NSAC Takes No Immediate Action on Drug Testing, Promises Future Steps

Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterJanuary 12, 2015

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 03:  Light heavyweight champion Jon Jones waits in a time-out as he defends his title against Daniel Cormier during the UFC 182 event  at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 3, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Jones retained his title by unanimous decision. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)
Steve Marcus/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS — In the end, the Nevada State Athletic Commission's much-anticipated session on its out-of-competition drug-testing program ended up being much ado about nothing.

The program came under fire when UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones tested positive for cocaine metabolites prior to his UFC 182 title defense against Daniel Cormier. Because Jones tested positive early in December rather than close to the actual fight, the test result was considered "out of competition" rather than "in competition," and punishment could not be doled out to Jones by the commission.

In 2007, the NSAC voted to adopt the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of banned substances, effectively picking and choosing portions of the WADA code to follow. The WADA code defines "in competition" as the 12 hours before and immediately following a fight. Any other time is considered out of competition, and cocaine is only banned in competition.

During a Monday meeting attended by Bleacher Report, the Nevada commission—spurred by chairman Francisco Aguilar—opened discussions regarding its program. But no decisions were made, with the commission instead opting to focus its efforts on researching possible changes to Nevada code.

Aguilar explained his reasoning for wanting the discussion on the agenda for today's meeting.

"Given that we didn't have any authority to address it—from what I understand based on the attorney general—I would have liked to have that conversation as a full commission as to what direction we can go and how we can move forward with disciplinary action," Aguilar said. "And with that in mind, I thought, do we need to discuss the definition of in-competition versus out-of-competition?"

Commissioner Anthony Marnell brought up the idea of moving cocaine from the list of drugs that are solely banned in competition to the list of those that are banned out of competition. But it was clear from the response of the other commissioners that they are wary of taking any drastic steps without being absolutely certain they have the jurisdiction to do so.

"What are we discussing?" commissioner Pat Lundvall asked. "What is on the table? What is being proposed? This is an area that sort of falls through the cracks. It's an area we should carefully review and have deliberate discussions about."

"We need to figure out how to move forward with disciplinary action," Aguilar said. "Do we want to deviate from WADA and develop our own definition of out-of-competition testing?"

The commission seemingly admitted it is woefully unprepared to deal with scenarios such as the one surrounding Jones. The end result of the meeting was a proposal for creating a committee that will begin looking into possible changes to Nevada code.

"Maybe it's time for us to hold another one of those hearings," Lundvall said, "so that we can get further educated on new practices, new techniques, new issues that are arising, and figure out what additional rules and regulations that we may also want to consider."

Commissioner Marnell noted that he is currently researching the possibility of an entirely new drug-testing policy—one that will be more encompassing and perhaps tougher on offenders—but said he is not ready to report back on his findings.

All quotes were obtained firsthand.