By Zach Arnold | February 13, 2015
There are two intriguing & news-worthy developments happening right now with the California State Athletic Commission and the political bosses that oversee the operation at the Department of Consumer Affairs in Sacramento.
One development is very much welcomed and the other development is very much crap. We’ll address the latter in another article soon forthcoming.
Onto the positive news. Awet Kidane, the big kahuna that oversees the 4,300+ workers at DCA in Sacramento, is now the second DCA boss in a row to tell the Athletic Commission to back off of Dr. VanBuren Ross Lemons’ dream of a Therapeutic Use Exemption policy. Dr. Lemons has repeatedly sold his policy idea as one which would make the process of granting TUEs for fighters needing testosterone as rare and supervised. The counter-argument, which the doctor and others have not been able to generate a response to, is this:
Why should there be a policy to allow any fighter to use testosterone when its a banned substance in the first place?
In April of 2012, we spoke out against the proposed TUE policy. In late 2014, a new push was quietly made to grease the skids to get the TUE proposal passed with a largely hidden 45-day comment period. That period ended on December 15th, 2014. On December 15th, DCA’s number one sent the Athletic Commission a letter stating his formal opposition to implementing any such TUE policy.
Here is the text from that letter, which was released late Friday afternoon:
Dear Chairman Frierson:
[DCA] has great concerns regarding the California State Athletic Commission’s proposed regulations for the establishment of a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) process. I would like to commend the Commission’s thoughtful efforts to craft a fully realized regulatory process. However, serious procedural and policy concerns remain and I urge the Commission to withdraw this proposal and cease moving forward with the establishment of TUEs in California.
Despite the Commission’s best efforts, the proposed regulation still lacks completeness in both transparency and specificity. For example, the regulation is silent on the physical review of the TUE application, a process that must be as transparent as can be made possible. As written, members of the public and licensees are not provided clarity as to whether the application is reviewed by the Medical Advisory Committee, the full Commission, the Executive Officer, or some combination thereof. The proposal also does not specify if the application, and the review of it, would be made public or kept confidential. Additionally, there is language that indicates retroactive exemptions could be made possible, and this is simply unacceptable given the gravity and history of this subject.
More importantly, the need for this regulation proposal has yet to be justified. This is particularly true provided that existing law already grants the strongest protection for our licensees by prohibiting the use of forbidden substances banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency. This regulation exposes licensees of the Commission to unnecessary risk that goes above and beyond those inherent in their chosen profession. The risk that is taken by allowing licensees of the Commission to use, among other substances, synthetic testosterone, is extraordinary. This raises numerous concerns, not the least of which is that the opponent of any fighter with an exemption for the steroid could be at a dangerous disadvantage to someone who has been training, and is performing, with the help of that substance.
Fighter safety would be jeopardized in more ways than it would be protected, which is why states like Nevada have placed outright bans on TUE’s, and the Association of Ringside Physicians, “supports the general elimination of [TUEs] for [TRT].” By following Nevada’s example of not allowing any exemptions, and preserving the restrictions in existing law, the Commission will send the strongest message possible which is that our athletes will continue to compete on an even playing field and in a manner that will not jeopardize their health and safety. Ultimately, this demonstrates the Commission’s commitment to upholding its mission statement by ensuring the health, safety and welfare of the participants in regulated competitive sporting events in California.
For this reasons I reiterate my encouragement that the Commission not move forward with the adoption of proposed section 424. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your proposed rulemaking. If you have any questions, please contact Christine Lally, Deputy Director for Board and Bureau Relations at 916-574-8200.
Awet Kidane, Director
Department of Consumer Affairs
Reginald Fair, Deputy Secretary, Legislation, Business Consumer Services and Housing Agency
Christine Lally, Deputy Director for Board and Bureau Relations
Melinda McClain, Deputy Director for Division of Legislative and Policy Review
Andy Foster, Executive Officer, California State Athletic Commission
If Dr. Lemons wants to save his TUE proposal, he will have to whip the other votes and I’m very skeptical that he will be able to do so at this point in time.