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What Brock Lesnar could have been for UFC in 2015 & what he will be for WWE now

By Zach Arnold | March 29, 2015

Brock Lesnar is hours away from headlining Wrestlemania at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. It almost could have blown up in everyone’s face had he not re-committed to WWE. Or maybe not.

The whole build up to Wrestlemania in the Bay Area has been flat out strange. The state Athletic Commission continues to tax WWE mega-events in the state while arbitrarily enforcing their regulatory powers. I’m amazed with so much money on the line that WWE hasn’t bothered to send the lawyers to file a basic writ of mandate to force the Athletic Commission to back off. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars here for a gate tax.

Then there’s the actual main event and the enigmatic Lesnar. The fans only care about him when he’s wrecking someone. Summerslam 2014 was hot. Then ice cold until Royal Rumble and back to ice cold until recently for Wrestlemania 2015. The majority of the talk heading into the event has been about Roman Reigns. Charitably-speaking, Lesnar’s a bore for WWE fans when he’s not hurting someone. Paul Heyman has been doing some of his all-time best promo work and yet the fans are treating his verbosity as a timeout for a nap. There’s a reason the ratings haven’t been all that great with Lesnar as champion. His win over Undertaker last year at Wrestlemania remains more interesting for a debate than what he’s up to now.

Brock Lesnar played Vince McMahon. UFC played WWE. Lesnar played UFC. They all played each other and didn’t bother hiding it. In the end, WWE predictably caved. Lesnar decided he didn’t want to have Cain Velasquez put him in a fetal position again. And UFC was prepared to give Lesnar the moon and the stars. For all of the talk about how much momentum UFC has generated the first four months of 2015, they also know that no one on their roster can reach the ceiling that Lesnar has previously established.

You don’t reportedly offer someone up to 10 times what you were originally paying them unless you’re really desperate. Brock Lesnar sells PPVs. He’s not a regular ratings attraction or a gate attraction. He’s a big money fight guy and that’s it. Even with UFC diversifying their business model, PPV still is a critical component and Lesnar trumps anyone they have in selling PPVs. Earlier in the week, I received an e-mail purporting to be from the University of Missouri and it was touting a UFC marketing study which stated the obvious: the heavyweight fights sell the most PPVs for UFC by a significant margin. The current depth of the MMA heavyweight scene is bleak. Brock Lesnar could still fit into the MMA scene in 2015 because of this. Unlike the other weight classes, Heavyweight mostly remains stuck in time. This was the leverage Lesnar possessed. A stale heavyweight scene with an oft-injured champion and on-going TV exposure thanks to WWE.

So why the desperation from both UFC & WWE to obtain Lesnar’s services when his current WWE run has been rather milquetoast for the most part? Fear. With New York state looking very likely to pass MMA legislation soon, the very last thing Vince McMahon wants to see is UFC running an event on his home turf at Madison Square Garden with Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir as the main event. Lesnar headlining MSG for UFC would have been a killer to Vince. WWE helped boost the modern UFC era with RAW as the Spike TV lead-in for Ultimate Fighter. That turned out to be a difficult pill to swallow for McMahon. Lesnar headlining MSG for UFC’s entrance into New York would have burned Vince’s ass.

WWE ended up paying for a new deal with Brock Lesnar. Who knows how this next run will turn out. Strangely enough, Lesnar has more intriguing rivals in UFC than he currently does in WWE after Wrestlemania. I suspect more fans would be interested in Lesnar/Mir III than Lesnar/Undertaker: the rematch. Curiously, Lesnar’s return to WWE will be linked with CM Punk’s tenure in UFC. Who ended up with the better end of the bargain? That question has been asked several times over the weekend in Bay Area media circles. Get used to hearing it more as the hype starts for Punk’s first UFC bout.

Topics: MMA, Media, Pro-Wrestling, UFC, WWE, Zach Arnold | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

6 years after cheating scandal, California’s on the run over Javier Capetillo’s new license

By Zach Arnold | March 19, 2015

Antonio Margarito’s boxing trainer, Javier Capetillo, had his California license revoked in 2009. He was issued a new seconds license in 2014. And now the California State Athletic Commission claims they never gave him a new license despite their own documentation stating a new license was granted on September 22nd, 2014.

The story of Javier Capetillo, current trainer/second for Margarito’s fighters, is well-documented. In January of 2009, trainer Naazim Richardson busted Antonio Margarito for illegal hand-wraps. Writer Paul Magno shared his disgust on the situation in this article. Richardson alerted Athletic Commission representatives, which included athletic inspectors Che Guevara & Mike Bray along with Chief Athletic Inspector Dean Lohuis.

After the California State Athletic Commission disciplinary hearing for both Margarito & Capetillo, the careers of Bray & Lohuis were destroyed in a fit of retaliation because they told the truth about the Margarito incident. Inexplicably, Guevara was rewarded Lohuis’s job as Chief Athletic Inspector.

Margarito was suspended by the Athletic Commission body for one year. Capetillo lost his license because Margarito got busted for plaster of paris. The incident immediately triggered memories of Panama Lewis & Luis Resto in New York circa 1983. “Murder, plain and simple” as writer Randy Gordon claimed at the time. The movie Assault in the Ring is available on Amazon Instant Video.

New York’s athletic commission denied Luis Resto a second’s license. It appears California is a more forgiving place for cheaters and approving a 59 year old woman a fight against a 300-pounder.

ESPN Deportes reported that Javier Capetillo had been granted a seconds license in September of 2014 to work in California. Possessing such a license would signal the OK to other state athletic commissions to approve Capetillo if requested. Official athletic commission documentation, dated March 5th, 2015 reveals that Capetillo was licensed as a second:

Alternatively, Capetillo is not listed by the Athletic Commission as possessing a trainer’s license despite the fact that he trains boxers in Montebello, California at Ponce De Leon Boxing Club and in Mexico. In November of 2014, Capetillo was interviewed about obtaining his seconds license in California:

Since this video was posted on Youtube, here is a timeline of recent events:

1. If the Athletic Commission approved a new license administratively for Javier Capetillo, what legal grounds did Jerry Belmontes and his camp have in getting Capetillo removed from the show?

2. What legal grounds did the Athletic Commission have in not allowing Capetillo to work the show if their own official documentation said he was licensed?

On March 18th, 2015, we received the following response from the Athletic Commission to our CPRA request for Capetillo’s license application form:

The California State Athletic Commission has received your request for public records. Under the Information Practices Act, if an application for license is not granted, the application is exempt from disclosure. Mr. Javier Capetillo applied for licensure in September 2014, and was not issued a license.

This contradicts the status of Javier Capetillo’s license as stated on the Athletic Commission’s own web site:

Exhausting administrative remedy, we will file a formal complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs to request the licensing application form Javier Capetillo filled out.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | 4 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Kings (of) MMA: Rafael Dos Anjos & Rafael Cordeiro eat the Wheaties

By Zach Arnold | March 14, 2015

ESPN’s initial headline coming out of the UFC 185 main event was: dos Anjos embarrasses Pettis

UFC 185 on Saturday night in Dallas, Texas:

A lot of one-sided fights. And the heavyweight fight on the prelims with Jake Rosholt was… something. Mike Goldberg was hyping the UFC HW division as talent-filled. That… it is not.

As for the ladies’ title fight:

This card had nowhere near the buzz despite, on paper, looking significantly more attractive than UFC 184 at Staples Center. There was a tip off that internal projections must not have been super hot:

Irregardless of how well this card drew (or didn’t) on PPV, I have all the respect in the world for what Rafael Cordeiro has accomplished as an MMA coach over the last two decades. He’s a Hall-of-Famer when it is all said and done. He simply manages to draw the best out of the fighters he works with. Well deserving of high praise & recognition. No matter how big the stage his fighters perform on, they do well. Kings MMA.

This Patrick Wyman feature at Sherdog from last February with Rafael Cordeiro is mandatory reading material.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Governor Jerry Brown appoints his brother-in-law to California State Athletic Commission

By Zach Arnold | March 11, 2015

Two rather intriguing appointments made by Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday. The athletic commission body members currently:

Dr. VanBuren Ross Lemons, a Sacramento doctor, was termed out from the board. Appointed today:

Van Gordon Sauter, 79, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the California State Athletic Commission. Sauter is former president of CBS News and Fox News. He began his career producing television commercials for a large advertising agency in New York City and later entered journalism. He worked as a newspaper reporter in New Bedford, Detroit and Chicago, Illinois, reporting on Vietnam, civil rights and urban violence. Sauter was also a television anchorman in Chicago, Illinois and CBS News bureau chief in Paris, France. He is the author of three non-fiction books, including the recently published coffee table book, “The Sun Valley Story,” an anecdotal history of the nation’s premiere heritage ski resort. Sauter is a former chairman of the California State Athletic Commission. He earned a Master of Arts degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Sauter is registered without party preference.

Vernon B. Williams, 47, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the California State Athletic Commission. Williams has been chief medical officer at the Sports Concussion Institute since 2007, where he was director of the pain management clinic from 2005 to 2007, and has been director of pain management at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic since 1997. He was medical director at HealthSouth Physical Therapy from 1999 to 2005 and an investigator and staff clinician at Innovative Medical Research Inc. from 1994 to 1997. Williams was director of medical student core neurology curriculum at the University of Maryland Medical Center Department of Neurology from 1995 to 1996. He is chair of the American Academy of Neurology’s Sport Neurology Section and is a founding director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine’s Sports Neurology Fellowship at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, where he is a founding director of the Center for Sports Neurology and chief compliance officer of the Compliance Committee. Williams earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Michigan. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Williams is a Democrat.

Van Gordon Sauter used to be Chairman of the Athletic Commission over a decade ago. Bill Plaschke in The LA Times (April of 2003) ripped into Van Gordon Sauter for pushing approval to let Mike Tyson fight at Staples Center.

“It’s not like we’re licensing a wicket-keeper in a cricket match,” Sauter said. “This is not a tidy business.”

“Well, once you get past the social issues, there’s the obvious huge boost that the fight will bring to the city’s economy,” said Sauter.

The Los Angeles Times points out that Governor Brown’s press release on Sauter’s appointment did not mention the family tie-in.

Remember when I said how politicized California’s athletic commission is and how all the big boys in Sacramento, for one reason or another, obsess with getting their hands involved in Athletic Commission decision making despite the fact that the agency has a miniscule budget?

To fill up the final two slots on the Athletic Commission, we now have two more Southern California individuals. Nobody from Northern California. To not see anyone from Northern California on the athletic commission board is politically remarkable. The one guy on the board who has juice in Sacramento is Carvelli due to his monied connections.

What this likely cements is that the Athletic Commission meetings will continue to stay away from Sacramento. I understand the ulterior motive of wanting to try to keep as many people from Consumer Affairs away as possible from the meetings. However, having zero representation from Northern California on the board and having one meeting a year in Sacramento is a complete disadvantage for anyone not in Southern California who wants to actually participate.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Al Haymon’s PBC boxing experiment only works if he cashes in on PPV

By Zach Arnold | March 7, 2015

After watching the debut of Al Haymon’s PBC promotion on NBC with Robert Guerrero vs. Keith Thurman, my impression of what Haymon is attempting to accomplish in his business venture remained unchanged. This business venture will only work if Haymon can convince his television partners long-term to do barter deals instead of massive pay-for-play contracts. The only value for being on network television at this point is if the TV network is all-in promoting the shows (which was not the case with NBC for Saturday’s event) or if Haymon can build up his fighters to cash in on PPV. It’s no different than all the money marks who have tried to compete with UFC over the years. The difference is that Haymon is reportedly bankrolled by a couple of hundred million dollars.

In many ways, I’m not sure what historical context fits best here. We know Haymon would love to create a UFC-style model. By paying television networks money to air shows, it turns those very networks against paying out a lot of money to other promoters for shows. We’ve heard the rumblings, via Steve Kim, that ESPN is growing tired of paying money for Friday Night Fight events. In that respect, Haymon’s ploy feels a bit like Vince McMahon raiding the territories in the 80s and pushing them off the television landscape. The difference is that Top Rank still has HBO in their corner.

With the way Haymon is reportedly using money mark cash, it reminds me a bit of the SWS experiment gone wrong in Japan in the early 90s. In April of 1990, All Japan worked with Vince McMahon for the Wrestling Summit event at the Tokyo Dome and New Japan participated as well. McMahon had his various odd requests for certain things on the show. Anyhow, the match that would forever change history there was Gen’ichiro Tenryu vs. Randy Savage. After the spectacle drew big heat, Tenryu and associates bolted All Japan and created SWS the next year. They poached the WWE alliance and thought it would work. It failed. SWS had visions of getting on network TV ala Haymon’s PBC but couldn’t do it. The major difference is that PPV has never been a factor in Japan whereas it is the financial lynchpin for combat sports in North America. The other difference is that Tenryu escaped his SWS failure by turning out to be one of the most brilliant self-promoters ever by working with all the other major promoters. Haymon’s not a star to any casual boxing fan and I’m not sure how many promoters will work with him if PBC fails.

So, I’m not sure the SWS analogy totally fits with what Haymon is trying to pull off. What about an analogy to PRIDE? PRIDE lost big cash under Hiromichi Momose and ended up under the auspices of Fuji TV. Fuji TV pumped in significant cash. A couple hundred million bucks. It proved to draw huge ratings. Sometimes nearly 20 million viewers. The difference is that Fuji TV had the major ad agencies on their side and easily racked up the inventory. With Antonio Inoki’s vision, Fuji TV turned New Year’s Eve into the mega-holiday in all of combat sports. Of course, PRIDE allegedly turned out to be nothing more than a vehicle for different business factions to pass money through with various dummy companies supposedly attached to the operation. I don’t see Haymon’s PBC turning out to be like PRIDE. If UFC hasn’t been able to turn their numbers on Fox into PRIDE-style broadcast TV ratings with Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos, I seriously doubt Haymon’s going to do the same with Broner or Thurman.

PRIDE worked because Fuji TV had skin in the game. The US networks have no skin in the game with Al Haymon. UFC worked because The Ultimate Fighter clicked and Spike TV went all-in, which in turn helped PPV grow with Tito Ortiz & Ken Shamrock. In order for Haymon to get any return on investment to his financial backers, he will have to get them money on the back-end from PPV or else get money through network television advertising. I could perhaps see the former but definitely not the latter.

While I was happy to watch the NBC show, I’m still uncertain on what the long game is here and why NBC will look at PBC any differently than they look at a standard NHL game they put on Saturday night to fill television time.

Topics: Boxing, Media, Zach Arnold | 13 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Ronda melts down the internet; if UFC can’t convince fans of real challengers, then what?

By Zach Arnold | February 28, 2015

A crazy amount of storylines from Saturday’s UFC 184 event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

First, Brock Lesnar showed up to meet Dana White. Lesnar was reportedly supposed to appear on RAW this past Monday, only to not appear on television. Here’s Lesnar playing off two very powerful businessmen with ease and he’s doing it around Wrestlemania time. WWE has always structured their booking for Wrestlemania. To have such upheavel with their champion heading into the Santa Clara event is remarkable.

There was madness all over the card from top to bottom. Ronda Rousey dispatched of Cat Zingano in 14 seconds, leading ESPN anchors to pontificate if she should be fighting male fighters now. If you thought last year’s malarkey about Ronda fighting Mayweather was scripted PR insanity, the calls now for Ronda vs. male fighters is going to ramp up in a big way. Interesting that ESPN anchor Kevin Connors point-blank asked Chael Sonnen if UFC pulled the wool over the eyes of the public by trying to sell Zingano as a credible challenger to Rousey.

The semi-main event featured the UFC debut of Holly Holm. Before the PPV card started, Dana White remarked that he would expect to see some jitters from Holm and that it may take some time for her to get acclimated to fighting on such a big stage. He couldn’t have been more on point. She’s not ready to fight Ronda at this point in time.

It’s obvious that Cyborg is who Ronda will face in her next big fight, but can Cyborg make weight or will they bite the bullet and fight at a catchweight of 140 pounds? If Cyborg can’t fight until the end of the year against Ronda, who do they match Ronda with on one of their Summer cards?

Addendum: Bethe Correia makes a lot of sense. I’m not sure if the public will buy her as a serious threat even though the heat between her and Rousey is very real. It may not matter now, given that Ronda is reportedly going to film a movie soon.

Interesting headline at Fox Sports: Ronda Rousey is the UFC’s Mike Tyson but that’s not necessarily a good thing

Jake Ellenberger and Roan Carneiro brought the chokes and it was a little scary to see what was done to Mark Munoz. The referee, Jerin Valel, let the choke go on for way too long. He was third-in-line behind the usual hands, Big John McCarthy and Herb Dean. Jason Herzog did not referee on the card.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 34 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

A legislative push to extend the California State Athletic Commission into 2020

By Zach Arnold | February 27, 2015

On Wednesday, California state senator Jerry Hill (D – San Mateo) introduced Senate Bill 469. The bill would extend the life of the California State Athletic Commission by four years. Currently, the Athletic Commission is set to sunset on January 1, 2016. SB469 will extend that sunset date by four years to 2020.

The juxtaposition of this news to what is happening in the pre-trial motions of the Leland Yee case is interesting to watch play out. Yee’s lawyer is reportedly asking for extra time until August before they have to make a final decision on whether or not to play Let’s Make a Deal with the Feds. That trial is/was scheduled for June. One of the allegations the Feds leveled against Yee and his political consultant was the charge of supposed extortion against the Athletic Commission. If Yee roll the dice and heads to trial, the Feds will have to show their evidence regarding these allegations.

In other Athletic Commission-related news, no movement to report in both the Assembly & Senate Budget Act 2015 bills that would increase the spending authority from $1.2 million a year to $1.44 million a year.

On a curious side note, recent lobbying records publicly filed by Zuffa LLC & Station Casinos LLC in Sacramento show both donations & expenditures involving Assemblyman Luis Alejo. Three years ago, Alejo was pushing Assembly Bill 2100 in California. AB 2100 would have allowed MMA fighters to tap into the Boxer’s Pension Fund and would have subjected promoters to regulations regarding adhesive/coercive contracts. AB 2100 predictably died.

As for this weekend’s activities in Southern California, quite the slate with Golden Boy at Fantasy Springs, Invicta, and then UFC at Staples Center. Here’s this Washington Post article: The best fighter in male-dominated MMA might just be a woman. Jake Rossen at ESPN has an article asking whether or not MMA gyms have a sexual harassment problem. He manages to tie in Ronda Rousey’s judo career into the discussion.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

A public service announcement for a California State Athletic Commission survey

By Zach Arnold | February 23, 2015

Dear Valued Stakeholder,

The California State Athletic Commission is beginning the development of its strategic plan for 2016-2019. The Department of Consumer Affairs, SOLID Planning Solutions (SOLID) is assisting the Commission with its strategic planning process.

As a stakeholder involved with the profession, you have an important perspective and stake in the success of the Commission. Your completed survey will provide input as to how the Commission is doing by identifying strengths, challenges, and current trends to consider for the future direction of the Commission.

Thank you for taking time to participate in this short survey. All responses are anonymous. This will allow us to add your feedback to our analysis as we prepare our strategic plan.

SURVEY LINK: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CSAC2016SP

Thank you for participating in this survey. Your valuable input is appreciated by the California Athletic Commission. If you have any questions or additional comments, please contact Ted Evans in SOLID Planning Solutions at (916) 574-8394 or Ted.Evans@dca.ca.gov.

Topics: CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Will UFC’s 2015 NYE super fight feature Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar?

By Zach Arnold | February 22, 2015

A proposal so crazy yet so obvious, it just might work a half a decade later. Too bad Frank Mir didn’t call out Brock Lesnar after tagging Bigfoot Silva in Porto Alegre:

Sunday’s fight between Bigfoot Silva and Frank Mir was highly ironic given their… updated… stance on testosterone usage that they declared a few days ago.

There are lots of impactful match-ups for UFC to book this calendar year but Mir/Lesnar still carries more marketing punch than anything on the horizon sans Jon Jones/Anthony Johnson. Stacked cards are valuable but so is veteran star power. Plus, Mir vs. Lesnar is a fight that’s on the edge of UFC Heavyweight importance — neither guy is as good as Werdum or Cain, but they’re good enough to be taken seriously with such a shallow talent pool in the division. Mark Hunt and Roy Nelson are still fighting.

As for UFC’s card Sunday night in Brazil…

A brutal night for the favorites.

Onto Staples Center for Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano. I’m not sure most casual fans know the other fights on the card… Hey, Gleison Tibau is fighting a month after his split decision win in Boston.

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Andy Foster in California doubles down on using anonymous judges for performance reviews

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:

Onto the details…

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 2 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

The devil is in the details for UFC’s new drug policy

By Zach Arnold | February 18, 2015

There were high expectations heading into Wednesday’s Las Vegas presser with Dana White & Lorenzo Fertitta. How would they handle the public relations for all of the recent failed drug tests?

If you listened to Jordan Breen and Greg Savage on Cheap Seats, the expectation games for Wednesday’s presser was very high. Just what exactly would be concretely established by UFC given their history over the last five years with several high-profile fighters using testosterone? Dave Meltzer wrote an article comparing MMA’s drug plague to tackling America’s national debt.

Wednesday’s presser started out horrifically, got better after the first few minutes, and then got muddied with “we haven’t fully determined what the details are” answers in the media Q & A session.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: MMA, Media, UFC, Zach Arnold | 8 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Law and leadership, not shadow tribunals, is the way to fix bad officiating in California

By Zach Arnold | February 15, 2015

There is a problem with the quality of judging & officiating of certain boxing fights in the state of California. There is a built-in procedure to handle the discipline of referees & judges who have demonstrated a lack of proficiency in performing to the standards of their required job duties:

Call the officials in question to attend a State Athletic Commission meeting. Give them the right to a public, private, or public/private combination hearing regarding their job status. If you’re going to suspend them and/or strip them of their license, you have the Athletic Commission as a whole make that determination.

Here’s what you don’t do if you want to avoid litigation.

Continue reading this article here…

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, Media, Zach Arnold | No Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

Friday news dump: Sacramento tells commission to not give fighters testosterone exemptions

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.

Sincerely,

Awet Kidane, Director
Department of Consumer Affairs

cc:
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.

Topics: Boxing, CSAC, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 1 Comment » | Permalink | Trackback |

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