Nate Diaz fought the system and won. That’s more than most fighters can say, especially when it comes to the machine that is Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Diaz was informed by USADA of a failed drug test back on Thursday and immediately began to profess his innocence, taking himself off the upcoming UFC 244 PPV card in New York City in the process. Over the course of the next two days the MMA world patiently waited as UFC and USADA scrambled to explain why Diaz was popping for trace amounts of a banned substance called “SARM.” In the end, Diaz was cleared of any wrongdoing by USADA and granted permission to fight Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244 next weekend for the “BMF” belt.
It’s been a harrowing week for Diaz to say the least, and one that UFC’s Chief Business Officer, Hunter Campbell, described as a “nightmare scenario” of what can go wrong with USADA’s system. After all, Diaz has vocalized his hatred for PED users in the past and has never done anything close to cheating in his entire MMA career.
“I’m going to get a call that Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, these guys that I know because I know them in and out would never in a million years do this,” Campbell said Friday night (h/t MMAJunkie). “They are going to find themselves (in this situation), they’re going to be branded a cheater and it will not only impact their career, but their legacy. That is the single worst thing in my opinion that you could do to somebody, and particularly as a fighter in this profession.”
Diaz, who told UFC president Dana White to clear his name or he’s not competing at UFC 244, ended up testing positive due to an organic, vegan, plant-based multivitamin that contained LGD-4033, or Ligandrol, a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) which builds lean muscle mass. According to UFC VP of Athlete Health and Performance, Jeff Novtizky, Diaz would have had to consume 10,000 capsules of the multivitamin to gain a competitive advantage inside of the cage.
“This isn’t guesswork,” Novitzky said. “There’s nothing guesswork about the Nate Diaz case. It is as rock solid evidence as I’ve ever seen in the history of my anti-doping career when it comes to a contaminant. To say he did anything wrong, you’d have to say, ‘You did something wrong by choosing a plant-based, vegan, organic multivitamin that said on the label they were lab tested.’ Somebody can say he did something wrong on that? It’s a shame if they would. The guy did nothing wrong.”
In the end, UFC and USADA worked this case to the bone in order to clear the name of one of the cleanest fighters in the sport. It obviously wasn’t an ideal situation to handle just one week away from UFC 244’s main event, but Diaz ended up coming out on top and proving yet again why he’s the reigning “BMF” champ.
“What was important to Nate, immediately, before anything he put out there or anything he commented, as it was conveyed to us, was that he be cleared,” Campbell said. “That was the single most important thing for Nate. And I think what was telling in the statement that he put out, animated as it was, as he usually is, it highlights exactly, what I think the evolution of the anti-doping world is starting to show, Nate’s comment was ‘I don’t cheat, I only take plant-based vegan,’ … what he basically had contaminated was exactly what he believed it was. A plant-based, vegan, organic multivitamin. Period. End of discussion.”
“Your legacy is what you do this for at the end of the day,” Campbell added. “The money is great and everything else is great, but you do this for your legacy and I don’t want us to ever be a part of anything that negatively affects someone’s legacy who did something unintentionally who did nothing wrong. Nate did nothing wrong. Nate is not a cheater. It’s literally that simple.”
Diaz will now have the green light to step inside of the cage next weekend in New York City and try to end the surging ascension of Masvidal. The Stockton native is coming off one of his best performances to date with a recent decision win over former UFC champion Anthony Pettis so fans should expect the best, and cleanest, Nate Diaz they’ve ever seen.
Stick with Mania for more reaction on Diaz’s win over USADA.