When Pat Healy's test came out positive for marijuana metabolites yesterday, it had repercussions that reverberated not just to him personally as a fighter, but everyone around him.
His gym, Sports Lab based out of Portland, Oregon, took a hit as well. His trainer Phil Claud, who has been working with professional and amateur athletes for 25 years now, had his first athlete ever test positive for anything illegal.
Claud relayed his initial thoughts exclusively to MMAmania.com.
"I've had to think a lot about the situation. It's very disappointing to me on a personal level. I have a very strict policy against testing positive. I've been coaching for 25 years and I've never had an athlete at any level test positive. For me, this is a big deal on a personal and intellectual level and I've done a lot of soul-searching, talked to the other coaches at Sports Lab about the ramifications. It puts our credibility in question."
But what matters most to Claud is that he has his athlete's back. Healy made a huge mistake which will all but certainly result in his incredible victory over Jim Miller at UFC on Fox 7 last month (April 27, 2013) being overturned. To him, his fighter is about to go through enough already. No need to make it worse for him.
"At the end of the day, I'm making a judgement call on the character of Pat and I believe in Pat Healy. I've spent a lot of time with him and I believe this is outside his norm and this is an unfortunate accident. I want to be very clear and come out publicly there I'm here to support Pat and we'll do everything to fight to get through this. We want to stay in the UFC, still want to fight the best guys in the world. I hope the public support and public opinion is that we're not dirty. Pat made a social mistake. We beat Jim Miller fair and square and Pat is still one of the best fighters in the world. Myself, the coaches and his teammates are going to stand by him and help him get through this."
Many argue that marijuana shouldn't even be illegal, at least not with the current testing protocol, which punishes anyone who's toked up within a month, when the actual effects of the use has likely worn off for weeks. The window where you can test positive for weed is significantly larger than that of more serious things like steroids.
But to Claud, a positive test is bad, no matter what it's for.
"For me, I have a no tolerance policy. For me, testing positive regardless of what it is, you tested positive. It's not a hidden thing what they're testing for. I'm a very black and white type of guy. Competing at the level we do is an unbelievable privilege and it needs to be respective. Whether you agree with some of the technicalities or the gray areas, we have a right and obligation to stay within those boundaries to do what we do for a living. I don't care if it's marijuana or what it is. It's still a positive test. The commission is likely turning the win over to a no contest and we're under a 90 day suspension. These are real consequences to real life. My comment on the whole marijuana issue is, until it's not illegal, it's illegal and you have to deal with that."
Healy took a big hit. On top of the win potentially being overturned, he's going to miss out on a monstrous $130,000 payday based on the two Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night-winning bonuses he was initially awarded as UFC holds onto the checks until the drug test results come back.
His team is willing to do anything to make it right again.
"We won Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night and financially, this is going to be a disaster for Pat. We're open to do what we need to do and abide by the consequences of our actions here. If that's what needs to happen to get back to fighting in the UFC and fighting the best fighters in the world, it's a no-brainer. Pat has committed 100 percent to doing what he needs to do. A drug program, community service, whatever is necessary, we're committed to doing that."
Lastly, Claud appealed to the fans, asking for their support as Healy deals with the situation.
"We're asking for the support of the fans. At the end of the day, we want to move past this and get back to putting on great fights and great shows because that's what we're all about."