Diaz cleared to fight at UFC 244 despite drug test

MMA news

LAS VEGAS — Nate Diaz is eligible to compete against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244 on Nov. 2 in New York. Period.

“The fight is ON!!!,” UFC president Dana White tweeted on Friday. “I 100 percent knew Nate wasn’t taking anything to cheat.”

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has ruled Diaz, who is scheduled to headline UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden next weekend, has not committed an anti-doping violation, despite an atypical finding in an out-of-competition test taken in October. Diaz’s test showed the presence of Ligandrol, a banned selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM).

According to the UFC, Diaz’s levels of Ligandrol, a banned substance also known as LGD-4033 that stimulates muscle growth, was detected at a “double picogram/mL” level. USADA traced the substance to a legal supplement Diaz ingested, which was categorized as an organic, vegan, plant-based daily multivitamin.

“Mr. Diaz has not committed an anti-doping policy violation, has not been provisionally suspended and is not subject to any sanctions,” a UFC statement said. “Additionally, UFC has been informed by independent experts who have determined that there is unequivocally no appreciable performance enhancing or therapeutic benefit from the significantly limited amount of LGD-4033 that may be present in his system, which is roughly 10,000 times lower than one LGD-4033 therapeutic dose.

Diaz announced on social media on Thursday he was “not gonna make it” to UFC 244 because of elevated levels of a banned substance caused by a contaminated supplement. On Friday, he posted on Twitter he wanted the UFC and president Dana White to “Clear my name or I ain’t doin s—.” Diaz has since deleted the post.

According to the UFC, USADA set a threshold on the banned substance Ligandrolin in late August, after a rash of contaminated supplement cases involving SARM positives with its athletes. That decision occurred more than one month before Diaz’s atypical finding.

The threshold is set at 100 picograms/mL, which Diaz tested well below. Numerous athletic commissions, however, who also hold jurisdiction over mixed martial arts contests, have not yet set the same threshold. The New York State Athletic Commission, for instance, still has the right to hold a hearing on Diaz’s case, though Campbell said they have not indicated they intend to do so.

“New York has been aware of everything in real time, as we’ve gotten it updated,” said UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell. “We were informed of the contaminated substance directly linked to Nate Diaz’s positive, and they were notified. Based on the info they have in front of them, it’s been conveyed to me there is a high degree of comfort that Nate in no way was seeking a performance-enhancing advantage.”

The UFC’s anti-doping program has seen a rash of cases linked to contaminated supplements, since it was implemented in the summer of 2015. According to UFC senior vice president of athlete performance, USADA has issued slightly less than 100 sanctions since summer 2015 and in the “ballpark of 30 to 40 percent” have been ultimately linked to contaminated supplements.

Diaz’s case is most similar to one involving UFC welterweight Neil Magny. Magny tested positive for a low level of LGD-4033 and announced the news himself on social media in May. Because only trace amounts were found and the belief is that Magny ingested the substance from a tainted supplement, USADA cleared him to fight last month. Unlike Diaz, Magny was unable to produce the specific supplement that was contaminated.

Diaz’s team was able to send supplements to USADA for testing at the World Anti-Doping Agency-certified Sports Medicine Research & Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) in Salt Lake City, sources said. The supplements were tested Thursday night and one tested positive for LGD-4033, the prohibited substance in question.

Diaz (20-11) is one of the biggest stars in the sport. He is scheduled to face Masvidal (34-13) for the unprecedented “BMF” title in the main event of UFC 244.

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