Commission cuts fine against Julio Cesar Chavez for smoking pot

That $900,000 joint Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. smoked last year got a lot cheaper Friday.

The Nevada Athletic Commission reduced the former WBC middleweight champion’s fine to $100,000 for testing positive for marijuana following his 12-round loss to Sergio Martinez on Sept. 15 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

As a repeat offender of the commission’s drug policy — Chavez Jr. had tested positive for diuretics in 2009 — he was punished harshly by the commission Feb. 28.

But Chavez Jr.’s attorneys, Don Campbell and Colby Williams, argued the excessive fine violated the boxer’s constitutional rights and negotiated with the NAC to reduce it.

“A public body like this is to be applauded for going back and revisiting and reconsidering what transpired,” Campbell said after the commission voted unanimously to levy the lesser fine.

As part of the original punishment, Chavez Jr. also was suspended for nine months. He has served that penalty and will return to the ring Sept. 7 against Brian Vera at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Chavez Jr., 27, did not attend Friday’s meeting.

In mid-April, Campbell had filed paperwork in District Court, claiming the fine violated Chavez Jr.’s rights under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Sixth Amendment of the Nevada Constitution.

On May 11, the World Anti-Doping Agency revised its policies and testing rules regarding marijuana. Shortly thereafter, NAC chairman Bill Brady contacted Campbell to revisit the commission’s original $900,000 fine against Chavez Jr.

“Once WADA changed their regulations, we realized it was excessive and we wanted to make it right,” Brady said.

With the help of Nevada Deputy Attorney General Vivienne Rakowsky, the NAC and Chavez’s legal team came to an agreement.

“In talking and negotiating, we felt $100,000 was a reasonable compromise,” said Brady, who added that it would have cost Chavez Jr. about $250,000 to see the case through in court.

The decision also could lead to changes in the way the NAC administers penalties for drug violations. Reno commissioner Skip Avansino would like to see a tiered system of penalties that would vary in severity depending on the drug.

“I think it’s time for us to look at various ranges of prohibited substances,” Avansino said. “Diuretics are not the same as steroids.”

The NAC’s Health and Safety Committee will look at creating a tiered system and guidelines for the commissioners to use in disciplinary cases. Brady said he thinks Friday’s action was a sample of what can be expected in the future.

Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Chavez Jr.’s promoter throughout his career, said he was glad the matter was revisited and hopes it will lead to marijuana not being a banned substance on any level.

“This was a good step in the right direction,” Arum said. “But I’m still of the opinion that the commission has no business doing anything to someone with a trace of marijuana in their system.”

Still, don’t look for the NAC to allow boxers to smoke pot.

“We’re not going to throw it out,” Brady said. “We’re going to follow WADA.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.