The vehement uproar over cannabis use is alive and well in the mixed martial arts bubble. Nickolas Robert Diaz, proud citizen of the 209, incoherent rambler of epic proportions, and the man who demonstrated the effectiveness of the pressuring, voluminous boxing attack in MMA, was given the rawest of deals a few days ago.
Nick Diaz is synonymous with a few terms and phrases in the English language and the phrase “recreational marijuana user” is as apt as calling him an enigma. Diaz was scheduled for an “administrative hearing” (the use of quotation marks is self-explanatory to those who saw said hearing) on Monday September 14th, 2015 to discuss the circumstances surrounding his failed post-fight drug test following UFC 183, what actually happened was an attack and a sad look at what petty egotistical maniacs the Nevada state athletic commissioners really are.
The NSAC and the Deafness of Common Sense
The details are very familiar to most at this point, in case you need to be caught up to speed my colleague and editor Matt Creed wrote a piece for our own Last Word On Sports MMA page which you can read HERE, but the long and short of it is Diaz was handed the longest suspension in Nevada’s history primarily for Diaz’ “disregard for the commission” despite the fact that the drug tests in question were objectively inconclusive.
Out of three tests collected on January 31st prior to and after Nick Diaz’ fight with Anderson Silva, two of the three samples tested clean, with the one positive test coming from Quest Diagnostics, a laboratory that specializes in drug testing for employees of the typical nine-to-five jobs, that also happens to be a non-WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) accredited lab. Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL), was the lab that produced the two negative test results for PEDs and marijuana. SMRTL is a WADA accredited lab and one of the best labs in the United States to provide thorough, comprehensive drug test results in athletics.
None of it mattered to the commission, the writing was on the wall as soon as Diaz stepped foot into the room that he was not going to get off lightly. Commissioner Skip Avencino stated that he wanted to hear Diaz’ explanation and hoped he would testify, it was all too abundantly clear that he nor anyone else on the dais were too pleased that Diaz decided to use his right to remain silent, and hire highly regarded attorneys to make a strong, logical, factual argument for him.
The thick-skinned, mature and not at all spiteful Pat Lundval suggested the maximum fine of Diaz’ purse and a lifetime ban for the former Strikeforce welterweight champion and that raised the collective eyebrows of all in attendance, including her fellow commissioners. So in the end, Diaz was struck with the maximum 33 percent fine and unequivocally maddening five-year ban for failing a post-fight drug test for a non-performance enhancing drug.
The support for Nick Diaz and opposition against the NSAC at this point in time is as strong as I’ve ever seen for any singular cause in mixed martial arts. Solidarity has seemed to grasp the MMA community and it’s great there is at least one silver lining to this debacle, unfortunately it’s not enough for the person writing this.
Thank You USADA for “Cleaning up the Sports World”
I am a fight fan, I’ve been one for most of my life and have been a hardcore MMA fan for over six years now. I have been writing in one way or another for close to a decade, and only recently began writing about MMA six months ago. I love this sport, and began watching it as a fresh and exciting alternative to my usual viewing of boxing. I am still a big boxing fan to this day, but I grew thin of its’ inept matchmaking, lackluster fights and the grey cloud of corruption that constantly seemed to be cast over the sport.
Since the beginning, I always backed MMA and said that it’s nothing like boxing and boxing needed to take a page from the UFC to fix some of its’ flaws. Time has passed and I’m objective enough now to see I was wrong, and how mixed martial arts is now large enough and mainstream enough to face the same obstacles that boxing has had and still has.
This was originally meant as my “Hit ‘Em Up” to the Nevada state athletic commission (NSAC), I’ve now come to realize that my hopes and optimism is more like Christopher Wallace and the NSAC, UFC and USADA are creeping up next to me in a black Chevy Impala at the intersection of Fairfax and Wilshire.
Okay, maybe that last analogy was a bit grim and over-the-top, but I am in a place where the phrase “Ignorance is bliss” has never made so much sense. I’ve delved too deep into the underbelly of the heinous relationship of MMA and PEDs and I am no longer able to climb out of this abyss. I’ve already written about my thoughts about the UFC’s new drug testing policy, which you can read HERE, but some of the events that have transpired in the past thirty days are so baffling, so troubling, that I feel my strong anti-PED stance is about to take a 180 degree turn.
Amidst the controversy surrounding the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after Thomas Hauser’s brilliant article exposing some of their suspect practices, it’s difficult to really get behind any sort of drug testing regimen. It shouldn’t have been a big surprise that USADA was protecting Floyd Mayweather Jr. in some fashion, after all the man hired their services for his bouts and is the wealthiest athlete in the world, but the most troubling part of these allegations were the protection of several other fighters, including ones that were not on their side financially, as stated in the Danny Garcia/Erik Morales case.
The UFC is walking on eggshells right now with any regards concerning drug testing. The idea of the company trying to clean up the sport definitely looks like subterfuge now. Although, they have recently stated that they still support USADA and will continue to utilize their services, it does not look good to have NSAC head Bob Bennett and UFC drug czar Jeff Novitzky butting heads over an athlete using Adderall.
Frank Mir was given a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for the prescription drug Adderall prior to his bout with Andrei Arlovski. His use of the drug was only discontinued after Novitzky advised Mir to do so, as he couldn’t fill out the proper paperwork in time to hand it to the NSAC. The fact that a man who is being paid to look over the fighters’ safety and weed out potential cheats is advising a fighter to halt his use of a powerful stimulant, that may as well be a labeled form of methamphetamine is insane.
USADA’s ability to hand out TUE applications for speed and retroactive TUE’s as was the case with Mayweather, all the while banning the administration of IVs for rehydration for other athletes is beyond any form of comprehension.
I Apologize Pride Fans, Can I Join Your Awesome Crew?
I’m here to align my loyalty to a subgroup of the MMA community that I have had my share of laughs at, the #PrideNeverDie people. I apologize, I still feel how I always have, but I now understand this feeling you have for the old school guard. Sure Pride FC may have allegedly been run by the Yakuza, encouraged steroid use, fixed a few matches, and gypped the UFC out of millions of dollars when they purchased the company but at least there was a level playing field over there. The athletes that chose not to use PEDs did so because of their own moral compass and beliefs.
I believe in a clean sport, I want it and think it could be done, but the way business is being handled by Zuffa, and the corruption and ineptitude that the NSAC and USADA have displayed makes me very cynical. I hope the day comes, I believe it will, but for now I’ll stick with the individuals lamenting that Fedor Emelianenko was not signed to the UFC. I don’t really care but I’ll put up the facade cause I don’t want to be an outcast.