When Mixed Martial Artist Nate Diaz started openly vaping cannabis oil during a post-UFC press conference last week, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) immediately took notice. After having suffered a majority decision defeat to opponent Conor McGregor, Diaz was attempting to explain to the press why he felt that he should have been awarded the victory. Instead, journalists immediately focused on the strange mechanical device that he was puffing away on during the interview.
When one reporter asked Diaz what was in the vape pen, he readily admitted that it was CBD oil, claiming that it “helps with the healing process and inflammation.” Unfortunately, cannabis is one of those substances that is heavily restricted by the USADA. According to current regulations, no MMA fighter is allowed to ingest cannabis, in any form, from six hours before the competition to six hours afterward. As a result, Nate Diaz is now facing a UFC investigation into possible violations of anti-doping policies. If found guilty, he could be suspended from professional fighting for up to one year.
Not the first marijuana scandal for the UFC
Now, the average sports enthusiasts might be thinking, “What does smoking weed have to do with illegal doping? Maybe Diaz didn’t know that cannabis is on the list of restricted substances?” While this seems like a valid argument, the USADA had previously suspended MMA fighter Diego Brandao just nine months prior for testing positive for marijuana metabolites during a fight-night drug test. So the idea of Diaz claiming “ignorance of the law” is not really a valid defense.
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Nate Diaz has never tested positive for doping of any kind throughout his entire MMA career, which may cut him some slack with both the UFA and the USADA. The results of his post-competition drug screening for last week’s event have yet to be announced. So there is currently no proof that Diaz was under the influence of marijuana during the actual fight, but it seems highly unlikely. Ryan Madden, a spokesman for the USADA, issued the following statement.
“I can confirm that USADA is aware of the situation and is currently gathering information in order to determine the next appropriate steps.”
Nate Diaz is not the only professional athlete that uses cannabis as a natural pain reliever and anti-inflammatory. Former NBA players Jay Williams and Cliff Robinson are public advocates for the drug, and Williams even estimates that as much as 80% of the NBA are already self-medicating with cannabis in one form or the other. Professional Football players and even Olympic athletes are also on record in support of the substance for medical purposes. But regardless of the sport, the same USADA rules apply. No weed six hours before, after, and during the competition.
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