Is marijuana a performance-enhancing drug for UFC fighters?

Is marijuana a performance-enhancing drug for UFC fighters?

The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) has banned UFC welterweight fighter Nick Diaz from fighting in the state of Nevada for the next five years after testing positive for marijuana before a fight.


In January, Diaz was given three drug tests on the night of his fight with mixed martial artist Anderson Silva. Two tests done by the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory showed that Diaz was under the legal limit for marijuana. However, one test performed by Quest Diagnostics revealed that he was above the limit, which was all it took for the NSAC to give Diaz a five year suspension.


Should Diaz have been given such a severe suspension for the use of marijuana? The Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory is accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency, yet their two results were ignored, while one test by a lesser known lab was taken very seriously. Diaz has admitted to being a marijuana user in the past, but many believe that this suspension is too harsh, even if he did have the drug in his system before the fight. Since the NSAC made their decision, UFC fighters, fans, and commentators have spoken out in defense for Diaz.     



UFC commentator and marijuana advocate Joe Rogan has been one of the more outspoken individuals defending Diaz. After Diaz was banned from fighting in the state of Nevada, Rogan tweeted that this decision was an “irresponsible abuse of power,” and that it was “callous, idiotic, and sickening.” However, Rogan discussed the potential marijuana has as a performance-enhancing drug in August with the UFC’s vice president of athlete health and performance, Jeff Novitzky.       


“Big name guys that are high-level jiu jitsu competitors, they train high every time and they love it. I just think you can’t ignore that. I think it’s quite possible that there’s an advantage to using,” said Rogan. “Marijuana is absolutely used to help people with pain management. Absolutely. So I don’t think it should be legal to compete with.”



The performance-enhancing effects of marijuana aren’t fully known, which is why so many people disagree with the suspension length given to Diaz. In the past, multiple tests have shown that Silva had taken performance-enhancing anabolic steroids, yet he was only suspended for one year.   


If the ban isn’t lifted, it could mean the end of Diaz’s fighting career in the state of Nevada. Many UFC fighters have retired in their late 20s to early 30s, and the MGM Grand in Las Vegas is one of the biggest UFC venues for top dollar prize fights. By the time Diaz will be allowed to fight again in Nevada, he will be 37. Diaz is expected to appeal the NSAC’s decision in an attempt to save his career; with the support he’s gained, it’s possible his suspension will be reduced or removed.


Should the NSAC lift his suspension? Why was he given such a long suspension to begin with? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.


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