UFC under spotlight after Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz test positive for drugs
The UFC is facing a crisis as Anderson Silva, widely regarded as the greatest of all time in mixed martial arts, and his opponent Nick Diaz from Saturday night's Las Vegas headliner tested positive for steroids and marijuana respectively in out-of-competition testing.
It compounds the ignominy of two weeks ago, when Jon Jones, the UFC light-heavyweight champion, tested positive for cocaine metabolites.
This is another highly embarrassing incident for the fight organisation.
Silva and Diaz were both making comebacks and are two of the most popular fighters in the UFC fight organisation.
Silva, who defeated Diaz over five rounds in the headline event in UFC183 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night, tested positive for two PEDS in out-of-competition testing by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on January 9.
The fight took place on Jan 31, and it begs the question as to why the NSAC has a process that is so slow it takes 26 days to make this public, or inform the UFC.
In Silva's case, the steroids drostanolone and androstane were found after blood and urine tests made by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which follows its protocol from WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency.
This revelation, as fans and the fight organisation celebrated the comeback of Silva after he had broken his tibia and fibula in a fight with the UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman 13 months ago, will taint the Brazilian's legacy.
Diaz tested positive for marijuana metabolites. The Californian is openly a user of marijuana, but the use of the drug is banned in fight sports.
Silva-Diaz is likely to be commuted to a 'no contest'.
The UFC put out the following statements on Tuesday evening in the United States, with hearings in front of NSAC expected to follow.
On Silva: “On Feb 3, 2015, the UFC organisation was notified by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that Anderson Silva tested positive for Drostanolone metabolites on his Jan. 9 out of competition drug test. UFC’s understanding is that further testing will be conducted by the Commission to confirm these preliminary results.
“Anderson Silva has been an amazing champion and a true ambassador of the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC, in Brazil as well as around the world. UFC is disappointed to learn of these initial results.
"The UFC has a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents by its athletes."
On Diaz: "The UFC has been notified by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that Nick Diaz has tested positive for marijuana metabolites following his fight with Anderson Silva at UFC 183 on Jan 31 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"The UFC has a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents by our athletes. As a result of his positive test, Diaz has been informed that he has violated the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and Promotional Agreement with Zuffa, LLC. The UFC organisation will fully respect the Commission’s decision relating to Diaz at a hearing set for Feb 17."
Out-of-competition testing will help to eradicate doping. But the penalties need to be severe. We have seen some great athletes in the UFC testing positive for banned substances over the last few years.
The list of high-profile fighters who have tested positive for banned substances:
Chael Sonnen, retired
Chris Leben, retired
Denis Hallman, retired
Antonio Silva, active
Josh Barnett, active
Nate Marquardt, active
Dennis Siver, active
Piotr Hallman, active
Ali Bagautinov, active
Anderson Silva, active
The question is when will this stop and how can fighters be stopped by the penalties?
The promoter wants his/her best fighters in action. The fans want to see the best fighters in action. But positive tests leave a cynical taste, and it tarnishes the development of MMA as a sport. And it is still developing.
Blood passports may be the only answer going forward. There was a time when cycling suffered from drugs cheats. The administrators fought hard to eradicate it. It's now time for the authorities who test MMA fighters, and for fight organisations like the UFC to implement this with stricter policies on bans. Doping is cheating.
Silva and Diaz have not commented.