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« | Home | »

The California State Athletic Commission is openly losing & manipulating fighter paperwork

By Zach Arnold | September 6, 2012

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When we last checked in about the California State Athletic Commission and the Department of Consumer Affairs, we discussed how the “3 inspector policy” at California combat sports shows is creating havoc as far as enforcing issues connected to health & safety. With the few inspectors on the ground at shows not enforcing the rules or regulations, chaos has ensued and cheating is exploding.

A few days before that article, we wrote an extensive prediction article regarding what state auditors would find once they start digging into the activities in the Sacramento office of CSAC. Not only would auditors likely discover that most inspectors working for the commission can’t manage a box office (costing the state upwards in 7 figures of missing revenue), they can’t even manage basic rules of safety for fighters who participate at shows throughout the state of California. If you can’t run a box office and you can’t ensure the health & safety of the competitors, what’s the point of your existence?

After our most recent articles, we assumed that there would be some reaction to what we presented. Throughout the boxing & MMA industries, promoters & fighters are genuinely appalled at what is going on in California. They are, simply put, taken aback. And with good reason. The Department of Consumer Affairs, led by Denise Brown and Awet Kidane, acknowledge that fraud is taking place under their noses and are refusing to fix the situation. They refuse to fire the individuals involved in shady & criminal activity. Workers in the CSAC front office no longer take any threats seriously and reportedly are laughing off any sort of analysis about their execrable behavior.

Is there anything that might change the mood of the powers-that-be at Consumer Affairs? Yes, when state auditors discover what we just discovered in research regarding the way the Sacramento office manages & processes licensing and medical paperwork for fighters.

The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing

In our August 28th article predicting what state auditors will find at CSAC, we noted that the Sacramento office is months behind in reporting results & medical suspensions (in some cases) to both Fight Fax and ABC (the Association of Boxing Commissions). As you might imagine, this creates a dangerous scenario and makes the job of enforcing medical suspensions that much more difficult for other state athletic commissions.

From the 8/28 article:

From all accounts, paperwork issues are a nightmare at the CSAC office. We’ve had multiple sources indicate to us that licensing & medical paperwork gets lost frequently. I predict that the auditors will find that some of the paperwork has been post-dated.

In addition to losing their own paperwork, CSAC is months behind in reporting results to agencies like Fight Fax and the Association of Boxing Commissions. With cuts to staffing in the front office, I don’t see this situation improving any time soon with the current crew in Sacramento. Plus, if you have people in the front office who are also working as show inspectors, that means they aren’t around the office all the time and thus aren’t 100% focused on handling the business duties.

Remember, the process for medical records & licensing isn’t computerized. It’s 2012 and we’re still talking about everything being done on paper here. You have licensees who pay the same day to get licensed. Is the money being collected properly at events and, if so, is it being compared to the number of licenses issued? I think it’s safe to predict that the auditors will find some discrepancies here. If Sacramento is not auditing the show package, who would know?

The person getting licensed writes a check, the check number is written on the application, and the check is stapled to the application. If the licensee wants to pay cash or check, the inspector is required to write a receipt for the money received. That is not always done and the only way you can find that out is if Sacramento compared the licenses in the event package to the cash that was received. If Sacramento was auditing the event packages like they are supposed to…

As we’ve done further research into the issue of lost medical & licensing paperwork at the Sacramento office, it turns out that the problem is substantially larger than first thought.

Because the CSAC front office neglects to audit event packages mailed to them by inspectors after events, they are not properly ensuring that receipts for licensee applications are being collected. They are also neglecting to check the medical & licensing paperwork. Furthermore, the front office is not auditing the box office to make sure that the commission is receiving the money it is supposed to be getting from promoters.

This toxic mix of negligence has resulted in utter chaos at the California State Athletic Commission. It has directly resulted in missing paperwork that should be on file. While some documents are scanned in and available to access, many documents are flat out missing. They’re gone. Misplaced, lost, thrown away. If a CEO of a respectable corporation took one look at the way paperwork is managed in the Sacramento office, they would immediately assume the worst of the individuals in the office. You can only be so incompetent before you are suspected of behavior that is borderline criminal.

Especially if you are trying to replace missing medical & licensing paperwork and attempting to cover your tracks in the process.

Compounding a comedy of errors

There are many forms that a fighter must fill out and get completed before they are legally allowed to fight in the state of California. You can see the list of forms here, which includes a licensing application, MRI summary, neurological examination, EKG summary, eye exam, physical exam, and lab work for HIV testing. In short, the paperwork process is supposed to go smoothly and everything is supposed to be on file at the Sacramento office.

However, there’s a two-pronged problem. First, the lead inspectors who are out in the field at shows are not enforcing the rules & regulations on the books. They are sometimes not sending the required paperwork in the event package back to Sacramento after shows. Second, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that the front office doesn’t audit the event packages. The end result is a mess of the paperwork process where some fighters have their documentation on file while other fighters do not. Fighters have already paid money or had money deducted from their fight purse to take care of costs. The costs, especially on MRI testing, can really hit the wallet hard of fighters who are competing on small to mid-sized shows in the state.

The end result of the behavior from both lead inspectors & the CSAC front office is gross negligence that would never be tolerated in a standard office environment. During our research into this topic, we discovered that the percentage of documents lost on fighters by the front office or lead inspectors was shockingly high.

In order to understand what the lead inspectors are facing, it is important to understand what the front office is presenting them in the event packages. There is a sheet in the packet called a Who’s Who sheet where the proposed fights on a card are listed. There are categories such as the status of a fighter’s Federal ID, application status, fees paid, picture on file, and whether or not the fighter in question has completed medical records on file. It will either say “OK” and have a date of the specific medical file or it will say the word “need” in red.

In documents we examined regarding Who’s Who sheets, we discovered that there are instances where the sheets contain instructions in bold lettering to the lead inspector. The instructions to the lead inspector can involve asking the fighter to produce a copy of certain medical paperwork (like an eye exam). The instructions can also issue a directive to the lead inspector to get a fighter to fill out another licensing application form… and back-date it.

Let me repeat what I just wrote. Back-dating paperwork. As in falsifying and manipulating documents so that the ones on file appear to have been process on a certain date but were really processed on another date.

Example of how fighters get screwed over: Let’s say a fighter fills out an application form and pays the fee. However, the fighter doesn’t end getting a receipt for the transaction because the people who are supposed to produce the receipt are too lazy or inept to produce it.

The fighter competes and then schedules another fight in a couple of months. The front office discovers that they either lost the licensing application or didn’t get it from the lead inspector. They also don’t have a receipt of record.

So, the front office turns around and tells the lead inspector for the show that the fighter is booked at that he needs to get a new licensing application from the fighter and asks for the fighter to pay the fee again since they don’t have a receipt for the previous transaction. The fighter is told that if he doesn’t fill out the application and pays the fee again that he won’t be able to fight on the show he’s booked for. The fighter is left with little recourse but to re-file a licensing application and to pay a fee for a second time when they shouldn’t have had to do so, thanks to the negligence of those working for the commission.

But what about when the front office loses a medical document such as a copy of a fighter’s EKG exam? On the Who’s Who sheet, the CSAC front office has put — in writing, no less — a request to the lead inspector to ask the fighter in question to produce a hard copy of the exam results. However, what if the fighter doesn’t know that the front office has lost the document and is asked on short notice to produce a hard copy that they don’t have? The fighter (or promoter or agent) has to then pay out of pocket to do a new exam so that a new hard copy is created and then given to the lead inspector at the show if they want to fight. This scenario is not uncommon at shows.

Throughout the documentation we’ve reviewed, there are 100s of fighters that CSAC lists as having some sort of missing medical paperwork. A combination of complete negligence on the behalf of both lead inspectors at events to send in the proper medical paperwork in the event packages back to Sacramento along with the Sacramento front office refusing to audit event packages and use common sense to manage medical records has created a dangerous & reckless atmosphere. How can anyone trust their medical records to be kept safe with the Department of Consumer Affairs? You simply can’t.

The paperwork scam in Sacramento

If you’re wondering why no one has been fired or arrested in the front office of the California State Athletic Commission over manipulation of documents & missing medical paperwork, you’re not alone.

But how did we get to this point?

It would be one thing for a commission office to lose some paperwork. It would be one thing for a commission office to ask for fighters to produce documentation that is missing and just label such a transaction with a truthful date. However, that is not what is going on here in the CSAC front office. The front office is asking lead inspectors on the ground to change the date on paperwork in order to cover the asses of those who are screwing up big time in Sacramento. Incredibly, all of these requests to manipulate & change the date on paperwork IS IN WRITING. If state auditors took one look at the event packages for shows that have been prepared by the CSAC front office, they would be terrified at what is listed in writing on the Who’s Who sheets. When I saw what was in writing on Who’s Who sheets, I was taken aback by what I saw.

Why don’t the front office workers at the California State Athletic Commission give a damn about their shady activity? Because everything is a joke to the front office. There are no consequences. Nobody in the Department of Consumer Affairs has fired anyone. Denise Brown is the same individual that has known fraud has been ongoing at the commission and even put this admission in writing.

When no one in the Department of Consumer Affairs is willing to actually fire the individuals involved in screwing up box offices & costing the state of California upwards of 7 figures, why should the front office care?

When no one in the Department of Consumer Affairs is willing to fire the individuals involved in altering the dates on documents and misplacing or losing sensitive medical paperwork, why should the front office care?

What we have is a toxic mess on our hands in Sacramento that is pushing out fighters and promoters being active in the state of California. Business is heading to other states as a direct result of the behavior from the Department of Consumer Affairs.

If you think that altering medical records is a crime, that’s because it is. All one needs to do is to take a look at the Penal Code section of California state law that pertains to manipulating documents for insurance purposes and apply the same law here. California PC 471.5 states the following:

Any person who alters or modifies the medical record of any person, with fraudulent intent, or who, with fraudulent intent, creates any false medical record, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

So, why is back-dating of documents such as licensing applications not considered a serious offense by those working at CSAC? Their loophole & reasoning is based on the concept that licensing paperwork is not medical documentation, therefore they aren’t altering medical documents. Which begs us to ask the question — if losing documents such as licensing applications is not criminal activity, then why are you trying to alter the dates of these types of documents?

Curiously, why are you not only altering the dates of documents but also putting such requests in writing and instructing others to do your dirty work? That, in and of itself, shows how brazen the Sacramento CSAC office is that they are willing to put their own admissions of guilt in writing.

Let’s just focus on the altering of dates on licensing applications for a second and not other issues related to missing medical paperwork. If a fighter was seriously injured and sued the state of California for negligence… and it was discovered by lawyers that the fighter’s license in question was somehow manipulated (e.g. back-dated) because some of the dates on the medical documentation had expired… how could the commission not be found guilty based on issues of strict liability? Furthermore, how would a jury not consider modification and manipulation of a fighter’s licensing application relevant given that the license is the key for anyone who wants to fight in the state of California? The license and medical paperwork go hand-in-hand.

I brought up the possibility of modifying licensing paperwork (e.g. back-dating) as a way to get around a fighter having some expired medical records. Consider the following: an application/fee lasts 1 year, the neurological exam documention lasts 15 months, the MRI & MRI summary documentation lasts 1 year plus a second year at the discretion of a fight doctor, the eye exam & physical exam last 1 year, and the blood work (lab documentation) last 6 months in duration and must be done within 30 days of the fighter application being filled out.

See how easy it is to play Russian Roulette here when you’re back-dating and altering documents?

It should also be noted that when Sacramento loses the licensing documentation for a fighter, they can’t punish a fighter for a failed drug test or another kind of suspension if the fighter isn’t technically licensed.

The truth is that missing paperwork issues for fighters should be taken care of by the Sacramento office 30 days prior to an event happening. This is never done. The fact that you have the CSAC front office instructing lead inspectors to take care of missing medical paperwork & back-dating documentation at the weigh-ins of shows reveals just what a chaotic mess the state has on its hands.

Now, throw in the “3 inspector policy” per show. If you have 3 inspectors working a show, the likelihood of: a) managing the box office, b) handling basic drug testing (drugs of abuse only for most shows now), c) inspecting hand-wraps and gloves to make sure there aren’t illegal hand-wraps and skinning of gloves (or both fighters using the same size of gloves), and d) properly handling medical paperwork is about 1% right now in terms of actually doing the job right. It simply cannot be done given who is currently working as inspectors on the ground. It’s just not going to happen.

And California taxpayers are getting soaked in the process by having to pay the salaries of incompetent & corrupt state employees working at the California State Athletic Commission.

The questions everybody should be asking right now

Do you believe that if you put CSAC front office workers like Che Guevara, Sarah Waklee, and Nichole Bowles under oath & under penalty of perjury that they would deny altering & back-dating paperwork to cover their tracks for missing documentation in the front office?

Now that you know that the front office is altering & back-dating paperwork, do you believe that state auditors could discover altered paperwork in regards to the medical documentation for fighters?

Where does the buck stop on this matter?

Who is the Chief Athletic Inspector for the California State Athletic Commission? Che Guevara.

Who is the person who is supposed to oversee & audit how inspectors manage box offices for events that take place in the state of California? Che Guevara.

Who is the person responsible for making sure that lead inspectors do not miss illegal hand-wraps, skinning of the gloves, and botched drug testing? Che Guevara.

Who is the person responsible for overseeing that inspectors properly collect medical paperwork from fighters and send it to the Sacramento office for processing? Che Guevara.

Who is the person who the Department of Consumer Affairs would be happy to see as the California State Athletic Commission’s next Executive Officer? Che Guevara.

A message to the media and to politicians

We have staffers & politicians from the California Legislature who are reading our reports about the athletic commission. Here is some advice for these individuals, espeically if you are connected to the state Senate’s Business & Professions Committee

Put everyone connected to the California State Athletic Commisison under oath and under penalty of perjury. Put the top lead inspectors for the commission (such as Mohammad Noor & Mike Guzman) under oath. Video tape the hearing for the California Channel. Grill them.

Put Denise Brown & Awet Kidane from the Department of Consumer Affairs under oath and grill them as to why they won’t file any notices of adverse actions to terminate CSAC employees. Why won’t they fire front office workers they know are committing fraud? DCA has put this admission in writing. They can’t run away from it. Make them answer why they won’t fire anyone.

Sunsetting the commission will simply exacerbate the problems that already exist at the California State Athletic Commisison. The best tactic for SBP is to put everyone under oath and put their statements on video tape. Watch them squirm.

As for the combat sports media (both boxing & MMA), start going to shows in California and put lead inspectors on the record. Che Guevara is going to be the lead inspector for the Andre Ward/Chad Dawson fight in Oakland. He’ll be at the weigh-ins on Friday and running the show at Oracle Arena on Saturday. Grill him.

Either the mess in Sacramento gets cleaned up now voluntarily or gets cleaned up after the state of California loses millions of dollars because of lawsuits & criminal charges. I’d rather have this mess cleaned up right now before someone gets seriously hurt or killed due to the glaring negligence of individuals in the California State Athletic Commission office who think everything is a big joke.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 15 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

15 Responses to “The California State Athletic Commission is openly losing & manipulating fighter paperwork”

  1. Clint says:

    It may be hard for anyone to take you serious when you call the Chief Inspector Che Guevara. After all there was only one Che Guevara and he was communist killer and Castro’s right hand man, who spent most of his life trying to destroy the United States. Which state official would align themselves with a person who has adopted the name of a man who’s chief claim to fame is being anti American?

  2. kid nate says:

    This is important work on a thankless topic Zach. Well done.

  3. Brian says:

    Kind of off subject but why doesn’t the California State Athletic Commission assign its own referee for one of the biggest fight of the year in boxing. This weekend during the Ward/Dawson fight they will have a referee from New Jersey as the third man in the ring. California has some of the best officials in the world and instead bring in an outside official. Why not use Jack Reiss, Pat Russell, Raul Caiz Jr or Sr….did the commission selling out their own referees to ensure that they can keep the fight in California to get the revenue from this fight?

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Steve Smoger I think is the name of the referee Dan Rafael said is working the main event.

      The whole make-up of the officials at the Oakland show is curious, to say the least. Then again, Che Guevara is running the show.

      • Tomer says:

        The funny thing is that although Smoger is (IMO) one of the best referees in Boxing today, he’s known as a ‘rough and tumble’ referee that will let guys work on the inside and will lean towards decisive stoppages rather than early finishes (such as Pavlik-Taylor I and Jones Jr.-Lebedev, which really should have been stopped seconds earlier) whereas neither Dawson nor Ward are exactly bombers with real fight stopping power.

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          Smoger did a great job tonight…which he usually does. Aside from Kenny Bayless, there isn’t a finer ref in the entirety of boxing.

        • The Gaijin says:

          @Alan – totally agreed. I came to say the exact same thing. Smoger did an awesome job.

        • Tomer says:

          Yeah, I guess I’m eating crow after saying that neither Ward or Dawson has serious stopping power… :)

        • The Gaijin says:

          @Tomer – in your defense, I don’t think anyone saw that one coming!

  4. [...] More Shadiness from the CSAC (FightOpinion.com) [...]

  5. SmackyBear says:

    Zach, do you have any idea what drug tests cost California? Both for the drugs of abuse panel and the steroid panel.

    I assume you saw that they only tested Rousey and Kaufman for drugs at the most recent SF event. On a card with 18 athletes.

    The interim director said the low number wasn’t due to budgetary restrictions, but just random chance that nobody else was selected for testing. But I could swear I’ve read that CSAC tests everyone before, though that may have been almost two years ago that I read that.

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