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Chael Sonnen calls Nick Diaz's suspension a lifetime ban: 'We're owed an explanation'

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The suspension might have a limitation. But Chael Sonnen doesn't foresee Nick Diaz fighting again once his five-year suspension handed down by the Nevada Athletic Commission is up.

Diaz would be 36 years old in 2020 when the ban would be lifted. Five years in MMA is a veritable eternity.

"I wish there would be some kind of explanation," Sonnen told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "When a guy stubs his toe and Nick did -- Nick's wrong here -- but there is a question of, how wrong was he? What kind of violation is this? Was this a lifetime ban? You can call it five years, but as you know, that's a lifetime ban in this sport."

NAC commissioner Pat Lundvall actually first motioned for a lifetime ban for Diaz before fellow commissioner Anthony Marnell said he wouldn't be comfortable with it.

Diaz was suspended for a third marijuana offense last month. However, he also passed two drug tests on the night of Jan. 31 at UFC 183, failing one. The two negative test results came from a lab accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA); the positive test did not. The commissioners did not discuss that -- or really any other evidence -- during deliberations. Diaz was also accused of lying on a pre-fight questionnaire when he said he had not taken any drugs or medications in the last 30 days.

Diaz's attorney Lucas Middlebrook plans on filing a petition for judicial review, which would get the case in front of a judge. A similar situation recently occurred with MMA legend Wanderlei Silva, who was handed a lifetime suspension last year for evading a drug test. Silva will be in front of the NAC again this month after a judge found a lifetime ban to be "capricious" and "arbitrary."

"We've already seen Wanderlei have some success," Sonnen said. "I don't think Nick's would be any different."

Sonnen is under suspension himself for failing drug tests for multiple performance-enhancing drugs. The retired former UFC standout admitted his use in front of the NAC last July. His suspension will be up this summer.

"They've got a really wide scope," Sonnen said of the commission. "That has to be understood. People are saying they're out of their lane here. I think that's gonna be for a judge to decide."

At the very least, Sonnen wants the NAC to explain itself. He doesn't think Diaz gained anything here in the way of knowledge of why what he did was so wrong that it could prevent him from ever making a living fighting again.

"We need to be able to at least have a teaching moment," Sonnen said. "I need to least be able to go to guys and go, 'Look, don't do this' and tell them why. I'm not sure Diaz could have that conversation right now. I think right now if he was talking to a group of people I think maybe he's a little confused. We're owned an explanation. That's fair."

Even if Diaz does get the suspension overturned, there's no telling how long it would take. He has already missed 10 months in a sport where there is a very small window to make money.

"When you kick that can down the road, that suspension is in place," Sonnen said. "There's no retroactive way for him to recoup the time lost here, whether it was just time or even the monetary damages. There's not a lot of power an athlete has."

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