On Tuesday, the Nevada Athletic Commission reduced Nick Diaz’s suspension from five years to 18 months and a $100,000 fine retroactive to Jan. 31, 2015. Diaz will be able to fight as early as Aug. 1.
When the news came out, fans and media were happy to see Diaz’s suspension time get knocked down when the NAC in September inexplicably suspended him five years and fined him $165,000.
We shouldn’t be happy with the result, though. The NAC should have done the right thing, wiped Diaz’s suspension clean and make him eligible to fight again immediately.
In the 2015 hearing, the commission, especially Pat Lundvall, decided they wanted to be the stars of the hearing instead of doing their job. Diaz passed two drugs tests administered by the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) and failed a test for marijuana administered by Quest Diagnostics, which isn’t WADA accredited. Marijuana is in fact on WADA’s prohibited substance list, but the NAC didn’t follow WADA’s testing code, looked past that important fact and followed Quest’s finding, as they deemed them reliable despite the organization not being accredited.
Diaz’s attorney, Lucas Middlebrook, was aggressive in his defense and had the commission on the ropes and instantly poked holes in their case and continued to do so throughout the hearing. The commission was dismissive of Middlebrook’s claims, instead focusing of the belief that Diaz failed a test for the third time since 2007 and invoking his fifth amendment right 24 times when asked questions by Lundvall.
But the commission decided to give Diaz a life sentence because they felt threatened by Middlebrook’s competency, something they were not faced with during his UFC 183 opponent Anderson Silva’s hearing a month prior.
Silva tested positive for a cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs before and after the Diaz fight. He tested positive for Drostanolone, an anabolic steroid, Oxazepam, a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety and acute alcohol withdrawal, and Temazepam, a sedative-hypnotic used to treat insomnia. In one of the worst defenses ever heard, Silva said a friend from Thailand who he couldn’t even name supplied him a substance in an unmarked Cialis- or Viagra-like bottle so he could perform better sexually.
For his “great” testimony and positive tests for three drugs, Silva was rewarded with a one-year suspension and a $380,000 fine. Yes, you read that correctly. That would make one think smoking marijuana is more lethal than taking steroids. According to the WADA code, smoking marijuana may reduce memory, attention and motivation, weaken the immune system and impact the lungs.
Nowhere does it say that marijuana improves your performance. Silva could have killed Diaz with the drugs he had in his system, where the Stockton native only hurt himself in the fight.
Then we get to Tuesday’s hearing. The NAC wanted to get the Diaz portion of the hearing done quicker than a Usian Bolt race. They voted unanimously on the settlement between them and Diaz and the matter was done. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed at that moment and, without even mentioning Diaz’s name, off to the next topic the commission went.
For all the bumbling they did and the embarrassment they caused themselves, the NAC still couldn’t admit to any wrongdoing.
You can also look at the case involving Wanderlei Silva. During a Sept. 2014 hearing, the NAC slapped Silva with an unheard of lifetime ban in the state of Nevada, plus a $70,000 fine for fleeing a random drug test in May 2014 before his scheduled UFC 175 fight against Chael Sonnen. Silva, however, appealed the ruling and won a significant victory in May, when a Nevada district court judge ruled that the NAC’s punishment was “in excess of the statutory authority of the agency.” Then for the fourth time in four months, the NAC rescheduled their hearing with the MMA legend. Silva’s attorney, Ross Goodman, had enough and laid into the supposed best athletic commission in the country.
You put your ego ahead of your job and wanted to punish the former Strikeforce welterweight champion. They had to have Diaz admit he improperly invoked his fifth amendment rights and did not disclose his use of marijuana on a pre-fight medical questionnaire, even though the failed test came from a non-accredited WADA lab.
Diaz should be able to fight right now, end of story. He shouldn’t be punished for passing drug tests by accredited WADA laboratories.
Instead we get a commission who abused their power, took advantage of it and only after a public outcry and a petition that reached the White House in the form of over 100,000 signatures did the NAC decide to rethink the punishment. It is a shame that Diaz’s legal team of Campbell and Williams didn’t press the issue more and advise Diaz to continue on with the case as it seemed pretty certain the former UFC title challenger would have won the case.
After all the complaining, the crying and the petitions from the public, Diaz still received a punishment.
Maybe Diaz should have gave the Silva line of reasoning and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
It just shows not all higher authorities don’t do the right thing when they should. And that is a shame because of a commission that lacks common sense causes a person to not being able make a living doing what he does best. It is unfair and unjust and maybe one day the NAC will get something right. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.
Follow Steven Muehlhausen on Twitter: @SMuehlhausenMMA