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By Zach Arnold | June 2, 2016
When the Nevada State Athletic Commission told the public that big changes were coming after being transitioned from the state’s general fund to self-funding for budgetary purposes, they weren’t joking. A review of the 104-pages of proposed changes to the commission’s rules and regulations shows dramatic changes and cost increases for drug testing infractions, sanctioning of third party drug testing organizations, revisions in fighter/management contracts, questionnaire disclosures, bans on energy drinks, medical examinations, increased licensee fees, extra ambulances at fight events, electronic score cards, and more.
This is the 104-page document of proposed changes that are about to be implemented in three weeks. The changes are the work product of both the state’s Attorney General office and Pat Lundvall, the long-time attorney on the Nevada State Athletic Commission board.
I read the document carefully. It took me approximately two hours of undivided attention to digest. If you are an active licensee in Nevada, you must read this document. If you can’t, hire an attorney who can help you digest the information. The sweeping changes will dramatically impact the way business is handled in Nevada.
Nevada has long had a reputation of being promoter-friendly for all shows, big and small. These new changes are likely to drive away some club shows from the state. The changes will impact smaller promoters, although not on a scale as draconian as New York’s new combat sports bill which goes into effect in September.
One of the changes is to now characterize the Nevada State Athletic Commission administrative hearings as civil, not administrative, hearings.
NAC 467.936 “Hearings before the Commission are civil proceedings.”
For informational (and not legal) purposes, we have developed a summary of some of the major changes that Nevada is about to implement.
Double-or-nothing suspensions for positive drug tests
At last week’s Nevada State Athletic Commission, the board made their intentions clear that they wanted hardened guidelines for future drug suspensions in an effort to push licensees into plea bargains (“agreements”) as a way to save money on investigative & legal costs.
Here is a look at some of those new guidelines:
- Positive drug test – minimum 9 month suspension & 15% purse fine, maximum 24 month suspension & 30% purse fine
- Failure to provide a urine sample – minimum 12 month suspension & 20% purse fine, maximum 24 month suspension & 40% purse fine
- Tampering with sample/evidence or obstructing the drug testing process – minimum 12 month suspension & 20% purse fine, maximum 24 month suspension & 40% purse fine
- Possession of a prohibited substance or “method” – minimum 9 month suspension & 15% fine, maximum 24 month suspension & 30% fine. This includes training camp activity for all coaches, trainers, managers, seconds, agents, team staff, official & medical personnel, and parents.
- Selling, distribution, or transporting banned substances or methods – minimum 12 month suspension & 15% fine, maximum lifetime ban and 50% fine.
These are the new standards being proposed. Here are the additional baselines:
- Second positive drug test – double the punishment from the first suspension plus 40% fine
- Third positive drug test – minimum 18 month suspension & 40% fine, maximum lifetime ban & 60% purse fine, plus a prohibitive association-style restraining order with anyone associated with combat in Nevada
- Aggravated circumstances punitive punishment – if a licensee is guilty of more than one anti-doping violation, in use or possession of multiple banned substances/methods, found to be part of an active conspiracy with others in doping, is found to be deceptive or obstructive in avoiding detection, or is found to be using such a high level of drugs that it “had a significant potential to enhance the performance of an unarmed combatant,” the initial suspension for the positive drug test can be doubled in length.
Mitigating circumstances in reducing drug testing suspensions
- Admission of usage without a positive drug test result or evidence – reduction in suspension by up to 50%, with a minimum 10% fine or maximum 30% purse fine
- Plea bargain of a major doping violation initially resulting in a minimum 4 year suspension – suspension could be reduced to 24 months and a 30% fine
There is additional room for reduction of suspension if a licensee can prove any of the following:
- Supplement/vitamin/drug disclosure on pre-fight questionnaire that led to positive drug test result
- Sabotage by a competitor
- A doctor or trainer gave the licensee the banned substance without their knowledge
- The licensee took the banned substance without the intent of enhancing their performance
- If the licensee caught with a positive drug test provides “substantial assistance” that leads to information used to create administrative complaints against other licensees for anti-doping violations, along with a signed statement under penalty of perjury
Therapeutic Use Exemptions
The Nevada State Athletic Commission can grant a TUE to a fighter no later than 60 days before the fighter’s first bout while using the approved substance. No retroactive TUEs for past drug usage, no TUEs for testosterone, and the TUEs last for a calendar year.
Third-party drug testing organizations
Third party organizations like USADA, VADA, etc. must petition the Nevada State Athletic Commission to be approved as a drug testing agent. Promoters must disclose contracts they have with third-party agencies to the Athletic Commission. “Trade secrets” in the contracts will be kept confidential by the Athletic Commission except if the information has to be disclosed in a civil, administrative, or criminal proceeding. The third-party drug testing agencies must submit all drug testing results to the Athletic Commission.
Medical examinations for a licensee must be submitted to the Athletic Commission no later than 7 days before a first bout in a calendar year. Blood & neurological tests submitted to the AC must have been taken within 30 days before submission to the commission.
- All promoters will now be required to have at least two ambulances and four EMTs at each event.
- Fighters who use IVs must disclose such usage on their pre-fight questionnaires. Erik Magraken on Nevada closing IV & blood doping loopholes.
- Fighters cannot ingest energy drinks, drinks with unlimited caffeine or stimulants the day of the show.
- Fighters cannot wear contract lenses during fights.
These are changes to the yearly fee structure:
Promoters – $750 (up from $500)
Amateur boxing promoters – $25
Judges, timekeepers, referees, and doctors – $100
Sanctioning bodies – $1,000 (up from $100)
Other rule changes
Promoters have to notify the Athletic Commission of a show cancellation at least 30 calendar days before the scheduled event or else be subject to disciplinary action.
Promoters must give 24 hour notice to both the Athletic Commission and public if there is a change of participants on a fight card.
The Athletic Commission will loosen their rule on what kind of containers drinks can be served at by venues. Venues were previously limited to paper or plastic cups but now the Athletic Commission will be granted the power to approve “any other container” if they choose to use it.
Promoters are still required to submit new boxing gloves for 12 round boxing matches or championship fights no later than 7 days before the bout. This is to inspect gloves for skinning or alteration. However, this requirement is now going to be relaxed for main events that aren’t 12 rounds fights.
Ice buckets will not be allowed any longer for corner staff. Ice must be in a sealable bag.
The Athletic Commission may approve the introduction of electronic scorecards.