Diaz could be impetus for changes in Quebec

Nick Diaz. (CP/Ryan Remiorz)

It appears Georges St-Pierre and Nick Diaz have passed their post-UFC 158 drug tests. But that doesn’t mean Diaz’s camp is satisfied the UFC welterweight champion is clean.

Following the UFC event March 16 in Montreal, the Regie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (which oversees the athletic commission that regulates MMA in Quebec) said Thursday the samples provided by all six fighters who were tested for banned substances were negative. While it did not release which fighters were tested, it’s typically mandatory that the headliners are included, which means that both St-Pierre and Diaz passed their tests.

However, Diaz is the only fighter who has confirmed that he provided a post-fight sample. Meanwhile, his lawyer, the Vancouver-based Jonathan Tweedale, has requested that the commission provide more information as to what substances were actually tested for and he believes without that information, the results provided by the commission are not very meaningful.

“Different athletic commissions test for different prohibited substances, so we put in a request (Thursday) following receipt of notice that it was a clean sample … we want to know exactly what were the substances that the Quebec commission asked the lab to test for,” Tweedale told (Showdown Joe) Ferraro in an appearance on Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s UFC Central radio Thursday.

“We’re not going to know how meaningful it is to say Nick and the other fighters didn’t test positive for any prohibited substances until we know what the samples were tested for. “

Diaz made headlines during fight week when he told Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Tim and Sid that he thought St-Pierre was on steroids and that the Quebec athletic commission was covering it up. He later suggested that the Regie did not test for anything in Montreal. (Of note, there has never been a positive test for a banned substance in six UFC events — which would be considered a probabilistic unlikelihood if you strictly compare with the percentages of failed drug tests as with other jurisdictions.)

The allegations caused some tensions between Diaz and GSP as well as the UFC — not to mention the fact that Diaz wouldn’t assure that he would pass a marijuana test, which he has failed twice in the past. (Thankfully, the negative test means he won’t be suspended again.)

The situation was further exacerbated a week later due to some other perceived commission improprieties when a video showing a UFC representative telling Diaz backstage prior to weigh-ins that it “doesn’t count the decimal” — meaning he or St-Pierre could weigh in up to 0.9 pounds over the welterweight limit, which is never the case for championship fights according to other athletic commissions.

Tweedale told Ferraro that the problems with the commission go much deeper than that and need to be addressed going forward. He said part of the problem is that, technically, “mixed martial arts” isn’t even legal in Quebec. It is instead governed under the regulations for a different sport called “mixed boxing,” which was originally devised as a way to have the sport fall under the exception to the criminal code in Canada prohibiting prize fighting which only allowed for boxing.

“The only thing that’s allowed (in Quebec) is mixed boxing. Fascinating rule set, (but) it doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, except under the Quebec commission’s regulations,” Tweedale said. “So what they’ve got to do before any other serious MMA happens in Quebec, is they’ve got to rewrite their regulations so that the law matches up with the sport that they’re supervising and that’s the only way that licensees, such as fighters and promoters and others in the province of Quebec, can have any kind of certainty about what the rules of the game are going to be going forward.”

Diaz immediately clamoured for a rematch after their fight, which St-Pierre won by a one-sided unanimous decision, and Tweedale later issued a statement requesting that St-Pierre be legally forced to grant one due to the weigh-in issue and the fact that the post-fight drug tests were improperly conducted without supervision.

However, Tweedale insists it’s not just about getting a rematch but about seeing positive changes in Quebec’s athletic commission for everyone going forward.

“It all needs to be standardized and fixed, and hopefully what Nick is doing right now is going to provide the impetus to effect these changes in Quebec and Montreal. It’s kind of ironic that it takes a guy from Northern California to come in and help clean up the situation in Quebec.

“It’s more than Georges ever did.”

No irony here — Tweedale is straight up taking a shot at GSP and his home province.

Having said that, the changes he wants to see would certainly benefit the sport of MMA in Quebec — and by extension Canada. But if I were him, I wouldn’t be holding my breath on getting any more details from the commission.

And considering the fact that this will almost certainly not result in Diaz getting a rematch, we’re just not sure how much the works of the (likely) high-priced lawyer that the (apparently) cash-strapped Diaz has hired will ultimately benefit him. Diaz will just have to take solace in the fact that he’s not the bad guy after all.

(You can listen to the whole episode of UFC Central radio, which also includes UFC women’s bantamweight Alexis Davis talking about her career and her upcoming Octagon debut at UFC 161 in Winnipeg, here.)

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