According to UFC president Dana White, Marijuana is more prevalent in MMA than you thought, and he may be right.
Currently the UFC contracts 475 fighter (and growing), and of those fighters, White has made the assessment that 80 percent of them use marijuana. The estimation came about during yesterday’s UFC 155 press scrum when Yahoo Sports asked about precautions taken to protect the sport from performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
“Forget about PEDs,” White said. “If we get into this system that we’re talking about where we would randomly test these guys, do you know how many guys would probably test positive for marijuana? It would be probably off the charts.”
“If you randomly test them and then [the results] came out, you’d get the exact same suspension [for using marijuana] as you do for using PEDs.”
With big names in the sport such as Nick Diaz, Thiago Silva, Dave Herman, Jake Shields, and Matt Riddle recently failing PED tests for that very reason, White may not be far off in his assumption. This is not to say that White agrees with the athletic commissions that marijuana is in fact a PED that deserves a one-year suspension from the sport.
“I do not think the penalty should be the same for taking marijuana as it is for [using] performance-enhancing drugs,” said White.
“I don’t even smoke marijuana, but it’s [expletive] illegal and you shouldn’t do it,” White said. “OK? But the guys are going to get busted [for testing positive for marijuana] and they’re going to get the same suspension they would for a PED. When you take a performance-enhancing drug and you go in and you face another fighter, you can hurt him. You know what I mean?
“But [giving fighters similar suspensions for using both PEDs and marijuana] is just crazy. It’s so easy to sit there and say, ‘Here’s what you should do. Here’s how you fix it,’ but there are so many flaws in the system, it’s just not that easy. It’s not just, ‘Hey, let’s sign up this company [to do testing].’ There’s a whole [expletive] of things that would come about.”
White brings up a good point. Regardless of your feelings on marijuana, how can the sport continue to ‘weed-out’ true performance enhancers, such as steroids, when more than half of the athletes would be suspended for a less offensive drug? Suggestion? In most other high-level sports, testing is done by the World Anti-Doping Agencies (WADA), which only lists marijuana use as a six-month suspension. Currently this has been the same policy for the UFC when they hold their own drug testing, outside of the commissions reach. Problem is, most MMA fights are regulated by the local athletic commission, which sees marijuana and steroid use with no difference.