One of the top trending hashtags on Twitter is #FreeNickDiaz, because Diaz’s MMA career was virtually ended by the Nevada Athletic Commission, who issued a five-year ban on him for a third marijuana-related offense in the state in eight years. Fan and fighter support for the UFC star has been overwhelming, particularly given the strong case presented by Diaz’s attorney, Lucas Middlebrook, who is planning an appeal of the suspension. (Via ESPN)
“I think it was a completely arbitrary and capricious decision,” Middlebrook said. “You heard my opening statement. Based on the facts, if they were to make such a decision, it would be ripe for judicial review. This was a kangaroo court and you heard the commission: their decision wasn’t based on fact. It wasn’t based on evidence.
“One commissioner said, ‘Your attorneys were very persuasive, but you don’t respect us. So here’s a five-year ban.’ “
Believe it or not, commissioner Pat Lundvall was seeking a lifetime ban for Diaz, even though his only punished infractions in the state are for marijuana, and Nevada’s own rules state that a lifetime ban wouldn’t be in play until a 4th offense. NAC chairman Francisco Aguilar had this to say on the issue:
“This is not just a marijuana issue,” Aguilar said. “This is an issue of marijuana, a lack of being forthright, a lack of cooperation to make the sport better, a disregard for rules — it hurts other athletes just as much.
“I don’t have an ego on this commission. Maybe some think I do, but I don’t. We have to do our job as regulators. This is not solely a case of marijuana.”
For optimists, just this year a Nevada district court judge overturned an NAC-issued lifetime ban on Wanderlei Silva, citing a lack of substantial evidence with regards to him fleeing a random drug test. Maybe we’ll see a reduction in Diaz’s ban to something more reasonable like, say, 1.25 years.
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