This article originally appeared at Rolling Stone.
As if Nate Diaz's recent loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 202 in Las Vegas and McGregor's gleeful, "Surprise, surprise, motherfucker!” taunt wasn't brutal enough, now Diaz is under fire for hitting a cannabidiol-loaded vape pen during the post-fight press conference. Cannabidiol, a weed extract oil more commonly known as CBD, doesn't contain THC or result in psychotropic effects. Regardless, the cannabinoid, as well as marijuana and cannabinoids in general, still made the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances.
"It helps with the healing process and inflammation, stuff like that," Diaz, face purple and shiny from sustaining serious wallops, said about his toking. "So you want to get these for before and after the fights, training. It'll make your life a better place."
Weird grammar aside, Diaz was just in the post-fight management zone. His entire head was puffed up and angry-looking; sucking on a vape here and there while fielding press questions seems par for the course. The USADA, however, may disagree.
The USADA's site explains: "The use of prohibited substances in sport, without an approved Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE), may lead to an anti-doping rule violation and sanction." And since the press conference during which Diaz soothed his likely throbbing face by sipping his pot pen happened within six hours of the match, the use is officially considered to have happened "during competition."
"I can confirm that USADA is aware of the situation and is currently gathering information in order to determine the next appropriate steps," a USADA spokesperson said, according to Complex.
Besides the whole "he just finished getting his ass kicked in a 25-minute beat-'em-up tournament and kinda deserves immediate relief" thing, a 2009 study reveals CBD as an auspicious contender for therapeutic use in neurodegenerative disorders, according to the NCBI. Additionally, professional research has found a strong correlation with marijuana use and pain relief — a conclusion identical to countless non-official studies conducted in dorm rooms as well as my home, regularly. If hit for using a banned substance during competition, Diaz won't simply risk a slap on the wrist or losing any remaining hope of scoring Elijah Wood as a wild fan. If hit, the furthest stretch of punishment would land Diaz a one-year suspension from the MMA.
In his 12-year MMA tenure, Diaz has not once served a full suspension. It's ridiculous his method of coping with injuries sustained from "The Notorious" could jeopardize his future.
For years researchers have been on the hunt for the "breaking point" in which repeated blows to the head could mean lasting, potentially serious brain damage for boxers and other full-contact athletes. Although there hasn't been hugely conclusive evidence when that point happens, another study testing CBDs on mice show the cannabinoid CBD can limit brain damage resulting from head injuries. Considering Saturday’s fight entailed 330 significant strikes landed across five rounds — the second greatest combined tally ever in a UFC fight — such brain-preserving insurance probably wouldn't hurt Diaz. Especially in a state like Nevada, with relatively lax marijuana laws, where medical marijuana is legal. (Diaz is currently stationed in Stockton, California, another state with legalized medical marijuana.)
This doesn’t mark the first tango with a Diaz and the USADA. Most recently, the Nevada Athletic Commission suspended his brother Nick last fall after he tested positive on one out three tests for marijuana metabolites after a decision loss the January before. Although the original plan touted a five-year sentence and fine, after realizing how bogus the initial claim was, the NDA slashed the punishment to 18 months and a smaller fee. "It's not like I purposely failed my test, but I purposely did not give a shit," Nick told High Times. "I'm more focused on giving more of a shit about the fight."
In the meantime, Nate Diaz seems most concerned with getting a rematch on the books with McGregor, bumping their whole beef to a trilogy of competitions.
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