UFC anti-doping policy changes stance on cannabis
ABU DHABI – The UFC’s anti-doping policy will no longer punish athletes for positive tests for carboxy-THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
UFC and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials on Thursday announced significant modifications “in the handling of cannabis and its naturally occurring cannabinoid compounds.”
In short, positive tests for carboxy-THC, regardless of levels, will no longer be considered violations of the policy “unless additional evidence exists that an athlete used it intentionally for performance-enhancing purposes.”
“While we want to continue to prevent athletes from competing under the influence of cannabis, we have learned that blood and/or urine levels of carboxy-THC have a little-to-no scientific correlation to impairment,” UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky said in a statement. “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 blood or urine, sometimes long after the ingestion.”
“The bottom line is that in regards to cannabis, 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”Novitzky
Novitzky said athletes will still not be allowed to compete under the influence of cannabis, but that the UFC and USADA will rely on visual evidence of impairment and cognitive-behavioral tests to make such determinations rather than any sort of blood level detection, which can often indicate usage well outside of the competition window.