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To say Mike Tyson is familiar with marijuana is to say he knows a thing or two about boxing.

After fighting Roy Jones Jr. in an exhibition in 2020, Tyson said he used marijuana the day of the fight. He openly smoked marijuana on all 275-or-so episodes of his podcast, “Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson.” He not only consumes cannabis but also sells it – his own brand, in fact, Tyson 2.0.

So at 57, Tyson apparently is trying something he might find harder than fighting a man 30 years younger than he is.

The former heavyweight champion, who has said he uses marijuana daily, has given up the drug while training for his boxing match against Jake Paul, 27, set for July 20 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, according to Joann Mignano, Tyson’s publicist.

“He only stopped as a means of following all of the rules,’’ Mignano told USA TODAY Sports by email, “but he is still a strong advocate for the medicinal benefits of cannabis for his personal well-being and others like him.’’

Marijuana is on the list of banned substances used by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), which regulates combat sports in Texas. A failed drug test results in an automatic 90-day suspension, a fine and if the winner of the fight tests positive, the outcome is changed to “No Decision.”

More drugs and more rules

Tyson also has said he’s used “mushrooms,” a psychedelic drug, before fights. This would be a no-no in Texas.

“Use of any pharmacological substance that is not approved for human therapeutic use is prohibited,” said Tela Mange, communications manager for the TDLR.

Mignano indicated Tyson will be in full compliance with the rules.

A failed drug test would not jeopardize the proposed fight between Tyson and Paul, Mange indicated. That’s because the drug tests, which are random, are conducted only on the day of a fight and results are unavailable for at least a week, according to Mange.

But fighters have been disqualified for refusing to submit a prefight drug test – something Tyson did at least once during his pro career – or fail to follow the drug-testing process.

In Texas, drug testing does not take place before an exhibition. It’s still unclear if the fight between Tyson and Paul will be an exhibition or pro fight.

Mike Tyson has been sanctioned for marijuana

In 2001, Tyson was suspended for 90 days and fined after testing positive for marijuana following his fight against Andrew Golota. (He’d refused to take a prefight drug test.) Later that year, Tyson said he should have smoked his entire pro boxing career, which ended in 2005.

Since retirement, especially in recent years, Tyson has smoked marijuana openly while becoming a cannabis entrepreneur. The name of his podcast (“Hotboxin'” launched in 2019) refers to smoking marijuana in an enclosed area, and he regularly fired up joints in a smoke-filled studio. On one episode, Tyson said he’d used a “Whizzinator,” a fake penis, and urine from his wife and then-infant to pass drug tests.

On March 20, almost two weeks after the Tyson-Paul fight was announced, Tyson posted a video on social media saying he had recorded the final episodes of his podcast. The footage of him hotboxing ended at the same time he released a video of training for the fight.

“I don’t think I’ll be smoking for this fight, and I think I’m going to be really, really irritable and nasty,’’ Tyson said April 2 on Fox News in his first public comments about the issue. “… Normally I do. But for this particular fight, I think I’m going to go raw and naked.’’

Texas is an exception with drug testing

Most states have stopped testing fighters for marijuana since its legalization has spread, said Mike Mazzuli, president of the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports.

One of the exceptions is Texas, which according to the Marijuana Policy Project is one of only 19 states that still jails people for possession of small amounts of cannabis.

Last year, lightweight boxing prospect Keyshawn Davis was suspended 90 days in Texas after he tested positive for marijuana, according to ESPN, which cited the boxer’s promoter, Top Rank Boxing.

The threshold for a positive marijuana test for combat sports in Texas is 50 ng/ml. THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, can be detected for days or longer after a one-time use, according to Margaret Goodman, a neurologist and founder the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

“So detection in a lab test of THC may indicate prior use, but not relevant current use,” Goodman said by email.

In boxing, state licensing rules typically apply because there is no commission that uniformly regulates the sport, said Travis Tygart, CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

For instance, there was no talk of Tyson giving up marijuana during training for his exhibition fight in 2020 in Los Angeles. He passed a drug test the day of the fight but was not tested for marijuana, said Andy Foster, executive director of the California State Athletic Commission.

Marijuana is legal for medicinal and recreational use in California, and Foster said the commission does not test fighters for the drug before all fights. But Foster said Tyson was tested for “hard drugs” and he complied with all rules.

For USADA’s program for the Olympics and Paralympics, which includes boxers, marijuana is tested for in-competition only, and USADA policy is the World Anti-Doping Agency Code. USADA uses a threshold of 150 ng/ml. A positive test can result in a suspension for up to two years and as little as one month if the person participates in a counseling program, Tygart said.

In USADA’s pro sport programs, there is no automatic violation for a positive test unless performance is impacted or health and safety are endangered, according to Tygart.

Will there be extra testing for Tyson-Paul fight?

VADA, which offers independent drug testing for boxing and MMA, was used for Paul’s boxing match against Nate Diaz that took place in August in Texas, according to Goodman, the VADA founder.

Bryce Holden, who is the promoter of the Tyson-Paul fight, was the promoter for the Diaz-Paul fight. He declined to say whether there would be a contract with VADA or any drug testing beyond what the TDLR conducts. But Holden did address Tyson’s well-documented use of marijuana and it being on the list of banned substances in Texas.

“I mean, look, we’re in communication with the camps,” he said. “And obviously at the end of the day, we’re also in communication with the commission (overseeing boxing) weekly, daily. So I’m not concerned about it.”

TDLR conducts only day-of-event testing and tests for marijuana, while VADA does both out-of-competition and day-of testing but does not test for marijuana. Goodman said VADA stopped testing for marijuana soon after the company was founded in 2011.

Echoing a widespread sentiment in sports, Goodman said marijuana is “not a substance that’s going to enhance anybody’s performance.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Mike Tyson giving up marijuana as he trains for Jake Paul bout. Why?

Read the full article here

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