By Zach Arnold | September 2, 2012
I’ve had many people ask me why I haven’t devoted more time recently investigating Keith Kizer and the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The truth is that there is so much going on in California, a state that has as twice as many shows happening as any other in America, I only have enough time and resources to focus on one mess that needs to be cleaned up. You know how extensive our investigation into the state of affairs in California has been.
However, don’t come away with the impression that we have a lack of interest in what’s happening with the mess that Keith Kizer has created in Nevada. Trust me, there is no more single infuriating regulatory figurehead in combat sports than Keith Kizer.
Keith Kizer is a man who says that testosterone usage for muscular fighters should not be viewed as a scarlet letter. The reality is that there isn’t a bigger drug enabler in combat sports today than Keith Kizer, the man who grants hall passes to fighters so that they can use testosterone, the base chemical of anabolic steroids. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out just how dangerous testosterone usage can be in combat sports and what the main reasons for usage are. The majority of fighters who are begging for testosterone hall passes are doing so because of previous or current steroid usage or because of brain damage from concussions.
What makes Kizer’s public stance about testosterone usage so offensive is how much he regards testosterone usage as an entitlement to fighters in combat sports. He actually uses the word entitled or entitlement when discussing fighters using testosterone. It’s really a remarkable admission of shamelessness on the part of a regulator who is one accident, one death away in a Nevada-regulated fight from getting his pants sued off for millions of dollars due to issues of strict liability.
This man is a lawyer who worked at the Nevada AG office.
We discussed in our recent California report about the legal classification for combat sports and how that classification means that the current piss-poor regulatory practices we’re seeing in California and Nevada is leaving these states vulnerable to lawsuits. Even worse, the regulators involved know that they are engaged in risky behavior and haven’t changed their ways.
Kizer’s stance regarding drug testing is pretty simple. He believes only in the drug testing Nevada does as the #1 barometer for drug testing and that any external drug testing from agencies like USADA or VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency) is supplemental window dressing. He also has a real vendetta against Dr. Margaret Goodman, who formerly worked for the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Every time Kizer tries to make some wise crack in an interview against VADA or Dr. Goodman, he shows his ass and beclowns himself to an embarrassing degree. Like, when he admits that VADA testing catches fighters cheating while Nevada testing doesn’t because they don’t use Carbon Isotope Ratio testing unless a fighter fails a standard urine test in the first place.
What makes Kizer such a detestable figurehead in combat sports is just how vacuous he is when he talks. He is the classic example of a man who thinks he’s smarter than he really is and yet is too oblivious to the mistakes he makes when he talks. And when he barely gets challenged on a factual basis, he squeals like a pig. Ask Mauro Ranallo. In Keith Kizer’s world, marijuana is a performance enhancer but testosterone is A-OK. Under his administration, marijuana users get punished harder and scolded while testosterone users are patted on the back and told that they are entitled to use the drug.
No one has a bigger legacy of enabling the proliferation of testosterone usage in MMA under the guise of regulatory approval than Keith Kizer. That is his personal & professional legacy for the rest of his life. And if you think he has any clue as to why he should be frightened by his legacy, this recent interview is proof positive that he is still lacking in self-awareness about the Pandora’s Box he has now opened up.
In a recent interview for the new web site Fight Medicine, Kizer admits that the testosterone hall passes being granted to fighters in both boxing & Mixed Martial Arts are being granted by a doctor that is not an endocrinologist.
When you do review TUEs, who’s on the board that reviews these exemptions? Are there ringside doctors or endocrinologists (hormone specialists) on the committee?
We have a consulting physician who does all of our medical information. Timothy Trainor’s his name. So he does all that stuff, and he’s the consulting physician for the Commission. What he does is he’ll go out and review the information. He’ll talk to experts in the field if it’s something beyond his basic level of practice or knowledge. And so he’ll have his consultants and specialists he’ll talk to, in this case endocrinologists or something along those lines, that helps him in these issues.
There’s also a broader policy type issue. We have a medical advisory board or medical advisory panel, which we have doctors with various different specialties that come onboard and, again, if it’s something that doesn’t fall within one of their specialties, we’ll invite other experts in the field – specialists in the field – to come and testify before the panel.
Dr. Timothy Trainor is an orthopedic doctor, as in a doctor that deals with bones & tissue. He’s not an endocrinologist. The fact that anyone in the Nevada AG’s office or the state’s Department of Business & Industry thinks that it’s a good idea legally to allow an orthopedic doctor to grant hall passes for testosterone usage is absolutely crazy. These people are out of their minds.
Earlier, we mentioned Kizer’s obsession with trashing Margaret Goodman. Here’s a perfect example of how Kizer tries to go after not only VADA but anyone in the media supporting better drug testing.
Translation: The writers are just a bunch of sock puppets.
But they have the supplemental testing, whether it’s done by USADA (United States Anti-doping Association, a branch of WADA) or VADA or somebody else, that’s something for the contracting parties to decide. But I definitely would be in favor of any additional drug testing that the applicable parties want to do. But I’m not endorsing anybody. I know USADA and VADA have had their war of words with each other because they both want that dollar from the promoters. And they both have their PR people masquerading as journalists in the press or in the blogs pushing for them. I make it easy. You want to do a fight here in Nevada? You have to come through the Commission and we’re going to do any test we want to do. If you don’t like it, you’re not fighting here. It’s very easy. There, they have to fight it out, a peer battle and put each other down and put other people down and try to get that buck, that ever important buck. We don’t have to do that. So I just want to make it clear that we’re not endorsing anybody.
Next, Kizer goes back to his old routine about the T/E ratio, which is really only one barometer to use for standard urine testing.
And the six to one, of course, came from what? That’s what WADA has used for most of its existence. Most of the time they’ve been doing T/E ratios, they have used six to one. You don’t want to brand someone as a cheater. You don’t want these false positives. To me, a false positive is a lot worse than a false negative. It’s the whole thing about sending an innocent man to jail or a guilty man going free.
WADA uses 4:1 now, which leaves only a little room for false positives. A small window, at best. However, what the VADA testing in the Lamont Peterson case exposed is that you don’t need a high T/E ratio to be caught cheating. VADA uses Carbon Isotope Ratio testing, which is the same standard that Nevada uses only in the appeals process when a fighter flunks a weaker drug test. If that reads as hypocritical to you on Nevada’s part, it is. It was the CIR test that revealed Peterson had been microdosing on testosterone with pellets.
In the grand scheme of things, focusing singularly on the T/E ratio is like being distracted by a shiny object.
Incredibly, Kizer defends his drug testing protocols by citing… California!
I know I talked with the California Commission. They went from six to one to four to one about two years ago. When I checked with their recently departed executive officer a couple of months ago, I said, “How many guys did you get – that you test – that fell between four to one and six to one on their T/E ratio?” And he said, “Keith, absolutely nobody. Of the hundreds we tested, nobody.”
Of course you’re not going to catch every cheater who knows how to skate under the 4:1 ratio. Just ask Lamont Peterson. The idea that Kizer would cite California’s drug testing protocols after what happened recently at the Strikeforce show in San Diego just blows my mind.
The icing on the cake from Kizer, unfortunately, is this gem about more stringent drug testing protocols:
It’s funny, if you ask the people making the argument to test everyone why they don’t do it themselves, they won’t answer you because their answer is, they don’t have the resources to do that. I don’t know any drug testing group that tests every athlete in their jurisdiction every week. You can’t. You can’t. And if you could, it wouldn’t be fair to the athletes to do that. But you do what you can with your resources, and obviously, we do very a good job with ours.
It’s done in tennis, where you’re required to notify drug testing authorities where you are located and at what time.
What makes Kizer’s act so tired and played out is that he keeps barking about how testosterone usage can be harmful in combat sports and yet says that athletes should be entitled to using it. It always comes back to this axiom – if testosterone didn’t enhance your performance, then nobody would be using it. If Kizer believes so strongly in WADA standards, then why doesn’t Nevada actually use them? Only a few athletes in the history of the Olympics have ever been granted hall passes for testosterone, including one individual who had a missing testicle. That’s how high the bar is in order to get a TUE.
If you’re a steroid user, testosterone usage allows you to double-dip and gives you more physical strength to inflict head trauma against your opponent. If you suffer from brain damage due to concussions, testosterone lets you continue fighting and absorb more head trauma which results in more brain damage.
Apparently to Keith Kizer, selling out the health & safety of fighters is worth justifying his $86,000 a year salary. I wonder what kind of price tag a jury in a courtroom would put on a fighter who gets severely injured, paralyzed, or killed at the hands of an opponent who is a testosterone user. I suspect the price tag for a verdict would be more than $86,000. I pray that this scenario doesn’t happen but the environment has unfortunately been fostered for an incident like this to occur down the road. That is the legacy of Keith Kizer in the combat sports landscape. He’s just lucky that the mainstream press doesn’t take combat sports as seriously as they do baseball. Otherwise, every new fighter being granted a testosterone hall pass from Nevada would be getting chewed out like Melky Cabrera or Bartolo Colon.
Baseball players who use testosterone are trying to hit a baseball as hard as they can. Boxers & MMA fighters who use testosterone are trying to concuss their opponent as hard as they can and inflict trauma to the brain. You tell me which scenario should require more scrutiny when it comes to testosterone usage. You tell me which scenario is a bigger red flag in terms of legal consequences. You tell me which scenario is more likely to cause someone to get legitimately hurt and end someone’s career.