Why Nate Diaz’s Post UFC Vaping May Be OK with the NSAC but not USADA

Update October 6, 2016 – USADA has issued Diaz a public warning for this anti-doping policy violation but sensibly nothing more.  USADA issued the following press release

USADA announced today that UFC athlete Nate Diaz, of Stockton, Calif., has admitted using a prohibited substance during the in-competition period and has accepted a public warning for his policy violation.

Diaz, 31, admitted using the prohibited substance, Cannabidiol, following his bout at UFC 202 on August 20, 2016. Diaz’s use of the Cannabidiol occurred during the in-competition period, which is defined in the UFC Anti-Doping Policy as “the period starting six hours prior to the commencement of the scheduled weigh-in and ending six hours after the conclusion of the Bout.” Cannabidiol is a specified substance in the class of Cannabinoids and prohibited only in-competition under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

As part of its results management process, USADA gathered information and communicated with the athlete about the circumstances of his use of Cannabidiol on August 20, 2016. USADA concluded that Diaz mistakenly believed that the in-competition period ended after he provided a post-bout sample to USADA. In addition, the in-competition urine and blood samples provided by Diaz before his admitted use were analyzed and reported as negative for all prohibited substances, including Cannabinoids. Based on these circumstances, USADA determined that a public warning was an appropriate response to Diaz’s use of a specified substance during the in-competition period.

Nate Diaz Vaping Tweet

In the aftermath of his UFC 202 re-match against Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz was quick to give a back stage interview reportedly vaping CBD Oil.

Cannabinoids are banned in-competition both by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and by the United States Anti Doping Agency who each have jurisdiction over potential competitor doping for this event.  The 2016 WADA Prohibited List defines these as follows:

  • Natural, e.g. cannabis, hashish and marijuana, or synthetic delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Cannabimimetics, e.g. “Spice”, JWH-018, JWH-073, HU-210.

Despite the ban, and despite the ingestion of a substance mere minutes following the bout Diaz’s vaping may not violate the prohibition.

Both the NSAC and USADA generally use World Anti Doping Agency standards when it comes to the in-competition marijuana ban.

WADA has the following definition of in-competition ingestion:

In-Competition: Unless provided otherwise in the rules of an International Federation or the ruling body of the Event in question, “In-Competition” means the period commencing twelve hours before a Competition in which the Athlete is scheduled to participate through the end of such Competition and the Sample collection process related to such Competition.

USADA uses a similar definition:

In-competition refers to the period commencing twelve hours before a competition in which the athlete is scheduled to participate through the end of the competition and the sample collection process related to the competition.

The NSAC, when debating harsher (and consistent) anti-doping penalties published this document implying they follow (and will continue to follow) the WADA in-competition definition:

We will continue to follow WADA’s definitions, particularly the definition of “In‐competition.

However, for some reason the UFC-USADA custom tailored anti-doping contract changes this definition to include a period of up to 6 hours post bout reading as follows:

“In-Competition” means the period commencing six hours prior to the commencement of the scheduled weigh-in and ending six hours after the conclusion of the Bout.

So, assuming Nate Diaz provided a post bout sample to the NSAC (assuming they wished to collect one) before vaping and assuming that sample comes back negative than this escapade will not amount to an NSAC  anti-doping violation.

Interestingly, if USADA wishes to collect a sample in the hours following the vaping Diaz’s choice may prove problematic.  It is possible that USADA can interpret the Cannabinoid ban to not include CBD but this would be peculiar as CBD is clearly a Cannabinoid.

It is also worth noting that a failed test is not needed for an anti-doping violation.  As Mirko Filipovic learned, a mere admission can be sufficient under the USADA policy.  This was also demonstrated by the ongoing Lyoto Machida suspension.


10 thoughts on “Why Nate Diaz’s Post UFC Vaping May Be OK with the NSAC but not USADA

    1. Thank you for your comment. It is not “THC” that is on the WADA/USADA Prohibited List but rather “Cannabinoids”. CBD is indeed a Cannabinoid.

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