Positive THC tests are no longer grounds for a violation under the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s anti-doping policy, “unless additional evidence exists that an athlete used it intentionally for performance-enhancing purposes,” the company announced on Thursday.
Jeff Novitzky, UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance, said that while league officials “want to continue to prevent athletes from competing under the influence” of cannabis, they “have learned that urinary levels of carboxy-THC are highly variable after out-of-competition use and have poor scientific correlation to in-competition impairment.”
“THC is fat soluble, meaning that once ingested, it is stored in fatty tissues and organs in the body and can be released back into the circulation, and consequently carboxy-THC appears in the urine, sometimes long after ingestion. It is therefore not an ideal marker in athletes to indicate in-competition impairment.” – Novitzky in a press release
“The bottom line is that in regard to marijuana, we care about what an athlete consumed the day of a fight, not days or weeks before a fight, which has often been the case in our historic positive THC cases,” Novitzky added. “UFC Athletes will still be subject to marijuana rules under various Athletic Commission regulations, but we hope this is a start to a broader discussion and changes on this issue with that group.”
The changes also remove all other naturally-occurring cannabinoids from the anti-doping list, such as CBD. The UFC said such cannabinoids “are often found in various CBD products used widely by UFC athletes, and no evidence exists that they would provide any significant performance advantage, the laboratories do not test for these compounds, nor have any health and safety consequences for competing UFC athletes.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its prohibited substance list in 2018.
The UFC has a partnership with Aurora Cannabis for clinical trials to study the efficacy of CBD on wound care, recovery, injury, pain, and inflammation.
Nate Diaz, a UFC fighter, has come under fire in the past for his, very public, cannabis use including a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation into his use of a CBD vape pen during a press conference in 2016. Diaz has been suspended three times for cannabis use.
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