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Tim Elliott, Jamahal Hill face NAC suspensions for marijuana after UFC on ESPN 9

UFC Fight Night: Elliott v Benoit Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

UFC fighters Tim Elliott and Jamahal Hill face extended suspensions after testing positive for marijuana following UFC on ESPN 9.

Elliott and Hill will go before the Nevada Athletic Commission on Wednesday for a hearing on a temporary suspension initially put in place after the positive tests. The fighters face fines, a longer suspension, and the possible overturning of their wins at the May 30 event at UFC APEX.

A person with knowledge of Hill’s positive test confirmed the news to MMA Fighting after an initial report from ESPN. Elliott issued a statement Tuesday morning.

NAC disciplinary actions are often mirrored by the UFC’s anti-doping partner, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. But USADA doesn’t announce pending cases, so it’s impossible to know the fighters’ status.

In 2015, the NAC approved harsher punishments that included an 18-month suspension for first-time marijuana infractions. In recent years, however, the commission has treated it as a low-level offense, issuing six-month terms to fighters who’ve tested positive.

In 2017, the commission debated the idea of removing marijuana positives as an anti-doping infraction. Current NAC Chair Anthony Marnell supported a higher threshold for positive tests – 150 ng/ml, up from 50 ng/ml – implemented in 2013 in response to new guidelines issued by the World Anti-Doping Agency, though he anticipated the legalization of recreational marijuana could cause future issues.

“I didn’t want to be in a position where we have fighters before us, because it will come, that [marijuana] is legal now, so this 150 ng/ml [threshold] is no longer legal,” he said. “You can see the controversy coming.”

The new threshold was thought to address changing attitudes and usage on medicinal and recreational use and high enough that it would be harder for athletes to fail. The commission ignited a huge controversy when it issued Nick Diaz a five-year suspension for his third marijuana infraction. The commission later reached a settlement of 18 months.

One-time title challenger Elliott was submitted by Brandon Royval at UFC on ESPN 9, while Hill stopped Klidson Abreu via first-round TKO.

Also on a list of temporary suspensions to be addressed on Wednesday are Luis Pena and Marc-Andre Barriault. Details on their suspensions are unknown. Pena tweeted prior to the fight that he wanted to find a marijuana dispensary to celebrate after his appearance at UFC on ESPN 4.

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