UFC Needs to Eliminate Double Standards for Drug Test Failures

Jeremy Botter@jeremybotterMMA Senior WriterMarch 1, 2013

February 4, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Carlos Condit (left) fights against Nick Diaz (right) during UFC 143 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Carlos Codit defeated Nick Diaz. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Riddle was cut from the Ultimate Fighting Championship after failing his second drug test for marijuana after beating Che Mills at UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald earlier this month.

That's understandable. As I noted in my video on Wednesday afternoon—and I probably wasn't clear enough about this point—the easiest part of everything that surrounds an actual fight is passing the drug test. All you have to do is avoid doing drugs, and you'll pass with flying colors. You get to keep your win, you aren't fined any part of your purse and you get to keep your job.

Simple, right?

I understand that current sporting marijuana laws are silly. Pot is not a performance-enhancing drug. If anything, it's a performance deterrent. And the drug tests used by all major athletic commissions are only detecting marijuana metabolites.

You can smoke weed one time, three weeks prior to your fight, and still have traces of metabolites in your system when you take your drug test. The test isn't catching guys who toke up before their fights or even the week leading up to their fights; it's catching guys who smoke a month or more prior to fight night. That's just silly.

Not only that, but the World Anti-Doping Agency only considers marijuana usage during competition an actual offense. Meanwhile, pot smokers are heavily punished by commissions, while permits for testosterone usage are freely given to just about anyone who asks for one.

Still, the rules are the rules, and you're obliged to follow them when you agree to step in the cage. You may think that banning soccer kicks is ludicrous, but you'll still get disqualified for breaking the rules in the cage. 

The same applies to drug tests. No matter how dumb the rules are, you still have to follow them. I have no issues with Riddle being cut. He knew the consequences when he decided to fire up that joint, and now he's paying for the decision. That's the way it works in all walks of life.

What I do have an issue with, however, is the complete and total double standard that is applied to UFC fighters based on where they rank on the superstar scale.

Nick Diaz, after losing to Carlos Condit just over a year ago, failed his post-fight drug test for marijuana. Diaz served his suspension. And when he came back, he was given an immediate title shot at Georges St-Pierre, not because he was deserving, but because he has the ability to draw pay-per-view buyers for a major fight.

And then there are the public comments from Dana White, who tweeted the following after learning that boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was fined $900,000 after failing his own test for marijuana after his September bout against Sergio Martinez:

Chavez Jr was fined 900k by the NSAC for testing pos for marijuana!! The NSAC has officially lost its mind!

— Dana White (@danawhite) February 28, 2013

So, let me get this straight, if I can: The NSAC is out of its mind because it fined Chavez $900,000 for using marijuana, but Riddle was fired from his job and his livelihood for doing the same thing? Diaz was given a title shot after failing a test and losing his last fight, but Riddle was disposed of?

These double standards are baffling. I'm not saying Riddle shouldn't have been cut because I believe that, under the current rules, Zuffa was well within its rights to terminate his contract. Again, the rules are stupid, and they need to be changed. But they're still the rules at this moment, and Riddle broke them twice.

But if you're going to fire Riddle for using marijuana, you can't go out of your way to bash the Nevada commission when it fines someone for doing the same. Sure, the fine imposed on Chavez was incredibly steep—the second-largest fine ever doled out by the state—but so is firing someone from his job. 

Chavez will have plenty of money left after paying his fine; Riddle, meanwhile, will likely be forced to fight for much less money than the UFC paid him.

The athletic commissions need to take a deep look at their laws governing the usage of marijuana. But until they do, we're stuck with the current rules, and the standards by which those rules are enforced need to be applied to everyone. It doesn't matter if they're preliminary card fighters or main-event superstars. 

Your ability to sell a pay-per-view shouldn't afford you special privileges. The rules are the rules, and they need to apply equally to everyone.