ATHLETES UNDER THE UFC WOULD NO LONGER BE PENALIZED FOR MARIJUANA USE IN NEW CHANGES MADE TO THE UFC’s ANTI-DOPING POLICY.
The UFC has effected changes to its anti-doping policy to accommodate the use of marijuana by its athletes.
According to the UFC’s senior vice president of athlete health and performance, Jeff Novitzky, the elite mixed martial arts promotion would no longer penalize athletes in most cases who use marijuana days before a fight.
The new changes to the rules were effected in response to advocacy by the fighters seeking a relaxation of the anti-doping policy as they relate to marijuana.
They had argued that most fighters only use marijuana for pain management and relaxation, and not for performance enhancement. They had also argued that the use of marijuana for pain management as against other addictive pain medications was a better alternative in the long term.
In his statement, Novitzky said, “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.”
Furthermore, USADA CEO Travis Tygart in another statement said, “The goal of the UFC anti-doping program is to protect the rights of clean athletes by deterring intentional cheaters and holding those who choose to dope accountable in a fair and effective way,” speaking on the changes to the rules, he said, “These amended rules are aimed at this, and to continue our focus on preventing intentional cheating and not to unnecessarily punish athletes for behavior that does not impact the fairness or safety of competition.”
In sports, the recreational use of marijuana has been a feisty topic with both sides of the argument affirming their right.
While the steps taken by the UFC is commendable, the promotion had also stated that the new rules do not in any way invalidate the anti-doping policies of the various state athletic commissions.
Marijuana Use in the UFC
Recreational marijuana has had a long history in the UFC. Athletes in the UFC have been known to use marijuana for whatever purpose long before the ban came into effect in 2015.
For a sport that has glamorized the use of steroids and testosterone replacement therapy, the recreational use of marijuana wasn’t considered a bother until 2015 when the promotion in conjunction with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency produced a comprehensive anti-doping program for the sport. In the policy, much of its rule banned performance enhancement drugs, steroids, and the use of psychotropic substances such as marijuana.
However, despite the ban, marijuana and CBD products continued to play a prominent role in many MMA fighters’ training and financial backing. Many fighters had sponsorships from CBD businesses, while others launched CBD-related business ventures.
With the new rule in effect, many of the athletes can now breathe easy unlike before when much of their actions in relation to marijuana were considered infractions and attracted some fine.
But, it is important to note that while the promotion would not penalize athletes for marijuana use, it would not allow fighters to compete while under the influence of cannabinoids.