Commission by comparing his five-year suspension to his opponent Anderson Silva, who defeated Diaz via unanimous decision, tested positive for steroids which are clearly performance enhancing but only received a one-year ban.
Some may argue it’s the number of offences that was the cause for the lengthy suspension, but that only brings us back to the idea of what it means to be “performance enhancing” because if marijuana is not performance enhancing, it wouldn’t matter how many times Diaz has tested positive.
The MMA community rallied behind Diaz’s legal team and their campaign against the punishment. The Nevada Athletic Commission were forced to reduce his sentence 18 months and deducted $65,000 from his fine. Also, Silva’s win over Diaz was also overturned to a No Contest.
Diaz however, remains consistent in his stance that he will not give up marijuana and becomes yet another large name pushing for its legalization. He asserts cannabis keeps his focused on his training, and even when he wakes up in the morning and feels beat up from all the training, smoking some cannabis in the morning wakes him right up.
We often talk about marijuana as a pain reliever and it would make perfect sense for men and women who get beaten during training and beaten during fights, that their body is going to be sore and worn down. Using something medicinal like marijuana without all the other chemicals found in other medicines makes perfect sense. With his sentence now reduced to 18 months, Diaz could return to the Octagon as early as July 2016. The 32-year-old teased at doing something big for his comeback.