Dana White won't hide the fact that Jessica Eye didn't do herself any favors by deceiving everyone about testing positive for marijuana, but her 'illegal' limits in Texas would have been perfectly fine by WADA standards used in the Olympics.
It all started almost exactly two weeks ago when the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) sent a memo to a website notifying them that Eye’s win at UFC 166 over Sarah Kaufman had been changed to a no decision. There was no accompanying information as to why the change was made, but Eye and her manager claimed to have never been contacted by the commission about this happening.
Eye’s interviews following the news were all virtually the same with the Ohio fighter denying any wrongdoing and waiting for her day to stand before the commission and argue to get her win back. Rumors of prescribed medicines not disclosed prior to the fight started to flutter around, and Eye perpetuated those myths with the few words she did speak about the situation.
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She’s not media savvy, she’s scared, she didn’t know what she was going to get in trouble for or not in trouble for.
Then on Monday the roof fell in on the Ohio native.
The TDLR released the results from her drug test, which stated that she had tested positive for marijuana, was assessed a fine and a probated suspension. Not only that but Eye had signed off on the agreement waiving her right to an appeal on January 15 – a full two weeks before the no decision was handed down by the commission.
Eye was caught in a lie and there was no getting around it, but UFC president Dana White defended the fighter on Thursday saying that she honestly meant no harm in the matter. White knows that Eye got caught up in not telling the truth in one interview, and then it just spiraled downhill from there and before you know it a snowball turned into an avalanche.
"So let me explain the Jessica Eye situation – that thing popped up on my radar like the day it happened. I understand where you guys are coming from, but let me put you in her situation. She finally makes it in the UFC, the big stage, and first thing most of these people have never dealt with media at the level that they deal with now. Nobody ever cared what she said. She gets busted for weed," White said.
"So all this stuff starts happening, she starts panicking, she’s doing some radio show and the guy is asking her questions and she was scared. She didn’t know what she could say and couldn’t say, she didn’t want anybody to know. It’s just one of those situations. She’s not media savvy, she’s scared, she didn’t know what she was going to get in trouble for or not in trouble for."
As it turns out, Eye probably had a reason to be upset about the positive test in the first place. White revealed the testing levels for which Eye was busted for marijuana when competing in Texas. By state medical law, Texas is not allowed to disclose those amounts unless the athlete reveals them to the public or an appeal is heard by the state attorney’s office.
She blew it, she messed up, I don’t disagree at all.
"In Nevada (the legal limit) it’s 150 (ng/mL), she was 16 (ng/mL). Texas (limit) is 15 (ng/ML). So she was 16," White revealed.
Eye also confirmed the test results on Thursday with the numbers matching up with what White stated in his conversation with the media.
States set their own threshold for testing limits with drugs, but marijuana statutes have almost universally been changed across the board. Even WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency), the gold standard of testing in sports and who is responsible for setting the limits for athletes who compete in the Olympics raised their standard for marijuana last year to 150 ng/mL. The state of Nevada, another commission routinely looked at for drug testing in combat sports, also raised their limit for marijuana from 50 ng/ML to 150 ng/mL.
In other words, Texas has a limit set 10 times less than the recognized testing limit by both WADA and commissions in states such as Nevada. The limits in Texas are nearly five times less than the old standard that WADA used for several years before changing the policy last year.
Eye probably had every reason to be upset that she was popped for those low limits, and then the tests released with a statement only saying that she tested positive for marijuana. Unfortunately, her reaction and subsequent statements sunk her in the court of public opinion but White believes ultimately that’s the only thing she really did wrong.
"She blew it, she messed up, I don’t disagree at all," White said. "I’m just putting you in her shoes. When I talked to her she said ‘without a doubt the biggest learning lesson I’ve ever had’."