The Nevada State Athletic Commission, a government-run state-level sports regulatory agency, has suspended Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts fighter Nick Diaz for five years and fined him $165,000 for allegedly testing positive for marijuana in a post-fight drug test after his loss to Anderson Silva in January’s UFC 183 event.
However, the NSAC only suspended his opponent Anderson Silva, who allegedly tested positive for steroids during a drug test following the same fight, for one year, drawing fire from critics who say that Diaz’s punishment is unusually harsh.
The NSAC claims that it issued the stiff punishment because Diaz had been suspended twice before, but as MMA Mania notes, the NSAC’s own policies state that a third positive marijuana test calls for a three year suspension.
In the below video, Diaz can be seen claiming that his suspension is “ridiculous” considering what he called widespread use of steroids among UFC fighters and in the context that Silva was suspended for a shorter period of time than him despite allegedly using performance enhancers against him in the same fight.
MMA Junkie’s Ben Fowlkes wrote, “It’s ridiculous, when you think about it. After all the absurd excuses and explanations we’ve heard in NSAC hearings over the years, all the laughable defenses in the face of serious charges, and the one that would provoke the ire of the commissioners would be Diaz’s shockingly competent defense against accusations that he used a substance he is very well known for using.”
Fowlkes said that NSAC’s harsh punishment was motivated primarily by the fact that Diaz attempted to defend himself against the charges rather than apologizing and begging for leniency, “Had he shown up and gone through the motions of an apology, he might have gotten off much easier. This commission knows how to reward the good dogs who roll over and beg. When confronted with a meticulous, aggressive defense, such as the one Diaz’s legal team put forth, the NSAC commissioners can only respond with indignant annoyance.”
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto wrote, “There is little doubt the NSAC’s decision on Monday to suspend Nick Diaz for five years was a personal one. The ruling did not align with actions taken previously by the NSAC and it actually went against a proposed set of suspension lengths the commission itself introduced this year.”
Okamoto added, “If there is one thing the NSAC dislikes more than a guilty athlete, it’s a guilty athlete who shows no remorse. And in three separate NSAC disciplinary hearings for marijuana-related offenses, Diaz has shown no remorse.”
For 32-year-old Diaz to be banned from UFC events for five years constitutes a de-facto lifetime ban.
Diaz maintains that he did not violate the NSAC’s policy on marijuana. According to Fox Sports, Diaz’s attorney is expected to appeal the decision.
NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar said, defending the commission’s rationale behind its harsh punishment, “This not just a case of marijuana. I think this is a case of complete lack of disregard for the sport.”
ESPN staff writer Brett Okamoto criticized the NSAC’s rationale and said, “Near the end of deliberations, NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar made it a point to say Diaz’s case was about ‘more than marijuana,’ but that’s where he was wrong. This case shouldn’t be about more than marijuana. It shouldn’t be about making a statement to future athletes or finally putting a rebellious Diaz in his place… Disciplinary hearings are about administering justice — with due process.” He concluded, “Monday’s disciplinary hearing — and the message it sent — was the wrong one.“