by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
Ultimate Fighting Championship star Diego Sanchez tested positive for marijuana after his December 13th victory over Joe Riggs and was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission.
The UFC welterweight contender and Ultimate Fighter Season One winner knocked out Riggs in the main event of UFC Fight Night 7, which took place in San Diego, California at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and aired live on Spike TV.
At some point following Sanchez’ failure of the drug test, he was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for three months from the date of the fight, which means that his suspension has already expired. The CSAC also fined Sanchez $500 (his purse for the fight was $32,000).
The news of Sanchez’ positive test was first reported on Thursday by Carlos Arias of the Orange County Register. In the three months following the Sanchez-Riggs fight and prior to Arias’ report, the California State Athletic Commission did not announce or disclose Sanchez’ drug test failure.
In addition, the UFC did not acknowledge Sanchez’ drug test failure on its web site, despite the fact that the company has posted brief stories on its web site acknowledging all other drug test failures for UFC fighters since the beginning of 2006, including Thiago Alves’ positive test for a banned diuretic just a few weeks after Sanchez’ positive test for marijuana.
When asked why the California State Athletic Commission did not previously disclose or announce Sanchez’ positive drug test, CSAC Executive Officer Armando Garcia said to MMAWeekly, “No one made any requests for public records on it.” Garcia also said that the CSAC would make information about any positive drug tests in the future readily available to media outlets.
When asked why the UFC did not acknowledge Sanchez’ drug test failure on its web site, as it has for all other UFC drug test failures over the past year, the UFC did not respond.
Sanchez’ next scheduled fight is against Josh Koscheck at UFC 69 in Houston, Texas on April 7th. His positive drug test will not affect his availability to fight on the UFC 69 card, due to the fact that his suspension has already expired. Sanchez has a 17-0 professional record in MMA and is currently the world’s #4 Welterweight in the MMAWeekly Rankings.
It is fairly uncommon for fighters in the UFC to fight more often than once every three months under normal circumstances, so a three-month suspension may or may not change any given UFC fighter’s schedule in any tangible way.
The CSAC’s Garcia said to MMAWeekly that a three-month suspension and $500 fine is the most common punishment for MMA fighters who test positive for marijuana in the state of California. In Nevada, the typical punishment for a positive marijuana test is a six-month suspension. Since the beginning of this year alone, there have been two MMA fighters who have tested positive for marijuana in Nevada: Pride’s Nick Diaz and the WEC’s Joe Pearson, neither of whom have had their NSAC disciplinary hearings as of yet.
Garcia also said that the California State Athletic Commission is planning to implement new drug testing procedures in the near future, which will include drug testing more fighters than any other state. Under the CSAC’s new procedures, all fighters will be tested for recreational drugs, and approximately 25 fighters per month will be tested for steroids.