Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why the arguments for suspending Nick Diaz for 5 years are stupid

Well, it certainly looks like the entire Nevada State Athletic Commission is made up of a bunch of small dick vindictive little piss-ants.

It is possible that is not the case. I'm not in favor of trial by Instagram so it is possible that there are extenuating circumstances of which I am not aware that justify their actions - like maybe while Nick was smoking a joint he shot one of their mothers or something.

However, let me address a few stupid arguments I have seen people make, and I'd like to preface this with two things.

First, the Diaz family has been unfailingly kind, polite and respectful to my daughter and that began long before she became successful. I can't say that about too many people. Any time I have met either Diaz brother they have been as polite and respectful as you would hope someone to be to your mom. It's not just me. Other people who have met them have made the same comment. Away from the media, I have never seen or heard anything but good about them.

Second, my points below apply to anyone. So, although I have reason to like the Diaz brothers, I would hold these positions equally if I did not like them.

Stupid argument #1: If you break a rule, you should expect to be punished.

In America, we believe that the punishment should fit the crime. We hold this so strongly that it is in our original Bill of Rights. The eighth amendment to the constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Look it up.

I live in Santa Monica where parking tickets seem to be the city's main source of income. If I park on the right side of the street on a Monday when they are doing street cleaning, I expect to get a ticket. There is a sign posted saying not to park there on Monday. I do not expect the traffic police to knock on my door and shoot me with a bazooka, impound my car, run over my dog or any other punishment far out of proportion to the crime.

Stupid argument #2 : If you break a rule more than once, you shouldn't be surprised if they throw the book at you

Let's take a look at driving laws. If I talk on my cell phone while driving, the first offense is $20. The second offense and subsequent offenses are $50.

I've actually gotten two tickets for that and paid them both.

If I get a third ticket and they throw me in jail for three months and I lose my job, I'm going to argue that was vastly out of proportion to the crime.

What exactly would punishment like that accomplish? The point is to "teach me a lesson" so that I quit talking on my cell phone?

Why does the state of California not see that some people might just pay the $50 and keep using their phones while driving? I suspect they do see that but our state government officials realize the stupidity of causing people to lose their livelihood over relatively minor offenses.

Stupid argument #3: They have to make an example of people who continually break the rules. Otherwise, why have them?

Making an example of someone sounds uncomfortably to me like you are not treating everyone equally, and for any body doling out punishments, that's a pretty creepy thought. What exactly is this example supposed to teach? Don't smoke marijuana?

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health TWENTY MILLION PEOPLE USED MARIJUANA IN THE LAST MONTH. That's 7.5% of the population aged 12 and older. 

I kind of doubt the NSAC ruling is going to dent the marijuana smoking population much.

Does this mean that they should just continue to give relatively minor punishments to people who repeatedly commit relatively minor offenses? Yes, yes it does. No matter how many tickets I get for talking on my cell phone, I don't think it is right for the state to impound my car to make an example of me.

Stupid argument #4: It is okay to penalize someone far more for a marijuana violation than steroids or cocaine because "He did it more than once"

So, let me get this straight ... by this reasoning, if I shoot my neighbor tomorrow, I should get a lighter sentence than if I go over and spray "You suck, neighbor!" on her front door for the third time.

There is a law against vandalism and I shouldn't do it. However, no matter how many times I do it, it doesn't cause the same harm to an individual or society as shooting someone.

Similarly, if you take Performance Enhancing Drugs, which really DO give you an advantage in an athletic competition (and have we forgotten here that the A in NSAC stands for Athletic?) then that should be penalized more severely than an inconsistent result on a test for a drug that does not provide you a benefit nor put your opponent at risk in an athletic competition.


There may be something here I am not seeing, but what it looks like is a few people got offended that they weren't receiving what they considered the proper amount of deference and assuming they were untouchable and above questioning in their little fiefdom, decided to mess with an athlete's life to teach a lesson to the rest of the peasants to stay in line. I have seen that kind of crap far too many  times in my involvement in elite sports and it makes me sick. 
This is my day job - making games that make you smarter.

You can  play them yourselves or donate one to a child or school so they don't grow up to be a dumb ass or on the NSAC , but  perhaps that was redundant?


Ferrist Keeper said...

Great read. 100% agree on your stance about the whole situation. It's hard to believe a commission would even consider such a stiff penalty for something as harmless as a bit of weed. I've smoked pot for a decade and know others who have as well, and they're some of the nicest people I know. It's not for everyone i'll admit, but if it works for Nick Diaz, then hell, let him do what makes him happy. I can't even begin to imagine what the hell was going on in their minds, or Pat Lundvall's mind for considering a lifetime ban! Especially considering how the United States has been vocal about the possibility of legalizing marijuana.

Anonymous said...

I agree with largely everything you say. Respectfully, I'm not sure what exact situation you were referring to about talking/being on your phone when driving but someone I know was killed because someone was on their phone while driving.
Every situation is different of course so I'm not judging you, and you probably don't give a crap what I or anyone on the Internet has to say anyway, I just wanted to put that out there.
Your world view is always very interesting to read, I'm looking forward to your next blog.

Unknown said...

Great column! I'm not a fan of either Diaz brother. I don't hate them as I've never met them, and they've never done anything to me. I just don't like the talking and theatrics they do in the Octagon, and that is the only persona I have to base an opinion.

With that said, I am in 100% agreement with you that the NSAC stepped so far beyond the line with this punishment that they look vindictive and childish. He didn't beg and grovel at the feet of The Commission, and they took it as an affront to them. I, like you if I understand your article, feel that there should be a punishment; however, 5 years is ridiculous. The punishment is retaliation for having the timidity to mount a defense.

My one disagreement, not with you, but to the argument that many have made (Ronda included) is that's it isn't right because it was only pot. Well, those are the rules. Work to change them; campaign to change them; do everything you can to eliminate the law. However, it IS the rule NOW. If you can't work within that rule, don't bitch and moan when you're caught.

Stromkins said...

I quite disagree. Mr. Diaz knew he was going to get tested, and that his use would be detected. As he already had a 6 month and a 12 month suspension for the same thing, he must have known that he would be getting an absolute minimum penalty of 12 months, and following the pattern (either +6 months or times two), perhaps a penalty of 18 months or 24 months. Perhaps you therefore diagree with the difference between 24 months he logically was willing to accept in advance, and the 6 months he actually received.

Cannabis being on the banned list is another issue altogether. It currently is, and he used it knowing he would be caught, and that he would face penalty of either 12, 18, or 24 months. Pretty stupid thing to do, unless he wasn't planning on fighting again any time soon.

Unknown said...

I have seen it as well, often with USADA involvement. There needs to be a system of checks and balances in place. Unfortunately, and obviously, there is not.

Eric Brown

Ventus said...

You got all that just right, of course.

If i would have anything to add it would be that those kinds of people are obviously always causing the same kind of trouble in many different positions, the ego driven types. There isnt many differences between them when you really look at it. Its the same program. But if anything, they cannot avoid doing huge mistakes like this and so expose themselves as they are.

We just need to integrate better ways to get rid of them into the society structures.
If i would need to guess i would say removing or flushing those types and "personalities" away would improve our efficiency and advancement as a civilization for atleast 50%.

Hopefully this will all end in some people being removed from positions not good for them. Or the rest of us. And some reasonable punishment for the actual offense.

Anonymous said...

The comparison against talking on your cell phone while driving is awful.

In Ontario Canada we fine $480 on your first offence plus you lose three points, meaning that if you're caught enough times you will indeed lose your license.

Like you said, $20 won't stop some people from using their cell while driving, proving that the fine in California isn't big enough. The number of car accidents caused by cell phones is eclipsing the number by Drinking and Driving. I respectfully ask you to inform yourself on the manner.

Anonymous said...

For now you can get pulled over multiple times talking on a cell in California without getting points added to your license. Four points accrued in one year gets your license suspended for 6 months.

I agree with your assessment about reasonable punishments however even traffic violations have an increase in punishment for repeat offenses. In the case of getting your license suspended for six months I think this is an extreme punishment even if you were pulled over four times for speeding in one year. Increasing the fine $ per offense would be less punishing than the money spent finding alternative means of transportation.

Th problem with having the same level of punishment for each repeat offense is revealed with the drought problem in California. A 100 $ flat fine for wasting water is chump change to rich people who can keep using the same amount of water. An increase in fine amount or alternative harsher punishment would need to be implemented to be effective in reducing water consumption in this instance.

therefore the punishment should increase by reasonable increments for each failed drug test. Five years is out of line but a permanently flat punishment is ineffective.

Talking on the cell phone – VC 23123 – does NOT put a point on your license. However be aware the California Legislature is considering passing a new law to make a second time cell phone violation count as a DMV point so it’s quite possible at some point in the future a second time cell phone violation will count as a DMV point.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

As far as the cell phone and driving - I think maybe there is a difference between LA and much of Ontario, Canada. I've never been in an accident talking on my phone and not an accident of any kind in decades. If you're sitting in traffic going 3 miles an hour and bump into someone, it's probably not going to be serious. If you're driving 80 miles an hour, that's different.

Anonymous said...

hello,dr demars.i know this isn't the proper forum to ask questions but my question is kind of long and i don't want to bother you on twitter.i recently came across an old article about the fighter rowdy bec rawlings about her domestic abuse and her not pressing got me wondering what % of domestic violence cases don't get brought to the police.i went online and got multiple numbers some similar, some not.i was wondering with you being a statistician if there is site all other statisticians go to that is considered the gold standard.

Sylver said...

While I think that 5 years is excessive, I think you are missing the picture here.

Forget that we are talking about Nick (a friendly and personable guy who befriended your daughter back when he had nothing to gain from it) and imagine instead we are talking about Cyborg. Now look at the facts:

1. Repeated violation of the rules, aka cheating:
While you may not agree with marijuana as a PED, it's on the list and therefore its use is considered cheating.

It's the 4th such offense. I don't know of any athlete still in a major MMA organization after getting caught 4 times. (3 failed tests and skipped one test).
Nick's case is rather unique in that respect. Caught cheating 4 times. Who else do you know with such a track record?

2. No intent to change.
Nick isn't a guy trying to quit and struggling with it. Nick advocates smocking weed and uses it while knowing it is against the rules. Simply doesn't care and shows no intend to change. Can you honestly say that you expect Nick to change and quit using?

Suppose you are responsible for keeping the sport clean and preventing athletes from cheating. How lenient would you be towards an athlete who pretty much says "no, I will continue to cheat, I like it, it works for me, f* whatever you say".

How can you license an athlete if you know perfectly well that said athlete cheated 4 times in the past and still intends to cheat again?

At the end of the day, the suspension is not just a punishment, it's also a tool to prevent future abuses.

3. Treating people equally.
Nick is in a completely new category. No one else has been caught 4 times, so no one is his equal in that regard.

However do consider what would happen to a 4 times steroid user, or to a 4 times painkiller user. Neither of them would be allowed to go past 3 proven failed tests, let alone 4.

4. It's just weed, not steroids, not really a PED.
From the viewpoint of the athletic commission, a PED is a substance on the list. You can't make an argument that "it's on the list, but it's not quite as bad as...". It's a banned substance for athletic competition and it's the athletic commission's job to make sure no one competes while using a banned substance.

Second, weed is on the list for a reason. Steroids help an athlete develop more power and train more. Cannabinoids numbs pain and emotions, including anxiety. It also produces the "I don't give a f*" attitude so well demonstrated by Nick.

I am sure you can see that these characteristics of cannabinoids could enhance the performances of a certain type of athletes. It won't increase your strength, but it will allow you to be somewhat unfazed by the damage you are receiving. In a game that's mostly mental and relies a lot on intimidation, a drug that reduces anxiety and produces a chill-out effect could have a greater impact on the contest's outcome than a bit more strength.

Instead of fighting someone unusually strong (steroids), you're fighting someone who can take damage unusually well and who tends not to panic or get overexcited when in a tight spot because his emotions are subdued.

Don't know about you, but that sounds like a PED to me.

Mike Ripple said...

Both guys have very natural, histrionic personalities. There is nothing contrived or made up when it comes to their "theatrics". This is who they are...genuine people who are quite reactionary by nature....and, I for one, vehemently disagree with the penalty imposed as well as the rule.
On a grander scale, but no more important in principle, we, as colonials, tried to reason with King George of England regarding taxation (as well as several other issues) to no avail. We were encouraged by Thomas Jefferson to " break the rules" whenever possible....and look where we are now.

Mike Ripple said...

The rules should be approved or disapproved by the majority...not 4 "suits", one of which owns 71% of a medical weed dispensary in Colorado BTW...
You will see this majority in action in the coming weeks and Nick's penalty will be overturned.

Mike Ripple said...

Mrs. DeMars...

Best blog in a long, long time...

Mike Ripple said...

Not too many truths in all those words...

Anonymous said...

Sylver - You're painfully dumb and it's most likely your fault. It's like you didn't even read the post or listen to the NSAC hearing or do any research outside of your own anti-Diaz bias. For starters, weed does not create the "I don't give a f*" attitude. How can someone even make a statement like that? It sounds like you haven't finished high school or learned critical thinking. There is zero research about weed being a PED. I highly suggest paying more attention to your education and less to the actions of the NSAC. I shudder to think that I have to share the world with people like you.

Cuivre said...

I am a very anti-drug person, having seen many people destroyed by them, along with innocent bystanders and family. That being said, I think Sylver's response was extremely cogent and well thought out. The law and politics of it all is irrelevant. An agreed upon contract is very cut and dried. Diaz cannot continue to spit in the face of his de facto regulatory agency and expect them to pat him on the head like a good little boy-over and over and over. Welcome to Human Nature and Real Life 101, Little Nicky-now grow the hell up. I did watch Nick's rampling, barely coherent "speech" outside the hearing. He threw all his fellow UFC/MMA competitors and supporters totally under the bus when he said they were ALL on steroids (except him, of course!)- including Ronda, presumably. Where does being a friend to this cretin stop, and being his useful sucker start?

Dr. AnnMaria said...

I think, Cuivre, it is an issue of bias and abuse of power more than being anti-drug. Given that he passed 2 drug tests, that they tested him 3 times by two agencies and took the one he failed it looks very much like they were out to get him. I find it distasteful when there seems to be an institutional effort to attack a particular individual and test them more frequently and penalize them more heavily. In fact, I suspect that is illegal. Also, there is a huge amount of evidence that not all drugs are equally costly, even in economic terms. Comparing marijuana to steroids or methamphetamines, definitely there is no argument for penalizing marijuana equivalently with the latter. It's like giving the same penalty for speeding three times as for stealing a car. It makes no sense. Saying "we have to teach people not to speed" it still makes no sense.

Cuivre said...

Does not showing up for a drug test count as a "Passed" or "Failed" test? I presume it is similar to refusal for a roadside sobriety test- failure to allow the test yields an assumption of a "Failed" result. Walking a thin line by trying to stay below a threshold value is a dangerous game not worth playing. Publicly bragging about smoking pot and still being able to pass their test is a fool's game and is putting the authority of the testing agency at stake.

This whole saga reminds me of those folks who start cursing out a cop when they are pulled over for what could be a simple warning- when they reach for their cell phone to record the interaction, worse things can end up happening...

Sylver said...

"Given that he passed 2 drug tests, that they tested him 3 times by two agencies and took the one he failed it looks very much like they were out to get him"
That's how it is presented, but if you knew a bit more about how the testing works, you might come away with an entirely different conclusion:
The WADA test - which Nick knew about - measures specific gravity of cannabis metabolites in urine - how much metabolites for how much water.
However, the urine samples provided by Nick Diaz were heavily diluted (Normal specific grav for urine is around "1.020". "1" means water. The test stops being useful around "1.008". Nick samples had a spec grav of "1.003" and "1.006", respectively - the urine Diaz submitted was mostly water). These tests results were negative because his urine was too diluted for meaningful results.
The Quest test does not compare metabolites to water, but metabolites to creatinine levels in urine. And of course, diluting the urine makes no difference because it would also dilute the creatinine.
This test - which Nick didn't know about - turned out positive.
Looks like Nick knew how to beat the WADA tests for drug abuse or maybe it was a consequence of his weight cut/rehydration process, but what we DO know is that he was under the influence on fight night. He was definitely cheating.
It's like a shop protected by 3 security cameras: 2 visible cameras had the wrong angle and you can't see anything wrong, but the third security camera, hidden, shows the thief's hand in the cash register. You don't let the thief go because the other 2 cameras didn't catch him. You arrest him because the cash register camera DID.
Should Nick get credit for beating 2 tests? Or should be penalized for getting caught with his hand in the bag by the third test?
Clearly, the commission knows about the limits of the tests and wanted to make sure he was clean. They brought in another specialized testing lab to run another test, using a different protocol. And Nick failed that test not because the commission is made of big meanies, but because the idiot cheated once again. In other words, they were doing their job.
"Comparing marijuana to steroids or methamphetamines, definitely there is no argument for penalizing marijuana equivalently with the latter. It's like giving the same penalty for speeding three times as for stealing a car. It makes no sense."
You will find people arguing that x or y doesn't belong in the list, or that z should be allowed for medical purposes... it's all irrelevant to the issue at hand. On the day of the fight, the rules banned that specific substance, and therefore taking that substance is cheating. You can have a look at the in competition WADA list ( and you will see there is no hierarchy of banned substances. Cannabis is not "less banned" than steroids or EPO.
It's not the job of the commission to get into debates about the seriousness of the various banned substances. The commission’s job is to apply the existing rules.
The commission did its job. They don't deserve the abuse they are getting over this.
On Cannabis being banned, Nick Diaz could have waited a couple days after the fight to smoke, but instead, he smoked on fight day. A disciplined guy who can keep a strict diet and dehydrate himself for two week, who can train hard all year around... and yet he can't wait 2-3 days to smoke? Think about it. He knew it, he was already caught for it, lost a bunch of $$$ and received 3 bans already. And yet he did it again. Why? Did he need the drug to get in the cage? Is he addicted and unable to control his drug use? Or is he too high to understand the consequences of his actions and give a fuck about his career? Weed is marketed as "cool" and "no big deal" but the truth is clearly different.

Sylver said...

Name calling and abuse doesn't make you right, you know. It just shows that you are angry, coarse and have no viable arguments to defend your views.

Dr. AnnMaria said...

Testing someone three times in the same night does appear to me biased behavior. Bias, by definition, means treating people differently. In my experience, which spans 32 years of coaching and competing in sports when drug testing was applied (they didn't do it early in my career), I have NEVER known anyone to be tested 3 times in the same night. I'm not saying it has never happened but it is certainly rare. I think the commission completely deserves the abuse it is getting over this. This is a whole different post but saying something is your job doesn't make a wrong thing right. If the job of the athletic commission is to protect athletes it is very difficult for me to see how throwing the book at someone for smoking marijuana does this. It very much looks like they threw a fit because their petty authority was not sufficiently respected. As someone who competed a lot, I would like to feel that a commission would be harsher on someone who used steroids, even if they talked really nicely afterward, than someone who smoked marijuana. I have fought people who were on speed and steroids. I've also fought people who had smoked pot. It's a whole different ball game. Marijuana is NOT a performance enhancing drug. Is this commission to protect the athletes or is an arm of the DEA ?

Sylver said...

"Testing someone three times in the same night does appear to me biased behavior. Bias, by definition, means treating people differently. In my experience, which spans 32 years of coaching and competing in sports when drug testing was applied (they didn't do it early in my career), I have NEVER known anyone to be tested 3 times in the same night."

If Cyborg gets in the UFC and fights Ronda, do you want her to be tested "just like everyone else"? She is not like everyone else, she already has one failed test on her record, 3 years ago. She should be tested within an inch of her life to make sure there is NO chance that she is cheating this time around. Don't you agree?

Nick didn't get tested 3 times because "they don't like him", he got tested 3 times because he failed several drugs tests in the past (and I can't think of any other high level athlete who has been caught 3 times for drug infractions and still competes - can you?)

And it turns out that they were right to do it because he WAS cheating and they caught him. If he weren't cheating, all these tests would have been nothing more than filling up 3 cups of piss, which isn't that huge a deal.

"I have fought people who were on speed and steroids. I've also fought people who had smoked pot. It's a whole different ball game. Marijuana is NOT a performance enhancing drug."

How many killers in the gym get in the cage/tournament and get slaughtered? They have the skills and strength but they can't deal with the nerves, with the pressure or with the intimidation. They walk on the mat or in the ring or in the cage and freeze. They can't perform at all, or they get so nervous they gas out just walking in the cage. A drug that helps them relax would definitely be a PED.

Next, Judo and MMA aren't the same. In judo, your opponent throws you and that's the end of the fight. Doesn't matter that you aren't hurt or that you can continue the fight, if Ippon is called, that's that.

In MMA, your ability to take damage and keep going is a huge factor:

Watch the fight between Nick Diaz and Takanori Gomi. Nick Diaz was high as fuck in that fight. Blatantly so (and of course failed the drug test). He was getting beaten up pretty bad, several knock down and takedowns, his face was cut all over, and he looked just numb, no pain. Comes the second round, Gomi was out of gas, made a mistake and Nick pulled off a (beautiful) gogoplata choke.

In Judo terms, he would have been defeated almost right away. But this isn't judo and as long as he could take the damage, he was in the game and was able to weather the storm that was Gomi until Gomi slowed to a crawl. Did being high help him take the punishment and not give a fuck? Probably.

Cuivre said...

Just asking a piont of clarification for the present case in question- was Diaz sampled three times in one night or was his individual/split SAMPLE tested three times? As a former Principle Investigator (Pharmacokinetics Team) for a BioPharma Services Company, sequential/differential testing of samples is not unusual if various system suitability factors for that particular matrix/assay are not satisfied. I do not see how they would sample him ("test" him) three separate times in one evening without knowing the sample suitability would be suspect for that given test utilized.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anne Marie big fan of yours and Ronda's, your podcast interviews are hilarious. The five year suspension is way too harsh, the Nevada state commission pretty much ended Nick's career and i just found it crazy that pot was the cause of this. Did one fighter get tested for cocaine and got a year long ban. I hope Nick appeals and wins. Alcohol really is more dangerous and i guarantee if they tested for alcohol there would be no more UFC, you would have no fighters.

Ventus said...

Well, they did not throw a book at him, but gave him a penalty that does not exist in the book of rules they use. As far as i understand from reading about it.

While marijuana does not have any performance enhancing effects, but rather performance de-hancing effects like chilling out, cracking jokes and laughing, feeling craving for cookies and icecream, video games or just lying down for a while - in most cases.... it could still be argued that it may provide some psychological benefit to someone who is used to fighting and smoking.

But even so, the penalty itself and the way it was reached are practically illegal.

Being caught three times, (questionable as i hear), being rude or disrespectful to the commission, the dissolving social stigma about marijuana as a "drug" - which it is not, btw - none of that can possibly excuse such a verdict and penalty - which do not exist in the code and the rules.

Cuivre said...

If Nick was going to plead for a form of a nullem crimen to be enacted for him, his tact and attitude at the hearing was not exactly the way to go about it. His attitude about the commission being a bunch of "dorks" harkens to what many people experience at typical class reunions- the hot shots from High School tend to end up being a line employee for those who were previously referred to as "dorks" while in High School! Nick just realized who runs the world after the adolescent "might makes right" period becomes obsolete.

Unknown said...

Liked this blog...sans the dreary zzzzzzz replies.