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California’s battle over amateur MMA, drug testing, and inspectors

By Zach Arnold | December 6, 2012

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I noticed that the one real media storyline for the upcoming Manny Pacquiao/Juan Manuel Marquez 4 fight this week is the battle of words over PED usage from the two camps. Keith Kizer didn’t do random drug testing of either fighter. Combine that with the steroid history of Marquez’s conditioning coach (Angel Heredia) and doping is now a talking point heading into Saturday night’s contest.

The fight is taking place in Las Vegas and the topic of steroids is… well, topical. On Friday at 9 AM, the Nevada State Athletic Commission will be holding a telephone conference call regarding their “Steroid and Drug Testing Advisory Panel. The meeting room will be on the Third Floor of the Grant Sawyer State Office Building (Suit 3018), 555 East Washington Avenue. Unfortunately, the commission isn’t releasing a conference call # for the public to call and listen, which is probably more of a feature for Keith Kizer than a bug. If you’re a member of the media and interested in listening in, the commission’s number is 702-486-2575.

The 9 AM Friday time is ridiculous, but again that’s more of a feature than a bug when it comes to limiting the amount of people who show up for these meetings. The Department of Consumer Affairs is pulling the same stunt and has been having meetings at 9 AM. They held a meeting this past Monday in Los Angeles and there was no multimedia available online for the public. However, we did have some people on the ground who attended the meeting and there were several topics — including California’s ability to handle drug testing — that popped up for public consumption.

The massive document dump of meeting materials for the LA meeting should give you a clue about the direction of CSAC in 2013. On page 40 of the PDF, there’s this… curious… item about California’s drug testing procedures:

“While the success of this program is difficult to document, the Commission does identify dopers and deals with them through the fining and hearing process. This is done in cooperation with the office of the Attorney General. In comparison with many other jurisdictions, California is truly a model for drug testing and enforcement.”

After Andre Berto failed his VADA test in the Summer, Che Guevara & DCA let Berto fight Robert Guerrero a couple of weeks ago. Yep.

And then there’s this passage from CSAC’s document dump:

“Primarily testosterone is the main drug of choice for mixed martial arts athletes. Testosterone is a favorite not because of the physical look the hormone provides, but due to the increased recovery time between training sessions leading up to the fight. We are looking to make improvements by adopting ABC recommendations and also by reviewing world anti-doping agency standards.”

Anyone who has followed the way California has handled the issue of drug testings knows just how embarrassing Sacramento’s behavior has been. Nevada, ground zero in giving out hall passes for testosterone, is even worse. Keith Kizer has done more to ramp up the acceptance of testosterone usage in MMA than anyone else. Of course, the UFC’s two-faced anti-marijuana metabolite, pro-testosterone policies have contributed greatly to the matter. When you give fighters six month suspensions for marijuana but grant exemptions for testosterone, your priorities are completely backwards.

Karen Chappelle, the execrable fool from the state’s AG office in Los Angeles, should not be working drug testing cases in California. However, she’s been allowed to congregate with another fool, Che Guevara, whenever there are disciplinary matters in front of the commission. Chappelle and Guevara have damaged the credibility of California’s commission when it comes to drug testing and disciplinary matters. Until these two clowns are removed from the process, there is no way in hell that California can look at the public with a straight face and say that they know what they are doing with managing drug testing protocols correctly.

Regarding California’s official position on testosterone usage in MMA, it is accurate to say that healing from an injury is a reason for T’s usage. However, T is used just as much to increase strength and gain KO power as it is for the purposes of healing from injury.

The impact of qualified vs. incompetent inspectors on enforcement of drug testing protocols

In order for California to have people on the ground who know what the hell they are doing with drug testing, you have to actually book competent inspectors for the shows you are regulating. Unfortunately, there are too many incompetent inspectors on the ground who are regulating shows while more talented individuals are on the sidelines due to politics and money. For example, using three or four inspectors for a show just isn’t good enough given the lack of depth in quality inspectors. If we’re talking five or ten years ago, OK, I could see how you could run a show with a minimal crew if you had guys like Joe Borielli in charge. However, when you have individuals like Che Guevara and Anthony Olivas (he of Oxnard fame), you can see how things get screwed up in a hurry.

In Monday’s document dump, here’s where the Commission stands with inspectors:

“The Commission believes the ideal number of athletic inspectors assigned to an event is five to six. … Although we recognize that five to six athletic inspectors is ideal, we must live within our budgeted spending authority. As a result, we have been able to reduce the number of athletic inspectors assigned to an event from the ideal of five to six, to four per event.”

“Fiscal Controls are now established limiting the number of hours and travel to events. … The Commission is working with the Department of Consumer Affairs Human Resource office to develop a third class of inspector who will be paid on a per event basis.”

Let’s review all the non-binding, illegal policy decisions that DCA has pushed this year for inspectors.

Their first band-aid to try to fix their inspector problems was to try to get inspectors to sign coercive contracts of adhesion called Volunteer Service Agreements. That flopped, so the next trick from DCA was to get a state memo stating that they don’t have to pay for inspector’s travel costs based on Federal labor law. What the memo intentionally avoided was state labor law, which supersedes Federal labor law because Federal labor law is considered a floor and not a ceiling. You can read all about this right here. Based on this faulty legal opinion, DCA is now creating different classifications for inspectors so that they can stiff non-lead inspectors on pay for certain items while the leads (i.e. the ass-kissers, political favorites, cronies) continue getting paid. The next step, now, is to create yet another inspector classification, this time on a per-show basis. Only in California could you witness more layers being created upon layers of rules & regulations that already exist on the books.

The end result of all of this? Absolutely none of these moves would hold up in a court of law. In other words, one lawsuit from one inspector destroys the schemes in place to try to artificially & illegal curb inspector costs in California. DCA’s calculated opinion is that the few competent inspectors that currently exist are too chicken to file a lawsuit. Therefore, they can get away with their actions. So far, their calculation has proven to be right. None of the qualified inspectors wants to file the proper lawsuit. The result is that Che Guevara and his cronies are benefiting while those who should be taking a stand won’t do so. The new policies are driving away qualified inspectors, which means the level of quality for regulation will decrease. It means more mistakes will happen at shows. Like mistakes with drug testing.

There is word that new inspectors are being hired and that some of the old guard of inspectors are being pushed aside. If the inspectors getting pushed out in favor of less qualified inspectors decide to go the Dwayne Woodard route, DCA & CSAC will be facing some legal headaches from an age discrimination & retaliation lawsuit (or two).

On page 91 of the Monday document dump, there is a training manual by Che Guevara for the inspectors. Remember, Che got his job after he failed to see the illegal hand-wraps of Antonio Margarito. Instead of getting fired, he got promoted by the Department of Consumer Affairs, perjured himself (along with Karen Chappelle) at the disciplinary hearing, and got people who had nothing to do with his mistakes fired from their jobs. In the section called “Ethics, Ethics, and some more Ethics,” Guevara has these gems in the manual:

“Do not fraternize with licensees, including attending after parties or post-fight functions”

“Report the spreading of rumors or untrue information to Commission Staff immediately”

“If you see that something is against the rules, unfair, unsafe or unethical: NOTIFY SOMEONE!”

I guess Che missed the boat on the inspectors who drink at the wet bars after shows (Jordan Breen has witnessed this in the past). I guess Che’s a bit nervous about us. Che lecturing anyone about notification of illegal activity is priceless. He got his job based on not following this piece of advice. He’s also someone who won’t do a damn thing, outside of an occasional cease & desist letter, to stop illegal events from happening in the state. Anyone who thinks that this guy is some harmless stooge in over-his-head is clueless about what a dangerous, reckless force he has become in the deterioration of California fight sports regulation. There’s no other way to put it.

The battle over amateur MMA regulation in California

In addition to the battles over drug testing protocols & management of inspectors, new California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster is now engaged in a battle over the way amateur MMA regulation is changed in California. Currently, Jeremy Lappen & JT Steele regulate amateur MMA in the state through their CAMO delegation.

Andy Foster has a big role in regards to the development of MMA regulation for the Association of Boxing Commissions. He has their own opinions about how amateur MMA should be regulated in California. Throw in the fact that California promoters had a choice between CSAC or CAMO regulating amateur MMA fights and you have a political battle on your hands here.

Recently, the practice of CSAC itself regulating amateur MMA fights was halted. However, Andy Foster sent a letter to the usually-powerless members of the CSAC panel to change the protocols for amateur MMA regulation in the state. From page 170 of the Monday document dump:

“Dear Commissioners,

I have included the unified rules of amateur MMA on the agenda. I would encourage the Commission to consider directing me to being the process of adopting them as regulations. … The main rule difference between these rules and the commonly accepted amateur MMA rules is there is no punches to the head on the ground for the first three fights. Also, shin pads are worn. After three fights, if both fighters agree the rules move to an advanced division which allows punches to the head of a grounded fighter. While I have no medical evidence to provide that no punches to the head of a grounded fighter is a safer rule set, I would hope that common sense dictates that it would be.

Many young martial artists are entering competition earlier than in the past. These rules allow a safer transition to professional mixed martial arts than the current amateur rules used in California. I do think that this would be a change to the industry, and some may be resistant but the health and welfare of the contestants is the Commission’s primary concern. These are safe rules that will better protect our amateur mixed martial artists and I recommend that the Commission direct me to begin the process to adopt them as regulations.”

At Monday’s hearing, the proposed changes were tabled by the commission members. It was a temporary win for CAMO and a temporary set back for Andy Foster. You win some, you lose some battles. Expect things to heat up very quickly in 2013 in the California fight sports regulatory landscape.

To put things into perspective, Andy Foster is facing a situation where projected revenues for California over the next two years are $1.4 million & $1.6 million. There’s currently $208,000 in the bank account. Despite the fact that California is entirely broke, Governor Jerry Brown has budgeted $1.9 million dollars for each of the next two years. On paper, it looks relatively easy for Andy Foster to repair the commission’s finances and have a surplus.

Curiously, after DCA forced out George Dodd through resignation based on claims that DCA needed to get CSAC a loan, Monday’s document dump claims that the commission doesn’t have any outstanding loans to the state’s General Fund. This completely goes against all of the phony emergency meetings that DCA had in late June and July to approve of DCA’s money fixers in getting loans to the commission. Now the official position is that there aren’t any loans from the state’s General Fund.

Putting aside all of the financial & political issues facing CSAC, the biggest problem is that the pool of available event promoters in the state is shrinking. For Fiscal Year 2011-2012, there were only 61 licensed promoters (permanent & temporary). Unfortunately for California, this list includes the deadbeats from Oxnard (Raul Orozco & Armando Renteria). You can thank Che Guevara for licensing idiots like Orozco & Renteria. In a happy ending on the Oxnard situation, Andy Foster made sure that all the fighters who got screwed on that show got 100% of their money. He made sure that the bond was fully hit for the Oxnard deadbeats, which is something the wretched Kathi Burns & DCA legal didn’t want to do.

With a decreasing amount of promoters & shows in the state, Andy Foster’s job of recruiting new promoters & new shows is going to be a difficult task. The economy isn’t getting any better and marginal tax rates are going to increase because of the passage of Prop 30. The challenge is large. You can never say never, but Andy has his work cut out for him.

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

2 Responses to “California’s battle over amateur MMA, drug testing, and inspectors”

  1. John Lovell says:

    Kudos to Andy Foster for making sure that the Oxnard fighters who had been stiffed by promoters got paid! An Executive Officer who cares about the fighters is a welcome gust of fresh breeze.

  2. Andy (Punch Drunk) Foster needs to go back to Georgia where he belongs. He bans a light contact Martial Art known as Pankration but allows Full Contact Muay Thai Smokers to continue.

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