A closer look at Nick Diaz's failed tests with the Nevada State Athletic Commission

Nick Diaz and the Nevada State Athletic Commission are unlikely to reach a settlement regarding the fighter's failed drug test for marijuana metabolites, following a nontitle UFC fight against Anderson Silva on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas.

The two sides had discussed a potential settlement ahead of last week's NSAC meeting, but they were never close to reaching an agreement.

Nevada deputy attorney general Christopher Eccles told ESPN.com he believes the NSAC intends to hold a judiciary hearing before taking disciplinary action against Diaz. That hearing could take place during a scheduled meeting in June.

Diaz's attorney, Lucas Middlebrook, also said he expects the matter to go to a full disciplinary hearing -- and, depending on the outcome, possibly beyond.

"It seems to me that a resolution within the hearing process -- and possibly in the court system thereafter -- would really best serve all parties given the anomalies of the results and different methodologies used," Middlebrook said.

Diaz, 31, submitted three urine tests to the NSAC on Jan. 31, according to public documents. He was tested at 7:12 p.m., prior to the fight, and then twice postfight at 10:38 p.m. and 11:55 p.m. Diaz lost the five-round fight via decision.

The first and last tests were analyzed by the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) in Salt Lake City, which is accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Those tests came back negative for marijuana.

The middle test was analyzed at a different lab, Quest Diagnostics, and produced a level of metabolites in excess of 300 ng/mL, more than twice the allowed limit of 150 ng/mL.

Diaz's representatives have questioned the reasoning behind testing a fighter three times in one night, by two different methods. Although all three were urine tests, the labs use different guidelines when determining acceptable concentration levels. The WADA-approved method consists of reading specific gravity of samples, while Quest relies on creatinine levels.

"Creatinine is a protein found in urine that just happens to be a pretty good one to measure how concentrated the urine is," said Daniel Eichner, executive director of the SMRTL lab. "For whatever reason, drugs of abuse labs, like Quest, use that, while we use specific gravity. I don't want to argue about which is better or worse, that's just the way it is."

The Quest report registered a creatinine level of 168.4 mg/dL, which is virtually right in the middle of Quest's reference range of 20-to-370 mg/dL.

The SMRTL tests produced specific gravity readings of 1.003 and 1.006. According to Eichner, "ideal" specific gravity for a urine sample is approximately 1.020. A reading of 1.000 indicates water.

"We can take it a little more diluted than that, but that's what is ideal," Eichner said. "Obviously, we don't want a sample that is too dilute. It's hard to find levels of what you're looking for. Ideally, we try to make sure nothing is diluted more than 1.008."

Although Diaz's tests produced a less-than=ideal specific gravity, they aren't dismissive for that reason alone. The NSAC has accepted urine tests in the past with specific gravities lower than what Diaz produced.

The NSAC seems prepared to argue, however, that the only thing that matters in this case is the one failed test. The fact Diaz happened to produce two clean tests on the same night is actually irrelevant.

"From our point of view, he would have tested negative all three times had he not used the prohibited substance," Eccles said.

As to why Diaz was tested three times and in different methods, NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar attributed it to the commission's "exuberance" for a clean contest. Diaz was also blood-tested for performance-enhancing drugs the night of the fight.

"I think it was just a natural operational procedure that took place that night by our staff," Aguilar said.

Diaz (26-10) is likely facing a suspension of at least one year, as this would mark his third marijuana-related offense in the state of Nevada.

The NSAC suspended him one year and fined him $60,000 for his second offense, which occurred during a post-fight test on Feb. 4, 2012. Diaz has previously stated in open court he is a licensed medical marijuana user in California, but he did not disclose any marijuana use in his pre-fight questionnaire for the Silva fight.

During last week's meeting, the NSAC unanimously approved sweeping amendments to its guidelines regarding suspensions and fine amounts for drug-related offenses.

Although those amendments, once they go into effect, only apply to future violations, they offer insight into what the commission currently views as appropriate. Based on the new guidelines, a third-time offender for marijuana would be subject to a three-year suspension and a fine of 60-75 percent of his or her purse. According to public record, Diaz's purse for the Silva fight was $500,000.