'All clear' for Diaz to fight Masvidal

NEW YORK • A day after Nate Diaz said he would not fight in his upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship bout at Madison Square Garden because he was told he had tested positive for a banned substance - an allegation that he made public and denied in a single tweet - officials said he is all clear.

His fight against fellow American Jorge Masvidal, the main event of UFC 244, will now go ahead as scheduled for Saturday.

"Mr Diaz has not committed an anti-doping policy violation, has not been provisionally suspended and is not subject to any sanctions," the UFC said in a statement released late last Friday.

At a recent random drug test, the welterweight was found to have traces of LGD-4033, a selective androgen receptor modulator, which is banned because of its anabolic, muscle-building effects.

However, the UFC said that the amounts detected did not reach a minimum threshold for a failed test, and a lab found that two bottles of a plant-based multivitamin used by Diaz were contaminated with the banned substance.

The 34-year-old, a ferocious fighter whose salty language and frequent criticism of UFC spur his popularity, has a habit of creating controversy.

His upset victory over Conor McGregor in 2016 shot him to global attention, but, after losing a close rematch with the Irishman later that year, Diaz did not fight again for nearly three years.

But his return in August, with a victory over compatriot Anthony Pettis, raised his profile again.

This time, nine days before his next bout, it was a tweet that shook the UFC.

Diaz told his 1.35 million Twitter followers on Thursday he would not fight "because they say I tested with elevated levels that they say might be from some tainted supplements".

He also vehemently denied taking any sort of steroids - an allegation Diaz often hurls at opponents - and other fighters, including Masvidal, came to his defence, insisting his "name is clean".

Diaz alleged that other fighters would keep quiet until after their bout to collect the payday, something he considered to be "cheating".

The revelation surprised the mixed martial arts promotion and it took until Friday night for UFC to clear it up.

"There was never a thought in my mind that Nate would cheat," said UFC president Dana White. "And I never doubted for a second that this fight wasn't going to happen. The team did a great job looking into this, and I'll see you guys in New York next Saturday."

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2019, with the headline ''All clear' for Diaz to fight Masvidal'. Print Edition | Subscribe