One of the biggest points of contention about the drug testing policy for the UFC, is the strict and frankly nonsensical stance on marijuana. Now it seems that USADA has made some changes on the use of the devil’s lettuce.
There have been a countless number of UFC fighters to have been effected by testing positive for marijuana. The fact that it was not banned outside of competition, but against the rules in competition have led to several suspensions.
The problem with this is the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support the thresholds that USADA put in place. An athlete, like Nate Diaz perhaps, could be a heavy user and quit lighting up a month out from a fight, but still test positive.
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UFC Makes Big Changes
Now it seems that the UFC has finally listened to the pushback from fans and fighters alike. According to reports, USADA announced on Thursday that they will no longer be sanctioning fighters strictly for testing positive.
There will no longer be any sort of usage threshold for fighters to stay within. That being said, if there is some sort of significant evidence pointing to performance-enhancing use can still be punished.
“The bottom line is that in regards to marijuana, we care about what an athlete consumed the day of a fight, not days or weeks before a fight, which has often been the case in our historic positive THC cases,” UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky said.
“Based on my informal discussion with athletes, there’s a significant number of percentage of athletes that choose to use marijuana, many for legitimate reasons outside of recreational,” Novitzky added.
“Many use it for pain control, anti-anxiety, to sleep, in lieu of more dangerous, more addictive drugs, so hopefully this being the first step to opening that up so that an athlete on Wednesday night of fight week instead of going to a Vicodin because their knee hurts and they can’t sleep can use a little bit of cannabis and get to sleep and have that pain control.
“It has no affect whatsoever on a competition on Saturday night, so it’s the right move, and I’m really excited about this revision and that specific policy change.”
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That being said, there are still some reasons to be cautious if you are UFC fighter. Chief among these is the athletic commissions, many of which still have their own procedures on marijuana usage.
“I would caution everybody to temper their enthusiasm about this because we still have the commission factor here, but we are actively working on that,” Novitzky said.
“We are educating, informing, lobbying them, and I hope not too far in the near future that we can get uniformity across all the rules as it relates to marijuana because I think it would certainly be a benefit to the athletes.”
Nevertheless, this is a massive step in the right direction. It was a silly restriction to begin with, and having it removed with likely help many careers moving forward.