by Scott Petersen & Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The controversy surrounding Nick Diaz’s sudden exit from Saturday’s Elite XC and Strikeforce co-promoted fight card continues to swirl even after the event has ended. MMAWeekly spoke to California State Athletic Commission executive officer Armando Garcia about the decision to remove Diaz from the card and the consequent fallout.
According to Garcia, it was all a matter of timing with Diaz and his medical testing prior to the fight, and the commission was not given enough time to respond and investigate.
“For this particular case, I did not have sufficient time from the 25th or 26th until the fight on the 29th or the weigh-in on the 28th to be able to properly evaluate all of the necessary licensing documents and give him a license,” said Garcia.
“I know that is very frustrating for Mr. Diaz and many of his friends that wanted to see him fight. But as a state agency we have a mandate to protect health and safety and we have licensing requirements. It behooves the applicant to turn those things in a timely manner and in a complete manner.”
He went on to explain that the exit of Diaz was not an attempt to block him from fighting in the state of California or to deny him a license, simply said they did not have ample time to review all necessary documentation.
“Nick Diaz is not suspended. Nick Diaz’s license is not denied. Nick Diaz will be licensed very, very soon,” Garcia stated. “I want to see him licensed. I am going to be talking to him and hopefully I can guide him to be able to resolve this.
“With that said, in this particular case, the commission did not receive the necessary licensing documents, particularly medical documents, for us to be able to clear him on time. We did not, No. 1, receive them in a timely manner, and No. 2, in a case we did not actually receive them.”
In a recent interview with MMAWeekly Radio, Diaz’s trainer, Cesar Gracie said, “We offered for (Diaz) to take a urine test to show that he was going to be negative. He was not smoking, so he would be negative for this fight … they never gave him that opportunity.”
“We do not have the authority to ask applicants to do that,” Garcia said regarding testing prior to a fight. “Now let’s just say that in a hypothetical case, the person would be licensed, perhaps we could test that person. However, if you admit that you have ingested something in a certain time frame that particular individual, common sense and medical science would dictate, that that person is going to be positive.
“So in that hypothetical situation, it wouldn’t be prudent for the commission to allow the person to fight and then later test them. Because if that person is allowed to fight, becomes injured in some way or injures their opponent, and now that it comes back that it’s positive and you have all of this other side information, that would not be a prudent decision to make.”
In this particular situation, as Garcia stated, if a competitor has already admitted to using an illegal substance during the testing process and they are allowed to fight, it could come back legally against the commission for allowing the person to compete.
Another factor that many people have been speaking about since the situation broke is the confusion over the medicinal marijuana rules in the state of California.
“The Compassionate Use Act of 1996 decriminalized and outlined the law in a certain way that caregivers could provide medicinal marijuana to their patients and that would eliminate their prosecution if they provided or cultivated marijuana for a patient and it was prescribed by a doctor,” commented Garcia.
“However, the Compassionate Use Act does not shield a licensee from using marijuana when the commission’s regulations state that you can not use any drug. So the fact that you have a medicinal marijuana recommendation does not shield you from testing positive or violating a commission rule.”
The following is taken from a statement provided by the CSAC that references medical marijuana as it relates to licensees of the State Athletic Commission:
“Accordingly, the Act grants patients who use marijuana for medical purposes a limited immunity from criminal prosecution. It does not shield patients, who are also licensees of the State Athletic Commission, from the prohibition articulated in California Code of Regulations section 303, which states:
‘The administration or use of any drugs, alcohol or stimulants, or injections in any part of the body, either before or during a match, to or by any boxer is prohibited.’
The Act was enacted by the people of California to address the medical needs of certain people within its population, and to decriminalize behaviors associated with the use of marijuana. However, since any action taken against a licensee by the Commission is not a criminal prosecution according to State law, the Commission will continue to enforce the prohibition against the administration or use of drugs by a licensee, which is consistent with the Commission’s mission to protect and serve California consumers.”
In the interview with MMAWeekly Radio, Gracie indicated that they would be pursuing legal action on Diaz’s behalf following the weekend’s events.