Georges St. Pierre is backing his former opponent. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Nick Diaz has an unlikely ally in former rival Georges St. Pierre as the Stockton, Calif., native fights the lengthy suspension he recently received from the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Diaz tested positive for marijuana following his UFC 183 bout with Anderson Silva on Jan. 31. After a combative hearing last month in which commissioner Pat Lundvall initially proposed a lifetime ban for Diaz, the NAC suspended the fighter for five years and fined him $165,000. The unprecedented ruling came even as Diaz’s team presented discrepancies found in the three pre-fight tests administered within a five-hour period on the night of the bout; the first (49.731 ng/ml) and third (61.104 ng/ml) samples collected found Diaz’s marijuana metabolite threshold to be below the minimum level, while a third sample (733.23 ng/ml) was nearly fifteen times higher than the first.
Both negative tests came from the World Anti Doping Agency-accredited Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory, while the positive test was from the non-WADA accredited Quest Diagnostics. However, the NAC took what many perceived as a vindictive approach toward Diaz, as it emphasized his his two previous failed tests in Nevada as well as his inability to correctly fill out the pre-fight questionnaire.
Diaz’s punishment sparked outrage throughout the MMA community. Silva, meanwhile, was previously suspended for one year for testing positive for steroids at UFC 183. St. Pierre, who was famously irked by Diaz’s antics leading up to their showdown at UFC 158, believes the NAC came down too harshly on the controversial fighter.
“Personally I think five years is too much. Especially when you think about Anderson Silva and the other guys who were doping and received a lighter suspension compared to him,” St. Pierre told Canadian outlet RDS.
St. Pierre, who defeated Diaz via unanimous decision in March 2013, walked away from the sport in part because he believed the UFC did not have a stringent enough drug testing program. Still, the ex-welterweight king feels that the commission unfairly targeted Diaz.
"I think they wanted to make an example out of him to send a message because he's a colorful character who talks a lot and makes a lot of noise,” St. Pierre said. “They wanted to make an example out of him like they did in the Olympics with Marion Jones, for example. Unfortunately, it fell on him, but I think everyone is entitled to a second chance."
St. Pierre also disputed the notion that marijuana could serve as a performance enhancer in a fight.
"This is a drug, yes, but I think there should be different penalties for certain products that competitors use, because then it does not really make sense,” St. Pierre said. “Marijuana can help a person suffering from anxiety, but it cannot make you physically stronger or more powerful, more efficient. I do not think it should be judged so severely.”
St. Pierre does not have any hard feelings toward Diaz from the promotion of their UFC 158 meeting. “Rush” instead recognizes the passion that surrounds the controversial welterweight and plans to offer any type of support he can for his former foe.
"Nick is very charismatic; he draws a lot of attention. But it's not someone I hate,” he said. “I have no hatred towards him. Many things had been said before our fight, but it was only in sporting terms. I did not take anything personal.
"We need guys like him in the sport and I hope he will return soon. If I can help in one way or another, without getting in trouble, it'll make me happy to do so,” St. Pierre continued. “This is someone that I like and I wish him the best of luck."