By Zach Arnold | February 21, 2015
First, a summary of events that transpired at the February 18th Los Angeles meeting for the California State Athletic Commission:
- Spencer Walker, the long-time Department of Consumer Affairs lawyer who has ruled the roost at the Commission, is out. Doreathea Johnson, who oversees legal affairs at DCA, will take an even more aggressive approach to overseeing legal responsibilities for CSAC.
- John Frierson was re-appointed to the Athletic Commission by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, the big kahuna in Sacramento. Frierson stepped down as Chairman of CSAC, with John Carvelli formally crowned as the new Chairman. This is no surprise and maintains status quo from last year. Former boxer & current appellate lawyer Mary Lehman is Vice Chair.
- Dr. VanBuren Ross Lemons is gone from the Athletic Commission board. It is unknown if Dr. Christopher Giza will be re-appointed.
- The Athletic Commission is near a break-even point for this year’s Fiscal Year budget but is projected to build a cushion by the end of the FY.
- There are concurrent Budget Act bills in both the state Assembly & state Senate to increase the budget appropriation for CSAC yearly from $1.2 million USD to $1.44 million USD.
- Tyson Cave’s lawyer petitioned the Athletic Commission board for a reversal of the decision in Cave’s ESPN fight last December with Oscar Escandon. Spencer Walker declared that since no one from Cave’s camp showed up for the meeting, an entry of default was suitable to deny the petition. Cave’s petition for appeal was denied.
- Steve Fossum’s IKF was granted another six-month extension to regulate Muay Thai & amateur kickboxing in California.
- Martha Shen-Urquidez, consigliere/ally to both Andy Foster & Big John McCarthy, has her own subcommittee now to oversee the training of officials in California.
Onto the details…
John Frierson re-appointed to CSAC board, no longer Chairman
Mr. Frierson read a prepared statement:
“First, I want to express my thanks to our Executive Officer Andy Foster who I believe has done an excellent job for this commission. When he was, when I was elected Chair a number of years ago the Governor instructed me — instructed me — that this will be, he would like diversity on this commission and in the boxing (sphere here). Period. And we have followed that. I am pleased that Mr. Foster has stayed in line to that end.
“On February 6th, I was re-appointed to the commission by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and that’s through 2019. And if I stay through that whole time, I’ll be 89. But having said that, I’m stepping down as Chair today. But not from the commission. I have worked with many of you and many of the commissions but this one is the best and I want to thank everyone at this table very much. We don’t always agree but most of the time we end up on the same page. I just want to thank you, Andy, and I want to thank the rest of the commissioners.”
To the surprise of no one, Governor Jerry Brown’s conduit to the CSAC board John Carvelli was appointed Chairman. We reported on Carvelli’s financial & lobbying records last year. Carvelli’s dental HMO, Liberty Dental, uses the same lobbying firm as the UFC in Sacramento.
Top athletic inspector assistant to Mark Reylea, Rick Estrada, given an award
Declaration by Andy Foster:
“In brevity, Mr. Estrada is literally the best ring measurement, he takes care of our rings when he’s there. He does all that. He does the drug testing. He’s been out with me on Sundays when we’ve went and looked at all these other things. He goes with me to press conferences. He’s done drug tests. He’s… he is… if I call Rick, it gets done. And so I just thought he deserved some recognition.”
John Frierson gave Andy Foster an award. John Frierson was given a special gavel.
DCA’s top lawyer asserts control
Doreathea Johnson, who runs the show for legal affairs at Consumer Affairs, was in attendance at the Los Angeles meeting. DCA boss Awet Kidane declared to the Athletic Commission that he wanted a withdrawal of the Therapeutic Use Exemption proposal for testosterone. That request was granted. Doreathea Johnson wants a working group to deal with DCA legal to handle any such future changes. This TUE policy was the baby of Dr. Lemons, who is now gone. John Carvelli declared that Dr. Lemons “has retired.”
Doreathea had trouble pronouncing Martha Shen-Urquidez’s name.
Andy Foster using Matt Podgorski’s Pod Index report
The Executive Officer declared that CSAC has a contract with Matt Podgorski’s Pod Index LLC company to produce reports when needed.
Regarding the scoring by judges Tony Krebs & Raul Caiz Jr. for the Tyson Cave/Oscar Escandon fight last December on ESPN, Andy Foster stated the following:
“Unfortunately, we were off compared to the Pod Index and also to the media scoring the fight and also to Teddy Atlas at ringside.”
“[The Pod Index report] is an educational tool. We had the judges go back and re-score the fight, Mr. Krebs and Mr. Caiz Jr. Their findings, I’ll let them tell you what their findings are when they approach the commission.”
Dr. Christopher Giza raised concerns about the Pod Index report. The same concerns we raised regarding the use of anonymous judges and what styles those judges prefer when scoring fights. This process treats them as de-facto arbitrators.
Andy Foster replied:
“They’re anonymous on purpose but they’re licensed officials in other states. They’re typically officials that work high-level fights. So that’s all I can tell you. They’re licensed. They’re experienced. But they’re kept anonymous on purpose.”
Legally-speaking, that is a terrible argument to make and one that would not hold up in court if any official was disciplined based on the findings of a Pod Index report. Yes, one could make the legal argument that any judge affiliated with a major boxing sanctioning body has legal standing in California. However, the fact that such judges a) are anonymous and b) being granted authority for essentially a job performance exercise is an absolutely terrible precedent to set.
If the judges being utilized by Pod Index are high-level, then they should have no problems attaching their names to their score cards.
Judges Tony Krebs and Raul Caiz Jr. were summoned to speak in front of the Athletic Commission. To his credit, Krebs questioned the merits of the five judges used in the Pod Index fight review. He challenged the anonymity. He challenged the fact that the five judges could watch the fight in slow motion on TV. He raised questions about the perspectives of the judges being relied upon in the report.
In response, Andy Foster admitted that he thought the Cave/Escandon fight was close but that something went very wrong.
This is not an exercise to bash our officials. This is an exercise to improve our officiating and you’ll see more of this when we have a controversial score, it’s important for the officials to not just talk to me about it but occasionally talk to the commissioners about it because training and this type of stuff is important for us to move forward as a commission. This is a transparent body and I’m not certainly being critical but this is a fact. The winner of this fight propelled his career to epic proportions, very good. I think you guys would both agree with that. The loser of this fight did not.
The reason I’m saying this is we as a commission and you as the officials hold the livelihood of these athletes in your hand. I’m not being critical. What I’m saying is, we have to got to train as a commission. These fighters train for 8 weeks, sometimes 10 weeks, sometimes even longer in camps and we need you guys as the professional officials of this commission, the largest athletic commission in the United States, train and put in the same dedication, put in the same effort of being in the gym, scoring TV, doing these types of things and you’ll see more of these type of exercises coming out of the office, OK?”
Someone should tell the Executive Officer that the Athletic Commission is required to provide training to the licensees every six months. It’s in the code.
18731. (a) In addition to the other requirements of this chapter and regulations adopted thereunder, no referee or physician and surgeon shall be assigned to a boxing contest if he or she has not completed a clinic offered by a provider approved by the commission.
(b) A referee or physician and surgeon shall complete a clinic within the preceding six months of a boxing contest.
It is the job of the Commission to provide the proper training to officials. If officials are not adequately trained, that falls on the Athletic Commission. Additionally, if a licensee has received the proper training from the Athletic Commission and cannot do their job, you petition the Athletic Commission as a body to suspend or strip their license. You do not issue arbitrary & unilateral temporary suspensions, even if the licensees are considered independent contractors and not employees. They are still representing a state regulatory body when performing their job duties.
The Executive Officer invited both Tony Krebs & Raul Caiz Jr. to attend an ABC training seminar with judge Duane Ford in San Diego this Summer. Andy Foster indicated that he wanted all California officials to attend this particular seminar.