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Brian Kelleher doesn’t agree with USADA testing fighters for marijuana

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC bantamweight Brian Kelleher believes that it’s time that USADA stops punishing fighters for using marijuana.

Following Kelvin Gastelum’s second positive test for marijuana, Kelleher defended the one-time interim middleweight challenger, saying the substance does not have performance-enhancing effects.

“The way that people get caught, it’s very unfortunate, because I could’ve drank alcohol last night, and it’s out of my system the next day,” Kelleher, who faces Hunter Azure on Wednesday at UFC Jacksonville card, told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast. “It’s not like you’re drunk the next day.

“It’s the same thing with marijuana. I could’ve smoked two weeks ago, for sleep or recovery or whatever you use it for, and then it’s out of your system. It has zero performance enhancement any time moving forward, and you still get punished for it. I don’t agree with it. I think with PEDs, of course, they’re performance-enhancing, and you need to look for them. But with marijuana, they’re not up with the times.”

Kelleher believes that CBD - the non-psychoactive element of marijuana - holds most of the most substantial performance-enhancing elements of the substance. And with CBD being legal under the USADA guidelines, he doesn’t believe it’s right to punish fighters for using marijuana.

“They got CBD - that’s legal,” he said. “It’s part of the plant, and I know it doesn’t get you high or whatever. Everyone knows how the plant works, you feel something for an hour or whatever amount of time, and then it’s over. There’s no performance enhancement moving forward.

“The CBD is giving you those recovery benefits [with] the anti-inflammatory and the sleep properties it can have. It’s a natural thing, and it’s way better than taking any kind of pills in terms of side effects and stuff like that. [CBD] has enhancements and they have nothing to say about those side of things.”

Although “Boom” highlighted that most commissions give workable thresholds to use marijuana, he feels Gastelum was “unfortunate” to get punished.

“I don’t believe in them punishing people for it,” he said. “They have [the testing limit] at a threshold which is pretty high. Some commissions don’t have it as high, like Texas and New York; there it’s a little bit lower, so if you have smoked and you have a little more fat on your body, it attaches to the fat cells and you can fail the test. Meanwhile, it’s not even active in your system at that point. It’s unfortunate for Kelvin.”

Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Brian Kelleher interview begins at 1:40:00.

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