MICROPOST: The Nevada State Athletic Commission (Part 1)

The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) is a government body overseeing amateur and professional combat sports in…Nevada. All fighters and fight promoters must go through the NSAC to do any business in the state. They are also the de-facto standard in combat sports regulation that all other states try to emulate. Being a taxpayer funded organization, the NSAC hearings are open to the public for transparency purposes. At these meetings, the agenda ranges from the issuing of individual fight licenses, the suspension or reinstatement of flagged fighters and various other things. My mouth waters in anticipation whenever a noteworthy case is tabled. These hearings are a constant train wreck, never failing to deliver head-shaking moments and absolute absurdity, almost always coming from the petulant and power-mad NSAC committee. I always viewed them as a source of comedy, never to be taken seriously. That is until this week, where the proceedings became very sinister and very uncomfortable.

A couple of days ago, the case of Nick Diaz, a UFC fighter and a known figure in mixed martial arts (MMA), was on the agenda. He was brought in for questioning regarding a third positive drug test for marijuana metabolites in his system. Just for clarification, the NSAC recently amended their guidelines to give more severe punishment for performance enhancing drug use. As of this writing, they have not gone into effect. As Diaz allegedly failed his test January 31st, 2015, he was subject to the older guidelines.

Under the NSAC’s own current rules, he faced a maximum of two years of punishment for this Tier 1 offence (Tier 1 being the least dangerous of banned substances a fighter is forbidden to use. By comparison, anabolic steroids are a Tier 4 offence.) He was instead assessed an unprecedented five year suspension (From fighting professionally) and a fine of $165,000. All without 100% conclusive proof (Two of his three drug tests came back negative) and all because Diaz and his lawyers put on a very, very sound defence and didn’t show the respect the NSAC felt they were entitled to. Nothing short of obeisance and begging for their forgiveness will satisfy this committee. To do otherwise is career suicide.

The MMA community reacted immediately with disgust and bafflement, as they should have. Their anger is not about the absurdity of marijuana being labeled a performance enhancing drug. The uproar to this case is about corrupt officials doing whatever they please in the most demeaning way possible and the abuse of power by bureaucrats, something everyone, fight fan or not, can understand and agree with. No one likes dishonest officials, much less openly tyrannical ones like the NSAC committee.

The NSAC has shown time and time again (On public record no less) that they don’t follow their own guidelines, have a sickening amount of self importance, lack professionalism and unabashedly use a vindictive, scorched earth approach towards anyone who dares make them look incompetent, as if they weren’t already doing that themselves. They have no accountability whatsoever except to their governor and by extension, Nevada state taxpayers, who as a whole, probably have little care for the plight of a pot-smoking prize fighter.

Even the UFC and its mercurial president Dana White have no real comment or opinion on the events of this past Monday, showing how much power the corrupt NSAC wields.

MMA analyst Luke Thomas (Without question, one of the best writers in combat sports media) said it best in an interview with 120 Sports:

This has to be the most unethical thing I think I have ever seen, certainly from any kind of government body related to regulation, far and away. They’re trying to steal his career from him, certainly the end of it. Without justification, absolute and total lunacy. Insanity. And frankly, they owe Nick Diaz not only an apology but anything short of them tendering their own resignation, I find to be not acceptable. They are not fit to govern, they are not fit to run the commission and they are certainly not fit to oversee combat sports in the state of Nevada. The state of Nevada deserves better, the governor deserves better. The taxpayers deserve better and certainly all combat athletes deserve better.

Even at face value, Nick Diaz is hardly the most sympathetic figure and is a very flawed individual. But he’s still a human being, almost painfully so. For the NSAC to treat him, in a professional setting, like subhuman garbage is immoral and outright disgusting. All to achieve their warped brand of personal justice. It’s a shame Nevada has such a dubious regulatory body presiding over the health, well-being and careers of others. I know I’m risking whininess by discussing a topical issue on a fashion blog, but surely those who abuse their power and authority to this degree deserve to be put to task in any way, shape or form.

You can watch the NSAC hearing below. It’s three hours and a half hours long and so riveting I watched the whole affair live (I know how sad this sounds…I really do.)