Though too late to help Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., his positive test for marijuana a year ago wound up bringing about change in the Nevada Athletic Commission’s rules on the drug.
On Wednesday, the NAC voted unanimously to raise the threshold level for a positive test by fighters from 50 to 150 nanograms per milliliter. The World Anti-Doping Agency adopted similar standards regarding marijuana last spring.
The new level goes into effect immediately.
“It’s more of a fairness issue,” NAC executive director Keith Kizer said. “This will make marijuana more in line with similar recreational drugs we test for like cocaine, amphetamines and opiates.”
Chavez tested positive following his Sept. 15, 2012, loss to Sergio Martinez at the Thomas &Mack Center. His level at the time was above 50 ng/ml but below 150. On Feb. 28, the NAC suspended him for nine months and fined him $900,000. Chavez’s attorneys filed suit against the commission, and on June 28 the fine was reduced to $100,000 after a negotiated settlement with the Nevada Attorney General’s office that the athletic commission unanimously approved.
The commission acted after hearing from Drs. Timothy Trainor and Anthony Ruggeroli, who serve on the NAC’s Steroid and Drug Testing Advisory Panel. No action was taken on changing the standards on steroids, diuretics or other PEDs.
■ REMEMBERING MORRISON — Former world heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison will go down as a talented but troubled fighter, a heavyweight with a powerful left hook and a penchant for finding trouble.
Morrison, who died last Sunday in Omaha, Neb., at age 44, saw his career short-circuited when he tested positive for the HIV virus in 1996 and the Nevada Athletic Commission revoked his license, canceling his fight with Arthur “Stormy” Weathers at the MGM Grand hours before they were scheduled to meet in the ring.
Morrison, who defeated Hall of Famer George Foreman in 1993 and had a record of 48-3-1 with 42 knockouts, fought two more times after the HIV diagnosis — once in West Virginia, the other in Mexico — before calling it a career in 2008.
Did the NAC do the right thing banning Morrison? According to former executive director Marc Ratner, absolutely.
“(NAC chairman) Dr. (Elias) Ghanem was very concerned about HIV at the time, and you couldn’t fight without a blood test,” Ratner said. “(Morrison) was very reluctant to have his blood tested before he fought, and when Dr. Ghanem saw the results from his blood test and he was positive for HIV, we had to pull him off the card. The rules were the rules.”
And while Arizona cleared Morrison to fight in 2002 after Morrison claimed he was free of the virus, Nevada refused to budge, and the ban remained in effect.
“He never reapplied,” Ratner said. “There really wasn’t a choice. Too many people could have been put at risk, and we couldn’t take that chance.”
■ MGM CARD — There will be more boxing at the MGM Grand this week with Golden Boy Promotions putting on a fight card Thursday in the hotel’s Grand Ballroom.
In the main event, Shawn Porter (21-0-1, 14 KOs) will face Julio Diaz (40-8-1, 29 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight bout that is a rematch of their Dec. 15 fight in Los Angeles that was ruled a draw. In the co-feature, Badou Jack (15-0, 10 KOs) meets Marco Antonio Periban (20-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round super middleweight bout. Fox Sports 1 will televise the card.
■ NEW CHIEF INSPECTOR — The NAC promoted Alejandro Ybarra to chief inspector. Ybarra, who has been an inspector since 1997, replaces Tony Lato, who stepped down at the end of May after 25 years of working for the commission, the past 13 as chief inspector, and widely was respected by fighters, trainers and managers for his work behind the scenes.
Gilbert Montoya was hired as an inspector to take Ybarra’s spot.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.