Fighter Nick Diaz suspended 5 years for controversial positive drug test

The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) has suspended UFC fighter Nick Diaz for an unprecedented five years after he tested positive for marijuana following his fight in January at UFC 183.

In reaching the decision on such a lengthy suspension, the commission cited Diaz’ two previous positive tests for marijuana, one in 2007 and one in 2012, and his no-show for another test in 2009, according to Shaun Al-Shatti of MMA Fighting. However, the results of the most recent positive test and how they were reached have raised questions about the legitimacy of this suspension and led to Diaz’ attorney calling it “a personal vendetta.”

According to Brett Okamoto of ESPN, Diaz was tested three times on the night of the fight. Two of the urine samples, one taken before the fight and one taken after the fight, were tested by a lab accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and came back negative, “well below [the] allowable threshold.”

A third urine sample, taken after the fight, was tested by a lab in New Jersey not accredited by WADA. That sample came back positive at “nearly five times the allowable limit” for marijuana metabolites. The B-sample for the positive test was never tested, according to Al-Shatti.

The NSAC defended the results saying, “we do have a positive test, through a method we’ve used over time.”

NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar said the issue was more than just the positive test for marijuana.

“This is not just a marijuana issue,” Aguilar told ESPN. “This is an issue of marijuana, a lack of being forthright, a lack of cooperation to make the sport better, a disregard for rules — it hurts other athletes just as much.”

Diaz’ attorney, Lucas Middlebrook said his client will appeal and suggested that the commission made the issue about a lack of respect from Diaz.

“Based on the facts, if they were to make such a decision, it would be ripe for judicial review,” Middlebrook told ESPN. “This was a kangaroo court, and you heard the commission: Their decision wasn’t based on fact. It wasn’t based on evidence. One commissioner said, ‘Your attorneys were very persuasive, but you don’t respect us. So here’s a five-year ban.'”

ESPN calls Diaz “an admitted medical-marijuana user in California.”

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