Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sacramento, California-based UFC strawweight prospect Cynthia Calvillo holds a medical marijuana card in her home state. Cannabis is legal for both medicinal and recreational use in California. Cannabis is legal for both medicinal and recreational use in Nevada. Yet Calvillo fought at UFC 219 in Las Vegas, Nevada and failed a test for cannabis.

WADA prohibits athletes from competing while high. That seems reasonable. But Calvillo tested above the threshold for marijuana metabolites. Given that fighters have to severely dehydrate before fighting, that threshold needs to be reexamined. It’s failing. But WADA’s failure is hurting athletes.

USADA was reasonable, suspending her for six months, with a reduction to three months if she took an education course on recreational drugs and MMA. Given that fighters fight every four months, it was a slap on the wrist. However, the Nevada State Athletic Commission saw fit to come down harder on the fighter, suspending her for nine months, and fining her 15 percent of her purse. And in a black mark against both USADA and NSAC, Calvillo lost a sponsor, the sports drink Body Armor, which is also UFC sponsor.

Calvillo appeared recently on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour and discussed what happened.


“I really didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” said Calvillo, as transcribed by Dave Doyle for MMA Fighting. “I’m not trying to be a rebel, just, I don’t know. It just really, really sucks that I’m in this position right now.”


“They say you have to be literally pretty super, super high in order to test positive the day of the fight. There’s no way in hell I smoked or took any cannabis the week of my fight at all. Let alone the day of my fight.”

“They tell us, like, they’re comfortable about how much time you would need to be cleared for in-competition testing. The last time I had consumed cannabis was on Christmas Eve, which was the week of the fight. I usually use it for sleeping, I use it for inflammation, I have had my medical card for over two years. It’s something I’ve used especially because I had an injury where I broke arm my three times in a row, and so I use it for the medical component and cannabis, CBD does help heal your bones. I was also having trouble sleeping for a long time; [cannabis is] better than using over-the counter stuff.

“It’s something that I discussed with [UFC vice president of athlete health and performance] Jeff Novitzky before, even once I got into the UFC in terms of the usage of marijuana. So I’ve done this safely every single fight, I’ve been tested every day the day of my fight and it’s never been an issue before.”

“It just really sucks. If there was chance, if they didn’t make me feel so comfortable about it, and there was a chance I would test that high, and fail my test, I wouldn’t even have done it. I train so hard, I’ve had the success that I have, forget about weed, if they told me I need to not be doing this at all just to make sure it doesn’t happen, then I would follow it. I would make sure it would happen. But I really didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.”

“I’m the least person you need to worry about. The Nevada commission has fined people six months for [PEDs] but they’re suspending me nine months for cannabis, which is something I use for sleeping or inflammation which is not going to hurt me or my body and not hurt any opponent. … It’s legal there, there are a lot of people in the commission who are involved in dispensaries and in the business, so it just kinda sucks.”

“I have to deal with this s***. I was hoping, I was ready to go. I was ready to fight, like I said two weeks when I got the news I was ready to sign my contract to get my next fight going. For me, I dwell on it a little bit, not even then, it feels bad but then motivates me to get straight back to work. It’s kind of like, the fact, right now, too, I was really bummed out when I found out they gave me my nine month suspension, but, it’s like, the show must go on, I’m going continue training and stay busy and hopefully these next six months will pass I’ll back come back stronger than before. Any other time I’ve ever had to be held down and held back I’ve always come back strongly. I just feel bad for whoever I have to fight next.”