One of the most consistently vexing problems for fighters competing in the UFC is their relationship with the incredibly shady nutritional supplement industry. While some will debate the necessity for anyone to use supplements on a regular basis, for many athletes training multiple times a day (and looking for any recovery edge they can get) taking pills and powders often seems like a necessity.
Given the highly unregulated nature of the vitamin and supplement market, that puts athletes at a high risk for ingesting products tainted with performance enhancing drugs. Even, as it turns out, when they own the company producing them. That seems to be the awkward position Nate Diaz has found himself in.
Diaz recently ran into some trouble with USADA ahead of his planned bout against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 244. The drug testing organization flagged samples provided by Diaz for a “prohibited SARM (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulator), known as LGD-4033.” The limited amount of the substance present in his samples meant that Diaz was neither sanctioned, nor suspended—although he did nearly pull out of his bout against Masvidal on his own accord.
The fight went ahead as planned, with Diaz losing via a controversial 3rd round doctor stoppage, on November 2nd, at Madison Square Garden. However, (h/t to @dimspace on twitter) in a month and a half later – on December 19th – USADA partner Supplement411.org added a new supplement to their “High-Risk List.” The product? “Plant Man Multivitamin,” one of the core products produced by Game Up Nutrition.
Game Up first hit the market in 2018, a Facebook account for the company lists it as “Nick and Nate Diaz’s Game Up.” Plant Man is among the products shown on the company’s social media platforms, although it does not appear to be available on the Game Up website. In an interview back in June with Ariel Helwani, ahead of his bout with Anthony Pettis, Nate spoke about his role in starting the supplement and CBD manufacturing business.
“Game Up CBD, see, that’s my company,” Nate told Helwani. “That’s CBD, all CBD, no psychoactive—and we’re doing that now. Since the CBD has blown up for everybody else now, I’m like, ‘What the fuck?’ ... So, we got the best stuff there is, the best stuff I like. The liquids, the balms, all that shit. And then we made the same ingredient type of stuff, the best stuff I like, and we made our own brand. It’s gonna be a lifestyle brand, we’re gonna do all kinds of cool shit.”
A request for comment from Game Up about their manufacture of the product, and about Nate’s use of the product did not yield a response at the time of publishing. However, as noted in a very thorough breakdown of the situation from TheBodyLock.com, the substance responsible for USADA flagging Nate’s sample was described in a UFC statement as “two bottles of the same organic, vegan, plant-based daily mulivitamin.” And it just so happens that description, along with the LGD-4033 contaminant, makes Plant Man about the only thing on the High-Risk List that fits Nate’s situation.
From the image above, however, it appears that Diaz is lucky his samples only came up positive for LGD-4033 (the only ingredient found in the open bottles tested). Other, sealed bottles also tested positive for Ostarine—a substance that has been the cause for ongoing drug testing problems for Sean O’Malley, Marvin Vettori, and Nicco Montano.
Unfortunately where exactly the blame lies for the unlisted ingredients in Plant Man is harder to pin down. Because supplements are often manufactured and bottled in facilities that create a large number of products for many different brands, tainting can occur at multiple points in the process. Some companies may use unlisted ingredients as a way to get their products to do the things that they claim to do, but – for many others – the presence of foreign substances is just a byproduct of an industry operating with little oversight, or interest in regulation. That’s a lesson it seems Nate Diaz had to find out the hard way.