In the world of professional mixed martial arts, athletes who test positive for cannabis use experience harsh, sometimes exorbitant penalties. Fighters are routinely subject to drug screenings from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and testing positive, especially multiple times, can derail a career. Perhaps the most high-profile of these instances is the case of Nate Diaz, the star UFC fighter suspended for five years and fined $165,000 in 2015. The latest attention-grabbing suspension, however, is Cynthia Calvillo’s. The strawweight MMA star was handed a nine-month suspension on Tuesday for failing a drug test. Calvillo tested positive for THC-COOH, a THC metabolite.
UFC Strawweight Cynthia Calvillo Strapped With Dual Suspensions For Weed
UFC Strawweight Cynthia Calvillo is undeniably a rising star. She began her professional mixed martial arts career in 2016, four years after her amateur debut. In 2017, MMAjunkie.com named her “Newcomer of the Year.”
Despite losing her most recent fight, a December 30 bout with Carla Esparza at UFC 219, Calvillo boasts a 6-1 professional record, with two TKOs and two submissions. She currently sits at No. 9 on the UFC’s official strawweight rankings.
But it was at UFC 219 that Calvillo tested positive for marijuana. Initially, the USADA strapped Calvillo with a six-month sanction for the offense. That announcement came last week, along with a proviso that Calvillo could cut the suspension to three months. To do so, she’d have to go through a drug awareness program.
Then on Tuesday, Calvillo received an additional suspension, this time from the Nevada Athletic Commission. The NAC announced that it was suspending her for nine months for the same positive drug test.
Additionally, the NAC issued Calvillo a $6,150 fine. According to sources, that’s 15 percent of the MMA fighter’s $41,000 purse from UFC 219. Finally, the NAC requires Calvillo to submit a clean drug screening in order to regain her license.
For events in Nevada, it’s not uncommon for the NAC to issue penalties alongside the USADA when it comes to athletes who test positive for drugs within its jurisdiction.
The longer suspension means that Calvillo won’t have to sit through a drug awareness program if she doesn’t want to. Reducing her USADA suspension won’t get her back in the action any sooner.
Final Hit: MMA Star Cynthia Calvillo Suspended For Nine Months For Smoking Weed
All signs suggest Cynthia Calvillo was busted for smoking weed with a urine test. The fact that she tested positive for the THC metabolite carboxy-THC, or THC-COOH, indicates that the screening tested the fighter’s urine.
The presence of THC-COOH in Calvillo’s system at UFC 219 doesn’t necessarily mean the fighter was under the influence of cannabis during the event. It just means that she smoked weed sometime prior to it.
THC metabolites stick around in the body anywhere from one to ten weeks or more. It all depends on how frequently a person consumes cannabis.
But the real question isn’t how Calvillo tested positive, it’s why the USADA cares about marijuana at all, especially when it seems to care much less about steroid use or other PEDs.
The Nate Diaz suspension in 2015 catapulted that question into the spotlight. Diaz’s case rose to such prominent national attention that a supporter actually petitioned the Obama White House to rescind the fighter’s suspension. Today, cannabis use is still a topic of serious discussion within the MMA community.
Diaz, and other fighters who have tested positive for cannabis, say they use weed to manage their pain. They view cannabis as safer, non-addictive, and less damaging to their bodies than prescription opioids. Diaz is completely open and unapologetic about his cannabis use.
MMA fighters, Diaz explains in an interview with High Times, can use cannabis for a variety of personal wellness reasons. He also points out the apparent hypocrisy of UFC commissioners who own dispensaries or are invested in the cannabis industry, yet dole out penalties to fighters who use cannabis legally.