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UFC won't punish fighters for using marijuana amid policy change

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USADA 'Essentially' Eliminates Marijuana Use as UFC Violation

Effective Jan. 1 retroactively, a positive Carboxy-THC drug test will no longer be considered a violation unless USADA is able to prove that an athlete intentionally used it for the purpose of improved performance, according to a Press release. The world's largest mixed martial arts promotion confirmed on Thursday that it will no longer worry about testing positive for carboxy-THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

The UFC will no longer sanction fighters who use marijuana in most cases, which is a major change in its anti-doping policy. The world's largest mixed martial arts promotion confirmed on Thursday that it will no longer worry about testing positive for carboxy-THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, unless it believes a fighter has used it. intentionally to improve its performance.

All other cannabinoids naturally derived from marijuana are no longer banned substances, said Jeff Novitzky, UFC senior vice president for athlete health and performance.

“The point is, when it comes to marijuana, we care about an athlete's consumption on the day of the fight and not the days or weeks leading up to it, which is often the case in our history when it comes to relates to positive THC tests, ”said Novizky. The athletes UFC will still be subject to the marijuana rules under various sports consumption regulations. We hope this is the start of a larger discussion and change on this issue.

This is because the UFC's decision does not affect the rules of the various state sporting commissions and international governing bodies, but these groups often follow promoters' guidelines on anti-doping policy. The UFC is hoping state commissions will also relax their rules to reflect the more widespread tolerance for marijuana use.

But the fighters are not yet completely out of the woods. While USADA will no longer be strict on positive marijuana tests, most athletic commissions that oversee UFC events can still be.

Last year, the Nevada State Athletic Commission reduced its potential suspensions for marijuana use to six months, while the California commission typically only fined boxers $ 100. Other states may be more stringent.

UFC announces it will not punish fighters for use

The UFC does not allow boxers to compete under the influence of cannabinoids, but Mr Novitzky said the promotion recognizes that MMA boxers often use marijuana to manage pain or to relax. Fighters who advocate for legal use of marijuana in competition have already argued that a relaxation of the UFC's anti-marijuana rules could lead to a reduction in the use of more addictive antidepressants or pain relievers.

The UFC partnered with the US Anti-Doping Agency in 2015 to produce a comprehensive anti-doping program in a notoriously fraudulent sport. Mixed martial arts once frequently featured semi-open fighters using steroids and testosterone replacement therapy, among other performance improvements.

“The purpose of the UFC anti-doping program is to protect the rights of clean athletes by deterring intentional cheaters and holding accountable those who choose to take drugs in a fair and effective manner,” said Travis Tygart, CEO of USADA. "These amended rules aim to do that, and to continue to focus on preventing intentional cheating and not unnecessarily punishing athletes for behavior that does not affect the fairness or safety of the team." competition ”.

Despite its previous ban, marijuana and CBD products have played an important role in the training and financial support of many MMA fighters. Many fighters are sponsored by CBD companies, while others have started CBD-related businesses.

Nick and Nate Diaz, two semi-retired but very popular fighters from Stockton, Calif., Built their image as an outlaw in part around their enthusiastic use of marijuana and CBD products. Nick Diaz, who has not fought for six years, has tested positive for marijuana use after two of his last three fights.

Recreational use of marijuana is legal in 15 US states, while all but two states have legalized some level of medical use.

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