Fighters on the UFC on ESPN 3 card no longer need to fret about recent marijuana or CBD use.
The Florida State Boxing Commission is immediately changing a zero-tolerance policy on cannabinoids to reflect international standards before the April 27 event in Sunrise, Fla., UFC VP of Athlete Performance Jeff Novitzky today told MMA Junkie.
Patrick R. Fargason, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the FSBC, declined to confirm the change but said the commission meets April 4 to discuss anti-doping policies and will announce any policy changes that come out of the meeting.
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s policy allows up to 150 mg/nL of cannabinoids in an athlete’s system before a violation is registered, and only during the in-competition window of testing. The UFC’s drug testing program, administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Policy, follows the same guideline. Under the FSBC’s current policy, all cannabinoids are prohibited in-competition.
This past Friday, the FSBC pulled Titan FC flyweight champ Juan Puerta off Titan FC just minutes before his title defense for a positive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) test. He currently is under an indefinite suspension pending a hearing into his positive test.
Novitzky spoke to Titan chief Lex McMahon about the situation and subsequently sent out a notice to UFC fighters advising them of Florida’s zero-tolerance policy.
But as it turned out, no extra caution will be needed. Novitzky said UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner on Wednesday contacted FSBC Executive Director Patrick Cunningham, who told him the cannabinoid policy will be changed to reflect international standards.
“You have to give them credit for getting up to the world standard and being able to implement that on the fly,” Novitzky said. “It is very good news, and I’m very happy to see that reasonable decision.”
The UFC executive said several commissions still have a zero-tolerance policy on cannabinoids and would like to see them make the same change.
“We’d love everybody to come to the same rules so there will be the same level of consistency for our fighters.”
Puerta told MMAFighting.com he ingested a CBD gummies – which he assumed also contained THC – on Monday and Tuesday of fight week. He said he was tested one hour prior to his bout, and the results came back quickly.
“It’s not like I’m taking performance-enhancing drugs,” he said. “Some people just have a lot of anxiety. I have a lot of anxiety before my fights. Bottom line, you’re getting locked in a cage with somebody who is trying to kill you or rip your head off. I just wanted to relax Monday and Tuesday while I’m cutting weight after I just finished a grueling, seven-week camp.”
Just prior to the Puerta’s scheduled fight, McMahon stepped into the cage to announce the last-minute cancelation. He told the crowd Puerta had been “disqualified” by the commission and apologized to fans.
It’s unclear whether or not the announced shift will have an effect on Puerta’s case. McMahon said the commission is testing the champ’s “B” sample. He said the promotion will wait to see what the commission does before deciding the future of the flyweight division.
A suspension of six months or less would likely result in Puerta keeping the Titan flyweight title, McMahon said. Anything longer, and he would be stripped.
“The kid just had the worst day of his life, professionally,” McMahon said. “Did he make a massive mistake? 100 percent. I’m certainly not happy about it. But I’m also of the opinion that he’s a good dude, has been a good champion for us, and I’m going to give him the opportunity to see what happens.
“I think he’s entitled to due process, so we’re going to let it play out, and once we have all the information, we’ll make a decision.”
Yoel Romero (13-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) meets Ronaldo Souza (26-6 MMA, 9-3 UFC) in a headlining rematch at UFC on ESPN 3. The night’s main card and prelims air on ESPN following early prelims on ESPN+.
Story By: Steven Marrocco