Fighters at UFC 225 Warned about Zero Tolerance Policy for Marijuana in Illinois

The fighters competing at UFC 225 have been warned about rules differences in Illinois that could adversely affect their drug tests for marijuana

The fighters competing at UFC 225 have received a pre-emptive warning about rules in place by the Illinois State Athletic Commission that could adversely affect their drug testing results.

MMANytt obtained a copy of the memo sent to the fighters and their camps ahead of UFC 225 with information about how the Illinois Commission treats positive tests for marijuana.

In Illinois, if an athlete shows any amount of marijuana (THC) during an in competition drug sample, it will be flagged as positive.

This is unlike the drug testing standards set forth by USADA, who oversees the UFC’s anti-doping program, where athletes are only required to stay under the 150 ng/mL limit for marijuana during an in competition drug test.

“Because of Illinois’ no tolerance policy for marijuana, we recommend that marijuana use be discontinued for anyone participating on the UFC 225 card between now and the event,” the memo read.

The only exception to the rule will be for fighters who have received a medical prescription to use marijuana from a physician. Those athletes would have to submit paperwork in writing to the Illinois Commission showing proof of the medical need of marijuana. If the athlete is approved, only then can they have marijuana in their system during the in competition drug test.

All athletes on the card — even those receiving an exemption — would still be subjected to USADA’s testing limits for marijuana at 150 ng/mL.

While this might seem like strange protocol, the reality is every state has the right to set their own limits for drug testing including how much marijuana is allowable for athletes competing in sports like mixed martial arts and boxing.

UFC flyweight competitor Jessica Eye famously had her 2013 win against Sarah Kaufman overturned to a no contest by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation when she tested positive for marijuana following the fight.

It turned out Eye only showed 16 ng/mL in her sample — almost 10 times less the USADA testing limits — but in Texas the threshold was 15 ng/mL. Because of that, Eye’s UFC debut win was overturned.

Unfortunately the fighters in Illinois will have even stricter limits placed upon them with any amount of marijuana showing up in their systems triggering a positive test unless pre-approved by the commission for the use of the drug.

UFC 225 takes place on June 9 from the United Center in Chicago.

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Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the industry since 2003 with bylines on FOX Sports, CNN, Bleacher Report and numerous other outlets.