Nick Diaz Gets 1-Year Suspension, Fine from NAC for Failed UFC 143 Drug Test

By Tristen Critchfield May 21, 2012
Nick Diaz won’t be returning to the Octagon anytime soon.

After three months of back-and-forth between the Nevada Athletic Commission and the Diaz camp, the NAC handed the fighter a 12-month suspension -- retroactive to Feb. 4 -- for failing a drug test following UFC 143. The commission also fined the former Strikeforce welterweight champion 30 percent of his $200,000 purse from that night.

Monday’s hearing lasted several hours and ended with chairman Skip Avansino apologizing for the lengthy nature of the proceedings. The detailed arguments from Diaz’s counsel would ultimately do no good, as the commission ended the day with a number of unanswered concerns regarding Diaz’s failed test. Commissioner Pat Lundvall said that testimony was inconclusive as to when Diaz actually ingested marijuana metabolites -- although the fighter’s camp has maintained that it was eight days prior to his Feb. 4 fight.

Lundvall also raised the concern that Diaz admitted that marijuana allows him to train at a more concentrated level, making it similar to a performance enhancing drug. The commission noted that Diaz had listed his medical marijuana prescription on his pre-fight questionnaire prior to a 2011 Strikeforce bout in California but failed to do the same in Las Vegas before UFC 143. Diaz’s failure to produce a viable documentation for a medical exemption for marijuana contributed to his punishment.

“There is a process to get the exemption and I hope in the future it can be adhered to,” commissioner Francisco V. Aguilar said.

Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites following his unanimous decision loss to Carlos Condit in a UFC interim welterweight title bout at UFC 143. NAC executive director Keith Kizer filed a complaint after the test, which resulted in a temporary suspension for Diaz on Feb. 22.

Diaz’s attorney, Ross C. Goodman, responded to the complaint March 7 by saying that Diaz should not be subjected to disciplinary action because marijuana metabolites are not a banned substance as defined by the NAC for legal users of the drug. The NAC then pointed out that Diaz -- a medical marijuana patient in California for his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder -- had not been truthful by checking “no” on his pre-fight questionnaire when asked if he had taken any prescribed or over-the-counter drugs within two weeks of his bout or if he suffered from any serious medical conditions.

The NAC excluded Diaz from its April 24 agenda, prompting Diaz’s counsel to seek a preliminary injunction lifting the fighter’s temporary suspension. Goodman argued that continuing the suspension without a hearing for longer than 45 days violated the fighter’s due-process rights. That request was denied in Nevada district court on May 14, as it was ruled that the Stockton, Calif., native needed to appear before the commission before a judge intervenes.

It is the second time Diaz has failed a post-fight drug screen for marijuana. He was suspended for six months by the NAC after he tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in the drug, following a win over Takanori Gomi. The bout was later changed to a no contest.

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