The UFC will no longer punish fighters for using marijuana in most cases, making a major change in its anti-doping policy.
The world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion confirmed on Thursday that it would no longer worry about testing positive for carboxy-THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, unless it believes a fighter l ‘intentionally used to improve 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 bottom line is that when it comes to marijuana, we care about what an athlete consumes on the day of a fight, not the days or weeks before a fight, which has often been the case in our historical positive THC cases, ”Novitzky said. “UFC athletes will still be subject to the marijuana rules under various Sporting Commission regulations, but we hope this is the start of a larger discussion and changes on this issue with this group.
Indeed, the UFC decision does not affect the rules of various national sporting commissions and international governing bodies, but these groups often follow the guidance of the promoters in matters of anti-doping policy. The UFC hopes state commissions similarly relax their rules to reflect the more widespread tolerance for marijuana use.
The UFC won’t allow fighters to compete under the influence of cannabinoids, but Novitzky said the promotion recognizes that MMA fighters often use marijuana for pain management or relaxation. Fighters who advocate for legal and competitive marijuana use have previously argued that a relaxation of the UFC’s anti-marijuana rules could lead to a reduction in the use of more addictive pain medications.
The UFC partnered with the US Anti-Doping Agency in 2015 to produce a comprehensive anti-doping program in a notoriously turbulent sport. Mixed martial arts once frequently featured fighters semi-openly using steroids and testosterone replacement therapy, among other performance enhancements.
Despite its previous ban, marijuana and CBD products have played a prominent role in the training and financial support of many MMA fighters. Many fighters have CBD business sponsorships, while others have started CBD-related business ventures.
Nick and Nate Diaz, two semi-retired but hugely 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 hasn’t fought for six years, tested positive for marijuana use after two of his last three fights.
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