The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) met today regarding the suspension and ban of two of mixed martial arts (MMA) most well-known athletes. UFC fighter Nick Diaz (26-9-0, 2 NC) had his previous suspension of five years reduced to 18 months, retroactive to his last bout on January 31, 2015. Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC), who was set to have his lifetime ban re-heard by the commission after a Nevada district court order, had his case delayed by the NSAC.
On September 14, 2015, Nick Diaz was handed an unprecedented five-year suspension and $165,000 fine by the NSAC after testing positive for marijuana metabolites following his January 31, 2015, bout with Anderson Silva at UFC 183. Diaz had previously tested positive for marijuana in Nevada following contests in 2007 and 2012. The NSAC cites the previous violations when justifying the severity of his most recent suspension. Diaz and his legal team immediately planned to appeal the suspension following the ruling.
Diaz submitted three urine samples the night of the bout: one prior to the contest and two in hours following. The first and the third tests were administered under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) protocols, both providing negative results. The second test was administered by Quest Diagnostics, a non-WADA accredited lab in New Jersey. That test reported the lone positive result of 733 ng/ml, well over the NSAC threshold for marijuana metabolites of 150 ng/ml. Diaz’s legal team argued there is “no medically plausible” explanation for the positive test result in congruence with the two negative WADA approved tests.
The resulting five-year suspension caused an uproar in the MMA community. Fans, media, and fellow fighters actively expressed their disapproval of the ruling. A petition to lift the ban garnered over 100,000 signatures. Former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey likened the five-year suspension to “life in prison”, considering a fighter’s limited longevity in the sport and Diaz’s current age (32).
During today’s meeting, the NSAC unanimously approved a settlement, reducing Diaz’s suspension of five years to 18 months. In addition, his fine of $165,000 was reduced to $100,000. Diaz is now able to return to competition as early as August of this year. His suspension ends July 31.
The NSAC was also set to re-hear the lifetime ban of Wanderlei Silva after a Nevada district court judge rescinded the ban last May. On September 23, 2014, Silva received a lifetime ban and a $70,000 fine by the NSAC for failure to submit himself to the commission’s random screening protocols. Prior to a scheduled bout with Chael Sonnen at UFC 175, Silva refused to undergo a random drug test by the NSAC (Sonnen subsequently failed a drug test, and the bout was cancelled).
The judge who rescinded the ban, while acknowledging the NSAC did have jurisdiction over Silva despite him not being a licensed athlete at the time, determined there was not sufficient evidence to support a lifetime ban. The judge ordered the case be re-heard by the commission. However, previous commission meetings since the ruling have tabled Silva’s case.
According to the NSAC meeting agenda for January 12, 2016, the first item was a “Re‐hearing of disciplinary complaint and proposed consent order against mixed martial artist Wanderlei Silva, for possible action”. Today, the NSAC once again delayed Silva’s hearing. The commission cited a disapproval of the terms being negotiated with Silva’s legal team. His case is available to be re-heard at the NSAC’s next meeting in February.