Back in November of last year, USADA announced that it would be overhauling its testing and punishments for athletes that popped positive for recreational drugs. That change came following the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) shift in focus that, when it came to non-performance enhancing drugs, “the priority should be on the athlete’s health rather than on imposing a lengthy sporting sanction.”
The UFC’s drug-testing partner quickly followed that lead, noting in an update to their anti-doping policy, that “the period of Ineligibility may be reduced or eliminated,” for athletes who test positive for a substance that they can prove “did not enhance, and was not intended to enhance” their performance.
How that will all shake out for Tim Elliott and Jamahal Hill, however, is a little unclear. The two fighters are set to appear before the Nevada Sate Athletic Commission (NSAC) on Wednesday, August 5th, after failing in-competition drug tests for marijuana surrounding their May 30th bouts at the UFC Apex facility.
Elliott lost his bout to UFC newcomer Brandon Royval, via second round submission. While Hill picked up a first round TKO victory over Klidson Abreu. In the intervening time between Elliott’s loss and the NSAC’s announcement, the Glory MMA and Fitness fighter made a quick turnaround, defeating Ryan Benoit by unanimous decision at the UFC’s July 16th ‘Fight Island’ event.
The flyweight fighter took to Twitter shortly after the news was made public, saying that he hoped his track record as a clean athlete would give him a chance to defend himself against a potential lengthy suspension.
USADA has yet to to make public any pending sanctions against Hall or Elliott. However, UFC middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum found himself on the receiving end of a nine month suspension from USADA in November of 2019, following his second positive test for marijuana. That suspension was reduced to just five months after Gastelum’s completion of a drug treatment program.
Similarly, Cynthia Calvillo was suspended nine months by the NSAC for her 2018 drug test failure for marijuana—a full three months longer than the six month suspension handed out by USADA for her same infraction. As was Ramsey Nijem, who appeared before the NSAC in December of 2019, in relation to a failed in-competition drug test for an October bout with the PFL.
UFC bantamweight Journey Newson received just a 30-day suspension from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation for his positive test for marijuana just back in February of this year. He’s currently scheduled to face Randy Costa on September 26th. For now, when it comes to fighters and positive tests for recreational drug use, it seems it’s all down to which agency performed the test in terms of the punishment handed down.