By Zach Arnold | August 6, 2007
By Zach Arnold
After reading this LA Times article tonight, I expect there to be quite a bit of outrage on the MMA forums over the treatment Hermes Franca received from the California State Athletic Commission today in comparison to James Toney.
Toney was suspended by the CSAC earlier this year after testing positive for two steroids, including the steroid boldenone (which I chronicled in a recent CBS Sportsline article) — a horse steroid.
Franca’s year-long suspension was upheld by the CSAC, but bizarrely Toney’s suspension was reduced from a full year to six months. The rationale behind the reduced suspension, in a word, stinks.
When Commissioner Julio Ramirez suggested Toney receive a reduced 120-day suspension, Giza motioned for the full year to be upheld, adding, “Modifications require clear rationale.” Ramirez admitted he was swayed by Toney’s 78-fight career to give the boxer the “benefit of the doubt,” to which Giza argued, “So, you’re saying any athlete with a high profile,” gains a suspension reduction? Ramirez answered no.
Commissioner Peter Lopez then suggested a 180-day suspension for Toney, which will expire toward the end of November, and six commissioners voted to approve it, with only Giza voting no.
Lopez is an entertainment attorney appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Lopez has made political donations in the past (information here).
Julio Ramirez Jr. is a political appointee of Fabian Núñez (aka Fabio Núñez — whose name recently surfaced in a scandal involving Mirthala Salinas and LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) and is associated with The Blackstone Group (an asset managing company) and The Park Hill Group. Political donation information here.
The reason I mention the backgrounds of these individuals is because this information is the first to pop up in any top search engine. Political scandals come in all shapes, sizes, and unfortunately all parties.
There’s no other way to put it, other than to state that Toney’s reduced suspension makes the commissioners look like a bunch of fanboys. It’s a terrible message to send to the public. It’s an even worse message to send to fighters who fail drug tests. As a fighter, why worry about getting suspended for a year when you know a fanboy will get you off the hook in six months?
If you live in California and want to file a complaint against the commissioners, here’s the form to use.
There’s an important lesson for all of us to learn with this unfortunate story. The lesson for both the fans and the media is to stay vigilant, always attend your state athletic commission meetings, and report what happens at the meetings. I hope those of you in the Oklahoma City area show up for this Wednesday’s commission meeting. The more public information there is about what takes place at SAC meetings, the more transparent the process will become and the easier it will be to expose really shameful behavior.