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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin hit a low point in his career back in 2009, suffering a loss to Anderson Silva at UFC 101 in Philadelphia, a fight in which he was made to look quite silly. That would have been enough, but he then ran out of the cage following the defeat as well. On Monday, Griffin revealed that he was battling more than just Silva at that event.
In an interview with Ariel Helwani at MMAFighting.com, Griffin revealed that he had been dealing with anxiety into that fight, and had taken the prescription drug Xanax ahead of the bout. Griffin said he subsequently failed his post-fight drug screen with the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, and yet he still fought just three months later in Las Vegas at UFC 106. He didn't disclose the post-fight drug test publicly at the time, because he didn't want to "add humiliation to a bad situation."
According to a report from MMAJunkie.com, Griffin did disclose to the Nevada Athletic Commission that he had received a 30-day suspension from the PSAC, but he did not disclose what that suspension was for. Additionally, because the PSAC doesn't release medical information regarding the athletes - see: Nate Marquardt's TRT issue last year - the NAC didn't know what that suspension was regarding.
NAC executive director Keith Kizer commented on the issue, and stressed the importance of commissions like the PSAC submitting disciplinary information to the national database with the Association of Boxing Commissions. Ultimately, it didn't have any bearing on Griffin's UFC 106 fight, as the suspension was short, but it highlighted an issue with uniformity across the commission's overseeing the sport.
"It's very important for the commissions to put that info on the database in case the fighter fights somewhere else and doesn't inform the commission," Kizer said. "The concern with drugs like [Xanax], of course, is the danger it puts the fighter who takes them in. It's not necessarily like a PED where you're increasing your risk to your opponent unfairly. You're increasing the risk to yourself. It is a big concern, and that's one of the reason drugs like that are prohibited to take that close to fight time."
"So hopefully, he's learned his lesson, and hopefully other fighters who may think about taking something like that that close to fight time can learn from the situation. But it's very important to get that information out. It's unfortunate that it's taken three years."
Penick's Analysis: This isn't the first time - nor will it be the last - that a drug test failure stays out of public knowledge until well after the fact. Many commissions simply don't publicize these issues, and then fighters and organizations aren't obligated to divulge that information, either. But it can be an issue if it's not put into the ABC database, because if it's not enforced, a fighter could theoretically compete in a different state under a different commission, while being on suspension. That undermines the commissions further, and does not help with uniform overseeing the sport.
[Forrest Griffin art by Cory Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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