Last week, Nick Diaz, a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter was suspended for five years for testing positive for cannabis. The suspension came after a loss to Anderson Silva in January. The long suspension has drawn criticism from the cannabis industry as well as other MMA fighters, especially considering that Silva only received a year suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The disparity in punishments for these two substance-use infractions sends a clear message: cannabis is more detrimental to the sport than PEDs.
The current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion weighed in on the Diaz suspension, while at a UFC 193 Press Conference in Melbourne, Australia this week. Ronda ‘Rowdy’ Rousey stepped up to defend her good friend, Diaz, against an unfair drug testing policy. A reporter asked about her past, when she discussed the mistreatment of U.S. Olympians which she said “pales in comparison” to the treatment of MMA fighters.
“I’m against them testing for weed at all. It’s not a performance-enhancing drug. It has nothing to do with athletic competition. It’s only tested for political reasons,” Rousey said.
Rousey’s comments come after a year of debate surrounding the residual effects of repeated head trauma in the NFL and other contact sports. Cannabis, which has been said to have benefits as a neuroprotectant, is still a banned substance in most professional athletic organizations.
It’s only a matter of time before professional athletes have the same right to consume cannabis as they do to drink a beer, so it remains a surprise that a seemingly more progressive sport like MMA embraces an antiquated drug testing policy.