By Zach Arnold | September 9, 2012
Of all the displays of incompetence and corruption happening right now with the California State Athletic Commission, you would be hard pressed to find a more curious example of stupidity than the way CSAC handled drug testing affairs at the Strikeforce event that took place last month in San Diego. The show was headlined by Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah Kaufman.
Kathi Burns, the Department of Consumer Affairs lifer who is filling in as interim Executive Office, revealed this past week that only Kaufman and Rousey were drug tested for steroids/PEDs while no one else was tested due to ‘random’ selection. Uhuh.
So, what exactly happened with the drug testing protocols in San Diego and why did the situation get so out of control for CSAC in the press?
The week of the Strikeforce show in San Diego
Earlier in the week that the Strikeforce show in San Diego took place, there was an ill-fated power play attempted by Kathi Burns against front office workers Sarah Waklee and Brandon Saucedo. Both work in the front office and also work as lead inspectors for Northern California shows. Burns attempted to stop both of them from working as lead inspectors at future shows so that they would simply focus on working in the front office. A conflict of interest in doing both jobs was cited for the power play attempt. Within hours of this power play attempt, Waklee and Saucedo immediately got Burns to back down and we were back to status quo.
Burns then decided after her power play was neutralized to travel down to San Diego for the weigh-ins of the Strikeforce show in San Diego. The weigh-ins were supposed to happen at around 2 PM. The problem? No one was around from the commission for the weigh-ins, leaving Marc Ratner and the Showtime crew mad. Burns eventually showed up and the weigh-ins proceeded.
An important factor that should be noted in this whole story is that Burns has no experience in combat sports and is not a fan of combat sports, either. She simply has been a lifer at Consumer Affairs in Sacramento, floating around from place to place.
When it came time to drug test the fighters, only Rousey and Kaufman were drug tested for PEDs. It turns out that Burns, who allegedly has no experience doing drug testing, reportedly handled the testing process herself. What makes this so bizarre is that there were inspectors at the show who had worked or are working for the state’s Corrections department. If there is anyone who understands the chain of custody issues regarding drug testing, it’s individuals who work for Corrections. And, yet, Burns herself is the one who handled the drug testing.
After the samples were procured, they were sent to the UCLA drug testing lab.
The UCLA lab then called up Kathi Burns after they were given the samples and told her there was a problem with the labeling. They wanted direct contact with her since she was the one involved in procuring the samples. Once the problem was fixed, the testing proceeded to take place.
Here’s Don Catlin in 2011 explaining the testing protocols at the UCLA lab:
As a laboratory director, I often responded to legitimate requests for information about the results. Guiding those requests and the whole testing process are the cardinal features of all sport testing contracts: 1) samples are identified only by a code number, 2) only the testing agency (for example USADA) can connect the name of the athlete to the code number, and 3) nobody at the laboratory knows the name of the athletes. The testing is anonymous.
The end result is that the California State Athletic Commission claimed that both samples tested negative. The reality is that even if one of the samples had tested positive, it would have been nearly impossible for the commission to uphold a suspension against either Ronda Rousey or Sarah Kaufman due to the chain of custody issues that Kathi Burns created (fixable or not). No one, other than Kathi Burns herself, knows why she was the one who decided to handle the drug testing in San Diego.
Turning the tables
The news of the botched drug testing protocols used by Kathi Burns broke because of an e-mail that Sarah Waklee sent out to MMA web sites. In the e-mail, Waklee reportedly claimed that the drug testing results were ‘invalid’ after being submitted to the UCLA lab. A few hours later, Kathi Burns sent out a note to the media stating that everything had been sorted out.
“The results of the drug testing for the August 18, 2012 Strikeforce event will be provided later this week or early next week. I spoke with the lab just a few moments ago and found that a delay in processing the results has occurred due to a simple, but correctable clerical error.”
When Kathi Burns was asked by MMA Junkie as to why this situation became the public relations nightmare that it did, Junkie reported the following:
Burns declined to explain an email from CSAC sent to the media that stated test results for “Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman” were “invalid,” saying it was “an internal matter.”
Regarding an earlier comment from UFC Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner that there may have been issues with sample collection on fight night, Burns clarified that the CSAC was simply unfamiliar with the UCLA lab’s testing protocols, which required samples to be labeled in a certain way. When they weren’t, it caused the delay in processing results.
“When we switched labs, we switched procedures,” she said. “The steps that we used to take for a certain kind of cup and certain kind of sample were different than the way we do it now. So basically what happened was that all of the steps that we needed to take didn’t happen. So the lab needed that step in order to process the results.
The person here who didn’t have experience with the UCLA lab protocols is Kathi Burns.
As for her comment about declaring Waklee’s e-mail to the press as an ‘internal matter,’ I think there’s something that needs to be said about this breach of etiquette.
In state government circles, you are not supposed to speak to the press unless your superiors green light your request and allow you to do so. This is what the Department of Consumer Affairs went after (former) Executive Officer George Dodd for, even though on many of the occasions they went after him for he hadn’t actually talked with the press member DCA claimed he spoke with.
To make a long story short, if you are a state worker and you speak out of turn and make your superiors look bad in the process, you can and often are subjected to disciplinary action. Intentionally or unintentionally, Waklee’s e-mail to the media made Kathi Burns look like a ditz. Burns has every right to cite California Gov. Code 11126(a)(1) in order to call for a disciplinary hearing in front of the sitting CSAC board members to have Waklee punished for her actions.
(a)(1)Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent a state body from holding closed sessions during a regular or special meeting to consider the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, or dismissal of a public employee or to hear complaints or charges brought against that employee by another person or employee unless the employee requests a public hearing.
So, will Burns have the nerve to cite the code and have Waklee punished? Highly doubtful. Nobody is afraid of each other in the Sacramento front office. As our multi-month investigation has revealed, it’s a free-for-all cesspool full of fraudulent activity in the CSAC front office right now.
The big picture
We’ve demonstrated that the Sacramento front office for the California State Athletic Commission can’t manage a box office, can’t manage an explosion of cheating regarding illegal hand-wraps and skinned gloves due to incompetence & a terrible “3 inspector per show” policy, and can’t manage to maintain proper medical & licensing paperwork for fighters resulting in requests for altering documents. Throw in the botched drug testing situation at the Strikeforce show and what you have is a proverbial keg of dynamite waiting to explode.
At Saturday’s Andre Ward/Chad Dawson fight in Oakland at Oracle Arena, Che Guevara (the Chief Athletic Inspector of CSAC who also works in the front office) cut down the number of inspectors from 7 to 5. Five inspectors, given the level of incompetence with some in the Northern California crew, is not a safe number.
Bottom line? The reason the Department of Consumer Affairs is doing absolutely nothing about the chaos at the California State Athletic Commission is because they are a big part of the problem. They’ve created an environment and fostered the political chaos that you are currently witnessing. The end game for DCA? They want the commission sunsetted.
Sunsetting the athletic commission does not mean shutting down combat sports in California. No, it’s actually worse than that. Sunsetting CSAC would mean that DCA would eliminate commission meetings for public consumption. DCA would take everything private and remove any sort of transparency that’s left. They would integrate even more of their bureaucratic lifers, none who have experience in combat sports, into regulatory affairs. It would only exacerbate the issues the commission is currently facing, not clean up the actual mess.
The last time the California State Athletic Commission was sunset, Armando Garcia got in big trouble and forced DCA to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit at the price tag of $75,000. Naturally, DCA replaced Armando with a man named Dave Thornton who cost DCA $750,000 in a legal settlement for a sexual & racial harassment lawsuit filed against him. This is the kind of leadership that would be on display by Consumer Affairs once the commission gets sunset.
The idiots at Consumer Affairs think that getting CSAC sunsetted will solve their political problems. I have news for them — it will only make your political & liability problems significantly worse. DCA sunsetting CSAC is the equivalent of putting a used throw rug over a carpet that has been soaked & stained from cat urine & dog turds. The stench isn’t going away.
- Investigation: The future of combat sports in California (May 6th)
- Investigation: How did (then) 80 year old scandal-plagued politician John Frierson get an important job promotion? (May 9th)
- The politics of MMA’s testosterone push & California’s coming collapse (June 7th)
- California State Athletic Commission on a path towards insolvency, could get shut down (June 10th, 2012)
- PDF report now online – Blame game: DCA, CSAC civil war (emergency 6/26 meeting set by DCA) (June 16th, 2012)
- DCA/CSAC civil war: Taxpayers & promoters get a raw deal in California (June 19th, 2012)
- DCA outlines potential CSAC fraud; Dodd out as Executive Director (June 22nd, 2012)
- Amidst DCA/CSAC civil war chaos, a second CSAC member (Brian Edwards) is gone (June 24th, 2012)
- Source – George Dodd prepared for showdown w/ DCA on Tuesday (June 24th, 2012)
- DCA, CSAC face retaliation & age discrimination lawsuit (June 25th, 2012)
- Explaining the motives of the DCA/CSAC civil war (June 26th, 2012)
- Civil war: CSAC keeps George Dodd (against DCA wishes) (June 26th, 2012)
- How the CSAC fought DCA’s power grab (June 28th, 2012)
- DCA’s illegal Saturday morning CSAC meeting (June 29th, 2012)
- Explaining why DCA’s Saturday CSAC hearing was illegal (June 30th, 2012)
- DCA’s new spin on illegal CSAC hearing doesn’t cut it (July 2nd, 2012)
- Incredible – DCA advising CSAC on getting a loan (July 6th, 2012)
- DCA preparing CSAC loan to help cover debt, some of which DCA admits was caused by fraud (July 9th, 2012)
- Horrible atmosphere at CSAC, strained promoter relations (July 12th, 2012)
- Notes from 9 AM CSAC stakeholders call (July 15th, 2012)
- George Dodd resigns at CSAC; DCA goes for full purge at CSAC (July 16th, 2012)
- Road map of CSAC chaos reveals fingerprints from California’s biggest politicians (Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, Denise Brown) (July 18th, 2012)
- Why it’s possible UFC will get involved in CSAC chaos (July 18th, 2012)
- Tax records reveal DCA corruption & who cashed in big at the California State Athletic Commission (July 23rd, 2012)
- Pest Control E.O. Bill Douglas accused by prosecutor of targeting CSAC office (July 30th, 2012)
- Che Guevara thinks he’ll be the next E.O. at the California State Athletic Commission (August 3rd, 2012)
- Department of Consumer Affairs admits George Dodd was right & that the California State Athletic Commission isn’t broke (August 7th, 2012)
- Sacramento’s new sleazy cost-cutting measures for the California State Athletic Commission (August 8th, 2012)
- DCA’s nightmare: The California State Athletic Commission is about to get audited (August 9th, 2012)
- What’s next for the California State Athletic Commission? (August 13th, 2012)
- What’s missing on the job application for Executive Officer slot at CSAC (August 14th, 2012)
- Failed power plays has DCA interested in sunsetting the California State Athletic Commission (August 19th, 2012)
- Andre Berto re-licensing by CSAC is another stain for the Department of Consumer Affairs (August 21st, 2012)
- Did Governor Jerry Brown reveal a DCA quid pro quo at CSAC to fire George Dodd? (August 23rd, 2012)
- Crystal ball: CSAC audit will reveal up to 7-figures $ missing (August 28th, 2012)
- Chaos at CSAC – skinned gloves, illegal hand-wraps, wrong gloves (August 31st, 2012)
- The California State Athletic Commission is openly losing & manipulating fighter paperwork (September 6th, 2012)