The UFC Will No Longer Punish Athletes For Marijuana Use

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The UFC has made a significant announcement regarding its athletes and the use of cannabis.

The company teamed up with USADA today to make an official statement regarding changes in their anti-doping policy regarding cannabis:

“Positive tests over the threshold and decision limit for carboxy-THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, will no longer be considered a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, unless additional evidence exists that an athlete used it intentionally for performance-enhancing purposes. All other ‘phyto’ cannabinoids (those derived naturally from the cannabis plant) are no longer prohibited substances under the Policy.”

UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky has stated that competing while under the influence of marijuana will not be allowed, but that urine tests will not be what determines whether or not an athlete is allowed to fight.

“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. 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. 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,” he said in the statement.

To be clear, athletes may still be barred from fighting if their marijuana use doesn’t comply with local athletic commission rules. But the UFC hopes to work with these organizations to promote change and allow athletes to use cannabis recreationally and for medicinal purposes.

Multiple UFC fighters have been sanctioned for cannabis-related violations of anti-doping policies, most recently including Niko Price. UFC veteran Elias Theodorou made history last year as the first professional athlete to receive a Therapeutic Use Exemption for cannabis.


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