LOS ANGELES -- The new punishments for drug-test failures enacted by the Nevada Athletic Commission on Friday were the shots heard around the mixed martial arts world.
Effective in September, penalties across the board will increase dramatically. First-time offenders will receive 18 months for recreational drugs such as cannabis, 24 months for banned diuretics and stimulants, 36 months for anabolic steroids, and 48 months for refusal to comply with a drug tests. Each category progressively increases toward lifetimes bans for repeat offenders.
Response to the major changes has been mixed, with some feeling this is precisely the sort of message that needs to be sent, while others wonder if the commission overreached.
Two fighters who will compete in the Silver State this weekend, Daniel Cormier and Travis Browne, offered their takes on the new rules Monday. The duo, whose fights will be conducted under the old regulations at UFC 187 in Las Vegas on Saturday, have different takes on the new rules.
Cormier, who meets Anthony Johnson for the vacant UFC light heavyweight title in the main event, believes the commission did exactly what needs to be done.
"I think it's good," Cormier told MMAFighting.com on Monday. "You have to do something that discourages these guys from cheating, Half the time, guys will take risks if they know the penalty is not too steep."
"Imagine if a guy like Anderson made as much money as he made, and there was no penalty after making $5-6 million?" Cormier asked. "You have to make sure people know there is no tolerance for this type of stuff. There will be no tolerance for drugs of any kind. So yeah, I think it's great. It will scare these guys into, if you don't give a guy to make a way to earn, to make a living, then they will take notice and not make these mistakes."
Browne, who meets Andrei Arlovski on the UFC 187 main card, balks at the length of time involved in the suspension. He believes fighters should be hit hard in the wallet, but still allowed to make a living.
"A year is bad enough, if you want to send a message, I would say a financial message is harder," Browne said at a media luncheon held Monday. "You still allow the guy to fight, but, okay, 30-40 percent, I get it, getting fined 30-40 percent of your purse. But, two years out of the game, you're not fighting. Think about it. Most of these guys, if you took me out for two years right now, I would be 34 and trying to make a comeback."
Still, though, Browne understands that between the UFC getting serious about tackling its PED problems, and the implementation of the company's new Reebok apparel deal, the sport is in the middle of a transitional phase.
"Right now, people are whining and complaining about that Reebok thing," Browne said. "We're in that transition phase. This sport is still young. We're not like the NFL, the NBA, MLB. we're growing and we're in transition."