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Chavez’s fine reduced for positive marijuana test

Fighters Network

On Friday the Nevada State Athletic Commission reduced the fine it had initially levied on former WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. from $900,000 to $100,000. The commission voted for the orginal amount in February along with a nine-month suspension as a result of Chavez testing positive for marijuana following his unanimous-decision loss to RING champion Sergio Martinez last September in Las Vegas.

Chavez, who earned $3 million for the bout, completed the term of his suspension June 15, and must also produce a clean urine sample to the NSAC prior to his next fight, in accordance with the ruling.

The new deal was was worked out between Nevada attorney Vivienne Rakowsky and Chavez’s Las Vegas-based lawyers, Colby Williams and Don Campbell of the Campbell and Williams law firm.

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, who was angered by the commission’s initial penalty against Chavez, called the move “a compromise.”

“Realizing the weakness of their position, the lawyers for the commission and the commission contacted our attorneys to resolve the matter without litigation, and, today, what happened is the result of that compromise. It’s a compromise, and it’s a compromise that I’m glad that the commission made,” said Arum.

“But am I happy with it? No. I’m not happy with it. I don’t think that there should have been any fine at all. I don’t think that there should be any penalty for smoking marijuana or using marijuana 10 days before a fight. I don’t think that’s a crime. I don’t think that the commission should be involved in that, and so I thought that there should be no penalty, very frankly.”

According to Yahoo!Sports, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) implemented a higher threshold for a positive test in regard to marijuana use on May 12. Three days after that, Campbell contacted Rakowsky to contend that the new standard be applied to Chavez.

“WADA changed its rules on what is a positive drug test for marijuana. So since this case still was ongoing, we had the ability to revisit it,” said NSAC executive director Keith Kizer. “So they changed Chavez’s fine to $100,000, and he was still faced with his nine-month suspension, which he has served with distinction, which we appreciate.”

Arum still had more to say.

“My opinion is that, as far as I’m concerned, is that including marijuana as a prohibited drug, particularly marijuana taken before the competition, and outside of the competition, is something that is not correct. It’s abhorrent, and it’s something that the country and everybody is changing. I’m not unhappy, because it’s over and it’s finished, and I understand the situation. It’s a compromise, and now, it’s over and on to the next thing,” said Arum.

“But I’m talking about the future. As far as the future is concerned, the commission should adopt a policy similar to WADA’s policy, that unless the marijuana is used in competition, it is not a prohibited substance. That’s what they’ve said. I believe that marijuana should be decriminalized, and I believe that states should be permitted to allow sales of marijuana, legally, but, again, Chavez is a fighter, and he’s not a crusader, and you can’t expect him to be.”

In January, Chavez’s attorneys had requested that the fighter be suspended for no more than six months and fined no more than $10,000.

“The initial penalty against Chavez of $900,000 ranked as the second largest fine ever in our history, the other being Mike Tyson’s $3 million for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear,” according to Kizer. “The old record for No. 2 was $200,000 against Bernard Hopkins when he pushed Winky Wright at the weigh-in.”

Chavez will face Bryan Vera (23-6, 14 KOs) on Sept. 7 at The Staples Center in Los Angeles, Arum said.

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]