Let’s Talk Nate Diaz vs Jake Paul, VADA, Texas and Cannabis

Nate Diaz is scheduled to box Jake Paul this summer in Texas.

The fighters have agreed to VADA anti-doping testing. VADA is a private anti doping contractor who largely tests for the substances banned by the World Anti Doping Agency. With one key exception. They don’t test for cannabis.

Texas, like any US State, has their own athletic commission. Commissions have their own list of banned substances. Many default to the WADA list but not Texas. Texas has their own list. And right in the middle of it are cannabinoids. And unlike WADA thresholds for cannabis Texas is not nearly as generous.

Texas regulations state that fighters must comply with a request for a blood or urine sample “if directed by the executive director or his designee.“. MMAJunkie reports that Texas will use this power and subject Diaz to marijuana testing.

Some observations – random VADA out of competition testing will add far more integrity to this bout than an announced in competition cannabis test. Diaz should be aware that if he fails this test (even if marginal traces of cannabis consumed weeks before the bout are found) a win can be overturned to a no contests and he can face suspension and administrative penalties and sanctions.

Diaz will either need to stop consuming cannabis well ahead of competition, consider changing venues if other stakeholders are agreeable, or take his risks with the zero tolerance Texas commission.

There is precedent for medical marijuana users being granted Therapeutic Use Exemptions for Cannabis. A client of mine had obtained such an exemption both in Colorado and in British Columbia. Both these jurisdictions used WADA standards. Texas is a kingdom unto itself and it is unclear if they would grant a TUE or what standards they would use.

Below is a list of Texas’ anti doping regulations which Diaz’s camp should promptly familiarize themselves with.

(o) The administration or use of any drugs, alcohol, stimulants, or injections in any part of the body, either before or during a bout to or by a contestant is prohibited unless a drug is prescribed, administered or authorized by a licensed physician and the executive director authorizes the contestant to use the drug. A contestant taking prescribed or over the counter medication must inform the executive director of such usage at least 24 hours prior to the bout.

(p) A person who applies for or holds a license as a contestant shall provide a urine specimen or blood sample for drug testing either before or after the bout, if directed by the executive director or his designee. The applicant or licensee is responsible for paying the costs of the drug screen. A positive test, refusal to provide a sample, failure to comply with the testing process, or attempting to substitute, dilute, mask or adulterate a sample during collection shall be considered a violation of subsection (o) and will result in an automatic 90 day medical suspension and may also result in administrative penalties and sanctions.

(q) A positive test (which has been confirmed by a laboratory authorized by the executive director or his designee) for any of the following substances shall be conclusive evidence of a violation of subsection (o) and will result in an automatic 90 day medical suspension and may also result in administrative sanctions or monetary penalties or both:  (1) Stimulants;  (2) Narcotics;  (3) Phencyclidines;  (4) Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines;  (5) Cannabinoids (marijuana);  (6) Anabolic agents (exogenous and endogenous);  (7) Peptide hormones;  (8) Masking agents;  (9) Diuretics;  (10) Glucocorticosteroids;  (11) Beta-2 agonists (including both optical isomers where relevant) are prohibited except salbutamol (maximum 1600 micrograms over 24 hours), formoterol (maximum 36 micrograms over 24 hours) and salmeterol when taken by inhalation in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommended therapeutic regimen;  (12) Hormones and Metabolic Modulators;  (13) Alcohol; or  (14) Any pharmacological substance not addressed in subsection (q) that is not currently approved by any governmental regulatory health authority for human therapeutic use such as drugs under pre-clinical or clinical development or discontinued; or designer drugs; or substances approved only for veterinary use.

(r) Failure to disclose the use of a substance described in subsection (q) constitutes a violation of subsection (o).

(s) As a condition of licensure, contestants waive right of confidentiality of medical records relating to treatment or diagnosis of any condition that relates to the contestant’s ability to participate in a bout. All medical records submitted to the department, without the contestant’s consent to release, are confidential and shall be used only by the executive director or his representative for the purpose of ascertaining the contestant’s ability to be licensed, or participate in a bout.

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