Why Diego Brandao’s Marijuana Test May Lead to A Lesson in Triple Jeopardy

Update May 21, 2016 – In addition to the below Brandao remains on the NSAC’s agenda for their May 25 meeting noting “Hearing on Disciplinary Complaint against mixed martial artist Diego Brandao, for possible action

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Update May 20, 2016Today USADA issued a press release stating that Bradao accepted the anti-doping violation and agreed to a 9 month sanction.   The press release reads as follows:

USADA announced today that Diego Brandao, of São Paulo, Brazil, tested positive for a prohibited substance and has accepted a nine-month sanction for his anti-doping policy violation.

Brandao, 28, tested positive for Carboxy-THC, a metabolite of marijuana and/or hashish, above the decision limit of 180 ng/mL, stemming from an in-competition sample collected on January 2, 2016 at UFC 195 in Las Vegas, Nev. Marijuana and hashish are in the class of Cannabinoids on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List, and prohibited, in-competition, under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

Cannabinoids are listed as Specified Substances on the WADA Prohibited List. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, the standard sanction for an anti-doping policy violation involving a Specified Substance is a one-year period of ineligibility, which may be reduced to a public reprimand and no period of ineligibility depending on the athlete’s degree of fault.

Brandao accepted a nine-month period of ineligibility, which began on January 2, 2016, the date of sample collection; however, per the Policy, Brandao is eligible for an additional one-month reduction in sanction length pending the satisfactory completion of an approved anti-doping educational program. Further, Brandao’s positive test also falls under the jurisdiction of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who may impose additional sanctions, including fines or a period of ineligibility that is longer than the period set forth above.

As a result of the doping violation, Brandao has been disqualified from all competitive results achieved on and subsequent to January 2, 2016, including forfeiture of any medals, points, and prizes.

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Today the UFC issued a press release advising that featherweight Diego Brandao tested positive for marijuana metabolites in an in-competition test at UFC 195 which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The press release reads as follows:

The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) informed Diego Brandao of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation involving Carboxy-Tetrahydrocannabinol (“Carboxy-THC”) which is a metabolite of marijuana and/or hashish, above the decision limit of 180 ng/mL, stemming from an in-competition sample collected following his fight on January 2, 2016 in Las Vegas.

These readings, if accurate, not only violate the UFC’s/USADA’s in house Anti-Doping Program but also are above what the Nevada State Athletic Commission tolerates for the in-competition window.

As the recent Nick Diaz saga demonstrated, the NSAC is not shy to issue heavy fines and suspensions for in competition marijuana failures.  Brandao’s reported positive test was conducted by USADA, not the NSAC, but assuming the test results are shared with the NSAC (and reportedly they have) or assuming that the NSAC administered tests with the same results they will have jurisdiction to issue penalties against Brandao.

The fighter’s woes won’t end there though as the USADA Anit-Doping Policy spells out tough penalties, which can be imposed simultaneously to anything the NSAC chooses to do, for in competition marijuana failures.  Marijuana is labeled as a ‘specified substance’ under the policy with the following prescribed punishment –

10.2.2 The period of Ineligibility shall be one year where the Anti-Doping Policy Violation involves a Specified Substance.

The policy also allows “forfeiture of title, ranking, purse or other compensation“.

If the above was not enough the Policy also allows the UFC to level their own fine if they so wish with Section 10.10 reading as follows –

UFC may impose a fine on an Athlete or other Person who commits an Anti-Doping Policy Violation up to the sum of $500,000 depending on the seriousness of the violation and the relative compensation of the Athlete or other Person

Brandao may unfortunately learn a very costly lesson if he cannot clear himself of this alleged positive result.

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