Seven months after failing a drug test for marijuana at UFC 149, Matthew Riddle appeared to be back on track as he stepped into the cage at UFC on Fuel 7. As it turns out, he apparently didn't learn from his mistake as a second failed drug test has now caused the UFC to release this very entertaining fighter.
Riddle himself spoke with BJPenn.com Radio on Wednesday night following his release and seemed baffled about the promotion's decision to release him.
I’ve failed two drug tests in seven months. There’s not much I can do. I was prescribed my medicine and I’m going to take it. I got fired over taking my medicine because I don’t want to take pharmaceutical drugs or testosterone. This is what works for me, it’s just s****y, but it is what it is.
Riddle's second failed drug test for marijuana has been the source of much controversy within the MMA community over the past few days, bringing questions to light that have been debated before, but rarely resulted in a fighter losing his or her job.
Should marijuana be on the banned substances list? Should it be considered a performance-enhancing substance? Should the UFC even care about marijuana when there isn't an athletic commission regulating the event?
All great questions. But they leave out the real question:
Shouldn't Matt Riddle understand that he can't smoke marijuana?
Now before you jump down my throat, let me first say that I completely disagree with marijuana being on the banned substances list. I don't believe it's a performance enhancer and I also don't believe that it should be illegal whatsoever, in any way, shape or form.
But this isn't about what should and shouldn't be allowed. It's about what is allowed under the current rules.
For Matt Riddle and other fighters on a UFC contract, marijuana is against the rules. Period. Put your doctor's note back in your pocket because it doesn't matter. Marijuana is a banned substance.
So why, then, is Matt Riddle surprised about his failed test?
Riddle told BJPenn.com Radio:
I still don’t know how it’s possible; I quit smoking three weeks out from the fight. I’ve passed drug tests when I quit two weeks out from a fight; it’s just crazy to me. I asked for my numbers and they sent me a form that just said I tested positive for marijuana. It didn’t say how much, it just said I was over the amount.
Do you know how it's possible, Matt? Because you put marijuana into your body!
Want to know how to not have a positive drug test? Stop doing it!
This is such an easy concept that I can't believe it even needs to be said. When fighters like Matt Riddle and Nick Diaz openly admit to smoking marijuana, they are simultaneously admitting to a breach of their UFC contract.
I find myself saying this far too often in an effort to explain the decisions they make, but the UFC is a business. When a fighter is admitting to using a substance that is banned by the usual governing body—even if it's not banned in the area the event is currently being held—the fighter draws an immediate red flag from management.
When the drug test comes back positive, the frustrations only grow greater.
With Riddle having already failed one test, the UFC now has to consider the possibility that a third failed test could result in a long suspension. In addition to the bad press that failed tests bring to the sport, not being able to book a fighter for a year (in some cases) is a harsh penalty not just for the fighter but for the organization.
Marijuana apologists and Riddle himself talk about how marijuana is a better natural healer than over-the-counter or prescription medication, but that still doesn't change the fact that it is against the rules.
If you're a fighter who can't go without marijuana, then perhaps you should consider moving to an area that does not test for the substance. Don't bother signing with the UFC because chances are pretty good that you're eventually going to get caught when you have to fight in an area that does test.
And don't complain about getting released, either. Don't play the "woe is me" card.
You are a professional athlete who is living the life that thousands, if not millions of people around the world want. For every one of you who doesn't take your responsibilities seriously, there are a thousand others who would give up everything to take your spot on the UFC roster.
Until marijuana gets removed from testing, we need to hold these fighters accountable for their decisions. In this case, the UFC made the right move to serve Matt Riddle his walking papers.