March 27, 2008
by Josh Gross (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Nick Diaz (Pictures) will not fight Saturday night in San Jose, Calif., nor will he collect the $50,000 purse he was set to receive for his bout against South Korea's Jae Suk Lim (Pictures).
California State Athletic Commission executive officer Armando Garcia made that determination Wednesday.
Why? It depends on whom you ask.
"He did not turn in his medical information in time for the fight," said Garcia, confirming an MMAWeekly report that Diaz was removed from the Showtime-televised card. "They were just turned in today."
Late Wednesday evening, however, EliteXC President Gary Shaw, who promotes Diaz, disputed Garcia's account.
"He never mentioned anything about late medicals," said Shaw. "And if there were late medicals it wasn't because of Nick Diaz and it wasn't because of EliteXC."
The issue, as described to him by Garcia, said Shaw, was Diaz's prescription for medical marijuana, which is legal in California based on the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
"He's got a medical marijuana card," confirmed Diaz's manager Cesar Gracie (Pictures), who mentioned Attention Deficit Disorder as the cause for the prescription.
"Nick is a naturalist by heart," said Gracie. "He thinks Ritalin is an amphetamine. He thinks that's really bad for you. People with ADD are kind of hyper, so he has trouble sleeping. He got the medical marijuana card and he takes his pot to go to sleep and be more focused. It's completely legal in California. Voters voted it in. The commission is actually supposed to obey that, so this will probably open up a legal case. If it was something small, OK, f---- it, whatever. But if they're not even going to allow him to test clean, that doesn't make sense. That's overstepping their boundaries."
Completing paperwork on March 10 in the Los Angeles offices of Dr. Richard Gluckman -- in an effort to renew his license to fight in California, Diaz underwent a battery of tests including MRI, EKG, ophthalmological, neurological, bloodwork for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and a comprehensive physical -- the 24-year-old from Stockton, Calif., noted his use of medical marijuana.
Not the first mixed martial artist to list marijuana as prescribed medication on CSAC forms, Diaz included the information, said Gracie, in case a positive test arose out of the CSAC's strict anti-doping regulations, which began almost one year ago. (Earlier this month, the California commission fined and suspended Toby Grear (Pictures), who cited the use of Marinol based on a medical marijuana prescription.)
Two and a half weeks later, Garcia said he first learned of Diaz's medical marijuana usage. As with any mention of prescribed medication taken by fighters applying for a license, Garcia said an investigation was required to determine the reason for the prescription.
"If you're a fighter and you know you're going to fight in a state that has a commission and they test for drugs -- they have a doping program -- you have to tell them way ahead of time, not three days before the weigh-in or the fight," Garcia said. "You have to give the commission the opportunity to evaluate your ailment and the reason you were prescribed a certain drug. And if you don't do that, you're risking not fighting."
Shaw, who said the responsibility for filing medicals to Sacramento rested with Dr. Gluckman's office, called Diaz's acknowledgment of marijuana usage "entrapment."
"He does what you ask him, and you punish him?" said a puzzled Shaw. "It's like if you have a Ferrari and a police officer gives you a speeding ticket before you turn the key.
"It wasn't about lateness because I say you definitely can't pull him off if your own doctor sent it in. We have guys getting licensed today, so you know it's an outright lie."
Garcia declined to comment on Shaw's recollection of their conversation.
Scheduled to appear on a televised bout on the undercard of Frank Shamrock (Pictures)'s tilt with Cung Le (Pictures), Diaz's ouster from the HP Pavilion-housed event forced EliteXC to put together a bout between Lim and Drew Fickett (Pictures), who was left without an opponent when Jake Shields (Pictures) dropped out Tuesday because of a back injury. (The winner between Fickett and Lim will fight Shields for the vacant EliteXC 170-pound title.)
Diaz should return to action on June 14 in Hawaii, said EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw.
The brash 160-pounder is no stranger to mixing marijuana and MMA. In March of last year the Nevada State Athletic Commission suspended, fined and stripped Diaz of his win over Takanori Gomi (Pictures) after testing positive for THC levels more than three times the accepted limit.