It looks like the Diaz brothers and 10th Planet schools around the world will be overjoyed at the latest UFC news, as USADA has announced that they are removing Marijuana from the list of banned substances. Nick Diaz was famously banned from competing for an absurd period of five years and fined $165,000 after testing positive for Marijuana metabolites back in 2015. Interestingly, he fought against Anderson Silva who also failed a drug test for actual PEDs and was only banned for one year, while a $380,000 fine was paid due to him having a higher purse for the fight.
The ridiculous ban was slammed by all corners of MMA journalism and even caught the attention of mainstream media, as it was plain for all to see how outdated the banning of Marijuana for UFC competitors actually was. Even though his ban was later reduced and has since been fully served, the experience left an incredibly sour taste in Diaz’s mouth and he still hasn’t competed since the Anderson Silva fight, although things are looking up as the elder Diaz brother’s manager revealed that he’s almost certainly competing again this year.
MMA Fighting spoke to UFC Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novitzky, who made the following statement:
“When I get those calls weeks out from a fight, fighters that use marijuana say ‘Jeff, when should I stop to make sure I’m under the level?’ What some of those stories include are ‘I choose to use marijuana in lieu of opioids for pain management, in lieu of Xanax to control my anxiety, in lieu of Ambien so I can sleep because I’m so damn nervous before a fight.’ It bothered me a lot that the rules in anti-doping really directs these fighters towards more dangerous drugs, the closer they get to fights.”
Now, fighters will not be penalized for testing positive for Marijuana in any drug test conducted either before, after, or even during a fight. The only caveat is that they expect there to be no signs of visible impairment on the night of the fight, essentially just asking fighters not to compete while high.