After months of delays, Nick Diaz appeared before the NSAC Monday for his hearing over a failed post-fight drug test at UFC 183 following a main event fight with Anderson Silva — in which both men would end up testing positive for banned substances — and was handcuffed with a five year suspension.
The collective response across the MMA community was an overwhelming “Huh?”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not, nor do I believe others are dismissing the fact that there are rules in MMA, nor the importance of drug-testing fighters. Diaz has twice faced penalties in the past for testing positive for cannabis metabolites, yet despite this has candidly continued to use the drug with apparent disregard for any potential fine or suspension.
This is where the problem lies.
This hearing was not a fair legal proceeding regarding the determination of whether there were illegitimate tests conducted; this was a witch-hunt headed by NSAC goons looking to make an example out of Diaz’s misinterpreted disregard of their rules.
Diaz has gained a reputation in MMA for being an outspoken fighter and personality that often goes against the grain. Ironically, Nick like his brother Nate, is a strict vegan (to the point that he refuses to take any kind of pills) and has been outspoken against steroid use from day one. I soon realized, as I sat watching the circus unfold before me, that it was his reputation/public persona that the NSAC was looking to punish — not a fighter who failed a drug test.
Those who endured the entire duration of the hearing, bore witness to a condescending commission, so engrossed by their own power, that they quite literally disregarded crucial scientific facts that would seem to, if nothing else, raise serious concerns about the handling of the testing; instead preferring to rely on Diaz’s checkered past of run-ins with the NSAC over his open use of marijuana.
Dismissed were two of three samples, both of which came back within the set limits of allowed THC metabolites and both which were conducted by an accredited World Anti-Doping Agency Lab. The third test, which Diaz failed, and the one the commission strategically chose to use in the hearing, was not conducted by an accredited WADA laboratory.
Let us also contrast this with the Anderson Silva hearing. Silva, who tested positive for a plethora of banned substances, which included anabolic steroids, both prior to and following their bout, appeared to repeatedly lie about whether he knowingly took any banned substances and yet only received a one year suspension retroactive to Jan. 31. Silva is only one example of many, who have been caught using far more serious substances since the UFC has ramped up drug testing for fighters, yet received much reduced punishment.
It was a sentiment echoed by Diaz in his response to the hearing’s punishment in which he called out all MMA fighters for using steroids.
It’s hard to imagine this is what the UFC had in mind when they unveiled their plans to clean up the sport, and the entire confusing debacle has raised some serious questions that warrant a legitimate response. What kind of message is the NSAC trying to send in an age where MMA is making a serious attempt to clean up what is a much more pressing issue in the ubiquitous steroid use present in mixed martial arts? And who the hell do they think they are?