After several months of fan outrage that manifested itself both online and off, the people’s goal to #FreeNickDiaz was met: the Nevada Athletic Commission overturned his five-year suspension for a failed marijuana test. As part of a settlement deal between his lawyers and the commission, he’ll now only suffer an 18-month suspension (which ends in August 2016) and $100,000 fine.
Oh, and he had to write what amounts to an apology for pleading the fifth during his original hearing with the Nevada commission. Via MMA Fighting:
“After conferring with new counsel,” Diaz wrote, “I determined that I wrongfully invoked Fifth Amendment in response to relevant questions posed by members of the Commission and that I should have, and would have, testified to the Commission that I did not use marijuana ‘in-competition,’ as that term is defined by the World Anti-Doping Agency (‘WADA’) in its Anti-Doping Code.””
Middlebrook told MMA Fighting on Tuesday night that the Fifth Amendment controversy was a pivotal part of the settlement agreement.
“It became apparent that the NAC wanted the Fifth Amendment issue as part of any negotiated settlement and therefore the choice was between lengthy litigation or having Nick resume his career this summer,” Middlebrook said. “While I, along with my team, still fully stand by Nick’s invocation of his Constitutional rights and maintain it was the right legal decision, our main focus was resuming Nick’s career. I truly hope moving forward that due process of the law is a reality and not just a legal catchphrase.”
For those who watched the original hearing with Nick Diaz and the Nevada commission, there was a bizarre 10-minute stretch where commissioner Pat Lundvall asked question after question about Diaz’s marijuana use, with Diaz pleading the fifth. Later she tried to have the fighter banned from competition for life, a motion which failed. The commission later settled on five years.
When that suspension was handed down, the Internet erupted in anger. As far as most people were concerned, the commission seemed to be punishing Diaz because he dared to mount a strong defense against their accusations. His lawyers brought up several inconsistencies and problems with the failed drug test, and then Nick refused to answer questions. Such disrespect!
Now we have the commission demanding an apology for Nick exercising his Constitutional right to plead the fifth, to the point where a settlement wouldn’t have been reached without it. If we needed more evidence that the commission was petty and vindictive in their treatment of Diaz, we now have it.