The UFC has announced it will no longer punish fighters who test positive for THC in a major change to its anti-doping policy.

Instead, fighters will only be penalised if the mixed martial arts promotion believes they used THC to intentionally enhance performance.

All other cannabinoids are no longer prohibited substances.

UFC senior vice president of athlete health and performance Jeff Novitzky said fighters will still not be allowed to compete under the influence, but acknowledged they often use cannabis for pain management or relaxation.

Novitzky added: “The bottom line is that in regard to marijuana, we care about what an athlete consumed the day of a fight, not days or weeks before a fight, which has often been the case in our historic positive THC cases.

“UFC athletes will still be subject to marijuana rules under various athletic commission regulations, but we hope this is a start to a broader discussion and changes on this issue with that group.”

While the UFC’s decision doesn’t affect the rules of state athletic commissions and international governing bodies, they often follow promoters’ leads on anti-doping policy.