Nick Diaz vs The NSAC
Disclaimer: This column, as is the case with most things that I write, is an MMA op-ed column. The opinions and views expressed are my own and may not necessarily reflect CBS Sports, the 920 AM affiliate, or insideSTL Enterprises, LLC.
If covering MMA has taught me just one thing it is this: Never say never. After being given a five-year (essentially lifetime) ban by the Nevada State Athletic Commission from competing in MMA after failing a third drug test due to the presence of marijuana, 32-year-old Nick Diaz and his fans have thrown the NSAC a surprising haymaker.
Steven Marrocco of USA Today’s MMAJunkie.com reported that on the same day as the suspension was announced, a petition calling for its lifting was posted on the website of the White House. 100,000 signatures were required. On October 12 Marrocco reported that Diaz was still in need of 22,000 signatures before the petition’s cutoff of October 16.
Said petition surpassed its goal by 7,978 signatures on October 14 according to Diaz’ Twitter account. There has also been a GoFundMe page set up to help Diaz pay his $165,000 fine. 37 donors have raised just over $900.
So what now? Assistant White House Press Secretary Frank Benenati informed MMAJunkie, “We do plan on responding within 60 days, per our new rule.”
In an ideal world (for some), marijuana would be decriminalized and that’s how this situation ends--Diaz would be in the clear. As you are all aware though, that’s not the way things are. Personally I still feel that he deserves a punishment, but not this one.
Georges “Rush” St. Pierre, who was the picture-perfect shining star that a champion is meant to be in al aspects during his active career, shared his thoughts with MMAWeekly.com: “I think they wanted to use him to pass a message because he is a colorful character who speaks a lot, that makes a lot of noise. It wanted to set an example as was done in Olympic sports with Marion Jones, for example. Unfortunately, it fell on him, but I believe that everyone is entitled to a second chance...”
In the NSAC’s defense, that is their point. Diaz was given a second chance (AND avoided an actual lifetime ban thanks to the failure of his drug test happening before the UFC’s new, “revamped” policy. Still, St. Pierre brought up something mentioned by everyone from Ronda Rousey, Daniel Cormier (in a similar view as mine), to comedian Katt Williams, “It is a drug, yes, but I believe that there should be different penalties for certain products that competitors use,” he said. “Marijuana can help a person who suffers from anxiety, but it can’t make you physically stronger or more powerful, more efficient. I do not believe that it should be judged in a severe way.” It is precisely that reason that I and others feel the NSAC is in the wrong. While I am advocating for a punishment , I feel that whether or not the suspension/fine is lifted entirely, maybe policy could be rewritten to reflect that while the use of marijuana--recreationally, let’s say-- would still be punishable, it would not be considered on the same level as performance enhancers or harder recreational drugs like heroin, etc… For now, as mentioned in a related article, Diaz has retained lawyers offered by the UFC to help his legal team. There is work on an appeal that could be filed in the coming weeks.- Inside MMA Sources: USA Today- MMAJunkie.com AXS TV’s Inside MMA MMAWeekly.com