Henry Cejudo AP/Press Association Images
Making a stand

UFC star and Olympic gold medalist shows Diaz support by refusing to fight in Nevada

Nick Diaz has been banned for five years for marijuana use.

SUPPORT IS GROWING for Nick Diaz after the notorious UFC fighter was hit with a hefty ban earlier this week.

Diaz was suspended for five years by the Nevada Athletic Commission, following a failed drug test in January as a result of marijuana use.

It’s the third time Diaz has been found guilty of the same offence, but there’s been widespread criticism of the severity of the ban from across the MMA community.

Many UFC stars have taken to social media to show their support for their fellow athlete, but one fighter has decided to take things a step further.

Undefeated UFC flyweight Henry Cejudo, who won an Olympic gold medal in freestyle wrestling for the USA in 2008, is now refusing to compete in the state of Nevada in protest at the NAC’s decision.

Cejudo, who fights Jussier Da Silva in Mexico on 21 November, expressed his feelings in a letter to today, which was written by his manager, Bill McFarlane:

“I am absolutely appalled at how the NAC handled the Nick Diaz matter. The issue here is not the magnitude of the penalties assessed to Nick Diaz, it is the process, or lack thereof, in determining Nick Diaz’s guilt or innocence. Significant discrepancies existed between the test samples, and the NAC has an absolute obligation to resolve those discrepancies before the penalty phase of the disciplinary hearing was heard. What the NAC did was ignore due process and go straight to the penalty phase.

“Forget the facts and existence of evidence, let’s get down to the business of punishment. For the NAC to ignore the negative test results from Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratories (SMRTL), a WADA-approved testing facility specializing in the detection of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), in favor of a “questionable” result from a non-approved and non-specialized PED facility is simply astonishing. For Chairman Aguilar to also state, “I think we do have a positive test today,” is an appalling disregard of the full and careful consideration of all the facts.

UFC on Fox Mixed Martial Arts Nick Diaz AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

“I believe it is an abuse of power under the color of authority, and a direct affront to the very concept and practice of due process. For NAC to further justify their decision based on the assertion that they don’t have the budget to use a WADA-approved testing facility is like saying, justice and due process only applies if it comes at a deep discount and is affordable. The NAC decision does not appear to be based on fact or evidence, but on emotional arrogance.

“I sincerely hope that the UFC enters the dialogue on this issue. If not publicly, then privately. It is very unfortunate, but I feel it’s prudent to let the UFC know that Henry Cejudo will not be fighting in Nevada. I simply have no confidence that the NAC can manage a fair and credible testing process, or will act in a fair and unbiased manner.

“Henry has been tested well over a hundred times under the USOC/USADA program and never had a positive test result. That is because he has never used a banned substance, but also because, in each and every case, the testing was done by competent and unbiased personnel under a credible program utilizing WADA accredited labs.

YE Beijing Olympics Wrestling Men Henry Cejudo celebrates after winning gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

“I personally applauded the UFC for imposition of their anti-doping policy, as it comes with the legacy and credibility of USADA, as well as appropriate protocols and processes to ensure fair and credible testing. The opposite appears true with respect to the NAC. Until the NAC testing process can be independently reviewed, its findings made public, and corrective action taken, I personally do not believe it is a safe or credible place to conduct business. That includes a review of the recent actions and competencies of Commission members.

“Others may want to roll the dice in Nevada, but I for one do not feel the NAC is capable of conducting itself in a manner consistent with their mission statement, appropriate enforcement of existing regulations, conducting business in a fair and unbiased manner, or the exercise of due process in their enforcement actions.”

Should other fighters opt to follow Cejudo’s lead, it could cause a major headache for the UFC, who have already held six events in Nevada this year, with three more to come — including UFC 194 on 12 December, which will be headlined by the meeting of Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo.

In his exclusive column here on The42, McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh said Nick Diaz only has himself to blame for his lengthy suspension.

John Kavanagh: ‘If Conor’s only motivation was money he’d no longer be fighting’

‘I’m against them testing for weed’ – Ronda Rousey incensed over Nick Diaz ban

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