UFC welterweight Nick Diaz has taken his fair share of hits in the octagon, but the hits he took outside the ring are apparently what might take him down. On Monday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) suspended Diaz for five years and fined him $165,000 for his latest cannabis violation. It was his third.
The NSAC guidelines call for a three-year suspension for a third cannabis offense. Despite that, the commission considered a lifetime ban before settling on five years. Nevertheless, the 26-9 fighter is 32 years old, so the current punishment is in effect a lifetime ban.
Diaz—previously suspended for six months in 2007 and one year in 2012 for cannabis—repeatedly pled the fifth to several dozen questions asked during the hearing. Afterward, the fighter did anything but invoke the fifth when speaking with the media.
“I wanted to tell them what I think,” he said. “I wanted to tell each and every one of them they’re a bunch of dorks. Everybody who sees them or knows who they are should tell them that. I would if it weren’t for my experts advising me to keep my mouth shut. I wanted to get up and say, ‘Look. You guys are way the fuck out of line.’”
“I think it was a completely arbitrary and capricious decision,” his attorney Lucas Middlebrook added. “Based on the facts, if they were to make such a decision, it would be ripe for judicial review. 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.’”
The California-based fighter, who is also a medical cannabis patient, tested positive for the plant after his January 31 bout against Anderson Silva at UFC 183. The five-year ban is controversial because Diaz underwent three drug tests the night of the fight, and he passed the other two. Quest Diagnostics analyzed the failed test, while the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) analyzed the two clean tests. A medical expert speaking on behalf of Diaz at the hearing noted several irregularities in the Quest Diagnostics test, and Middlebrook questioned how the fighter passed the other tests when the outlier showed cannabis levels at five times the limit.
The half-decade ban is also controversial because Silva, his opponent in that fight, also failed a drug test. Silva tested positive for anabolic steroids and androsterone (a form of testosterone), and he only received a one-year suspension. It is as if the DEA itself handed down the punishments.
“We do have a positive test, through a method we’ve used over time,” argued NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar. “This is not just a marijuana issue. 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. I don’t have an ego on this commission. Maybe some think I do, but I don’t. We have to do our job as regulators. This is not solely a case of marijuana.”
Comedian Joe Rogan, a UFC commentator and former Fear Factor host, commented on the ordeal via Twitter. He wrote, “NSCA suspending Nick Diaz for 5 years for pot is an irresponsible abuse of power. It’s callous, idiotic and sickening.”
A dodged drug test landed another fighter a lifetime ban in 2014, but a Nevada judge reserved the ruling last May. The five-year ban for Diaz is the next-longest suspension ever issued by the NSAC. His attorney said they too will appeal the suspension.