by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
Breaking News on MMAWeekly: Nick Diaz has failed the drug test that he took shortly before his win over Takanori Gomi at Pride 33: The Second Coming. Diaz tested positive for marijuana, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Diaz will have an opportunity to defend himself at a Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing in the future.
The typical punishment for MMA fighters or boxers who test positive for marijuana in the state of Nevada has been a six-month suspension, with the most recent example being professional boxer Mikhail Lyubarsky, who was suspended for six months at his NSAC disciplinary hearing just this morning.
Diaz defeated Takanori Gomi by submission at Pride 33: The Second Coming in a huge upset.
In addition to being under contract to Pride, Diaz was also under contract with the Showtime-backed EliteXC to fight on a future EliteXC card. It is not yet known how or if Diaz’ positive test will affect his status with Pride or EliteXC.
Diaz Was Hesitant to Take Drug Test
MMAWeekly spoke with NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer about Diaz’s failed drug test, and Kizer noted that Diaz was initially hesitant when he was asked to give a urine sample.
Kizer said, “It was interesting because when the inspectors went to take the urine sample before his fight, Mr. Diaz said no at first. He wanted to give the sample in a stall. The sample has to be given in front of an inspector, and he wouldn’t do it. Well, we’ve played that game with Mr. Randleman, so we weren’t going to have that, but he refused to do it. So I said, ‘That’s fine, no problem, but you’re not going to be fighting, of course. If you’re not going to take the drug test, that’s fine, but you’re not fighting tonight.’”
Kizer continued, “So I talked to Turi [Altavilla] at Pride and then he apparently talked to Nick, and then he was more than happy to give us a sample. The fight would have been called off otherwise. I don’t know if his hesitance to take a drug test has anything to do with his positive drug test and whether there’s any correlation there, but it’s definitely a factor that I will be bringing up with the commissioners. Mr. Diaz was the only fighter [on the Pride 33 card] who showed any hesitance in taking a drug test.”
Fight Result May or May Not Be Changed to “No Contest”
The official policy of the NSAC used to be that the result of a fight would stay the same, no matter what banned substances were found in the winning fighter’s system, but that policy has changed in recent years.
Now, if a fighter wins a bout and tests positive for steroids, stimulants, or other performance-enhancing drugs, the official result is changed to a no-contest.
Whether or not that will apply to marijuana as well remains to be seen. When asked specifically about the official result of the Diaz-Gomi fight, Kizer told MMAWeekly that the issue will have to be decided by the commissioners. He added that all of the factors will be considered before it’s decided whether the official result of the fight should be changed to “no contest” or whether it should stay the same (Diaz wins by submission).
Regarding the subject of marijuana use among mixed martial artists in general, Kizer said to MMAWeekly last month, “The main issue with marijuana is it slows the reflexes, putting the fighter at much greater risk. We would not let a fighter compete who is coming off arm surgery and has not fully recovered his reflexes, or who is under the influence of alcohol because of the same issue. Additionally, it may also deaden some pain. That could hurt the fighter… he may not tap out when he should and he suffers broken bones or torn ligaments as a result… or that could unfairly help him if he can trade punches more easily with his opponent.”
Potential Disciplinary Suspension a Moot Point?
Due to the fact that Diaz suffered a broken orbital bone during the fight against Gomi and had already been medically suspended by the NSAC for six months, any potential disciplinary suspension for marijuana could end up being a moot point, depending on the length of the disciplinary suspension.
If Diaz were to be given a six-month disciplinary suspension that coincided with his six-month medical suspension, the disciplinary suspension would essentially be a moot point because he wasn’t going to be fighting for six months anyway. The fighter in that case has actually lost zero days when they “could have fought” but weren’t allowed to fight because they were being punished.
In other states such as New Jersey, if a fighter is medically suspended and also fails a drug test, the fighter’s disciplinary suspension begins on the day that his or her medical suspension ends.
This is not currently the case in Nevada. When asked if the NSAC plans to change its policy on this matter in the future, Kizer said that it’s up to the commissioners, but he added, “Any drug violation occurs before any injury, so I am not sure if you should punish a fighter more because of his injuries.”
Nine Other Pride Fighters Pass Drug Tests
All of the other fighters who were drug tested at Pride 33: The Second Coming tested negative for all banned substances, including steroids, stimulants, and recreational drugs.
The ten fighters that the Nevada State Athletic Commission chose to test following their respective fights at Pride 33 on February 24th were Nick Diaz, Takanori Gomi, Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Alistair Overeem, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Joachim Hansen, and Jason Ireland. The remaining eight fighters on the card were not drug tested.
At Pride’s first event in the United States last October, three of the ten fighters who were drug tested failed their tests (Vitor Belfort, Kevin Randleman, and Pawel Nastula).
According to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the total cost of drug testing one fighter for performance-enhancing drugs, stimulants, recreational drugs, and all other banned substances is $278.40.
The NSAC spent a total of $2,784 on drug testing for Pride 33: The Second Coming, while the total cost of drug testing every single fighter on the card would have been $4,454. The event drew $2,033,098 in ticket sales.