Archive for September, 2013

When the UFC enters markets that don’t have compulsive drug tests some questions spring to mind such as what, if any, performance enhancing drugs are outlawed for such shows?  Are Therapeutic Use Exemptions ever granted and if so who is in charge of granting these?

The UFC’s latest event in Ontario provided an opportunity to explore some of these questions.  As recently discussed, the Ontario Athletic Commission “does not have a list of prohibited drugs” and they specifically defer to the UFC with respect to which PED’s would be outlawed.   I reached out to the UFC to see which specific drugs were outlawed for UFC 165 and they responded, not surprisingly, that they “would test for the same prohibited substances as we always do which are based on the list prohibited under the WADA guidelines.“.

Since the WADA guidelines also allow for Therapeutic Use Exemptions to be granted I asked whether these were in fact allowed when the UFC enters a market that does not have a list of prohibited substances and if so, who was in charge of granting these.   Steve Keogh from the UFC’s public relations department responded as follows:

“The UFC does not grant therapeutic use exemptions.  The UFC ensures that any athletes using any substance banned by WADA, comply with the requirements set forth by the Nevada State Athletic Commission with respect to their TUE policy which can be found on their website at 

http://boxing.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/boxingnvgov/content/faq/TUE-NSAC.pdf

(for TUE’s generally) and 

http://boxing.nv.gov/uploadedFiles/boxingnvgov/content/faq/TRT_TUE_GUIDELINES_03-12-12.pdf

(for testosterone TUE’s).

There were no fighters that were competing under any TUE at UFC 165.”

So the UFC apparently does not grant TUE’s when entering an unregulated market but an athlete can use prohibited substances so long as they comply with the Nevada State Athletic Commission TUE policy.  Interestingly the above statement does not appear to go so far as to require a TUE from the NSAC but simply that the UFC be satisfied that an athlete who uses a WADA banned substance prove that the below criteria are affirmatively answered:

A TUE will be granted only in strict accordance with the following criteria:
a. The unarmed combatant would experience a significant impairment to health if
the prohibited substance or prohibited method were to be withheld in the course of treating
an acute or chronic medical condition.
b. The therapeutic use of the prohibited substance or prohibited method would
produce no additional enhancement of performance other than that which might be
anticipated by a return to a state of normal health following the treatment of a legitimate
medical condition. The use of any prohibited substance or prohibited method to increase
“lownormal” (or above) levels of any endogenous hormone is not considered an
acceptable therapeutic intervention.
c. There is no reasonable therapeutic alternative to the use of the otherwise
prohibited substance or prohibited method.
d. The necessity for the use of the otherwise prohibited substance or prohibited
method cannot be a consequence, wholly or in part, of the prior use, without a TUE, of a
substance or method which was prohibited at the time of use.

Update October 7, 2013MMAJunkie just published an article with Dr Benjamin calling for specific weight cut reforms as follows:

  • Multiple, official, random year-round weigh-ins to establish every fighter’s “normal” weight
  • Fighters barred from competing in a weight class that’s lighter than 90 percent of their established normal weight
  • Short-notice (less than 30 days) fights cannot be offered to fighters greater than 5 percent of their weight limit
  • Fighter can be no more than 10 percent over the weight limit 30 days prior to date of fight
  • Fighter can be no more than 5 percent over the weight limit 10 days prior to date of fight
  • Utilize urine specific gravity via refractometer to assess hydration

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Update October 5, 2013 – Bloody Elbow results another MMA Weight Cut related health issue with Rodrigo Damm being forced out of UFC Fight Night 29 due to Kidney Issues caused by a drastic weight cut.

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Earlier this year I discussed the dangers of drastic weight cuts in combat sports asking which jurisdiction or organization will have the foresight and initiative to address this issue first?   Unfortunately the answer was none and it appears now that the sport has a weight cut related fatality on its hands.

MixedMartialArts.com reports thatNova Uniao flyweight fighter Leandro “Feijao” Souza passed away while cutting weight Thursday for Friday’s ShootoBrazil 43 card in Rio de Janeiro. He was 26 years old.  Souza reportedly passed out in the sauna, and was transported to the hospital, where he was declared dead. He had two pounds to go to make weight.

An extreme weight cut related tragedy is a foreseeable risk given some of the current practices in the sport.  Leading MMA nutritionist and weight cutting expert Mike Dolce confirms that unhealthy practices are a reality in the sport providing the following comments on September 30, 2013’s edition of the MMA Hour “I always felt bad for the athletes that were cutting weight improperly, that were resorting to these dehydration techniques in order to make weight days before competition,  living on virtually zero calories days before weigh ins and competition.  A big part of it unfortunately is a misinformed coaching staff and team around them.” Dolce went on to comment on the unhealthy reality of the current system’s practice of weigh in’s and competition weight with the following comments “Weight cutting is not healthy and I’m the first to say that.  If it were up me to athletes would compete at their wake up weight, that’s when they open their eyes first thing in the morning, they put their feet on the ground, they use the restroom and then they step on the scale afterwards.  That’s the wake up weight.  That’s the ideal weight, that’s what you should weigh.

Combat Sports promotions and regulators need to acknowledge that dangerous practices exist and address the issue to avoid further tragedy.  The NCAA has managed to incorporate regulations which create safeguards against dangerous weight cut practices.  There is no reason why the professional combat sports community cannot adopt some of these or similar standards to allow weight classes to fulfill their intended purposes, namely enhancing participant safety.  Here are the NCAA standards:

1. PROHIBITED PRACTICES.

The use of the following practices is prohibited for any purpose:

vapor impermeable suits (e.g., rubber suits or rubberized nylon);

similar devices used soley for dehydration;

saunas (even off campus);

steam rooms (even off campus);

wrestling room over 75 degrees at start of practice;

hot boxes;

Laxatives (non-prescribed);

emetics;

excessive food and fluid restriction;

self-induced vomiting;

diruetics;

artificial means of rehydration (i.e., intravenous hydration).

Violators of these rules will be suspended for the competition(s) for which the weigh-in is intended. A second violation would result in suspension for the remainder of the season. Coaches aware of vioations are also held to these same penalties.

2. Establish a permanent healthy weight class early in the season.

An initial weight assessment must be completed for each wrestler no earlier than the first day of classes in the fall semester, trimester or quarter and no later than the start of the first official practice (144-day calendar). An exception is permissible for student-athletes participating in a fall sport. In this case, the assessment can be performed during their preseason physical examination. During the initial assessment, a wrestler’s minimum wrestling weight (MWW) will be determined. The MWW is the lowest allowable weight a wrestler can attempt to achieve.

3. Controlled Weight Loss until the first match at the certified weight no later than Dec. 15.

Once a MWW has been established, each wrestler has the option of modifying his weight until the permanent weight class is established prior to the first match at the certified weight (no later than December 15).

Numbers to know:

 

5% Lowest body fat for the MWW.

1.5% Percentage of weight you can lose per week over weight-loss time period.

1.020 Highest urine specific gravity measurement to assess or certify.

24 hours Time between specific gravity tests.

75 (F) Maximum workout room temperature.

4. Certify your weight.

Before you wrestle at your certified weight, you must complete Section II by passing specific gravity and weighing-in at scratch weight for the weight class at which you would like to compete for the rest of the year.

5. Stay at that weight for the entire season.

If you are on the roster at an NCAA institution, you must follow the rules for all collegiate competitions. This means even if you are red-shirting or wrestling in an open tournament when you aren’t with your team or coaches, you have to wrestle at your certified weight and follow NCAA rules. Once you certify, you have to weigh-in at that weight class for the remainder of the season, unless you decide to break your certification at the lower weight and weigh-in at the next higher weight class.

Moving up to wrestle at a higher weight class.

To keep your certification at the lower weight, a wrestler may weigh-in at his certified weight and compete at a higher weight class (no allowance permitted). By weighing in at your certified weight, you are still certified at the lower weight and can return. Should a wrestler weigh-in and compete at a weight class higher than his certified weight, the higher weight class will become the certified weight and the wrestler won’t be able to return to the lower weight, unless an appeal is granted under very strict circumstances.

Appeal to move down to a lower weight class.

Upon granting of an appeal, a wrestler could be permitted to re-certify to a lower weight (no lower than his MWW) only if a vacancy exists in the lower weight class caused by season-ending injury, academic ineligibility, or the certified wrestler at the lower weight class is no longer enrolled at the institution. A vacancy means there are no other wrestlers on the roster certified to compete at the weight class.

6. Weigh-ins.

Location: A private, secure area at the site of the meet or in an adjacent building limited to contestants, coaches and required personnel.

Time:

Dual Meets: One hour prior to first match.

Tournaments: Two hours prior to the first matches on the first day and one hour or less before the first matches begin on subsequent days.

Weight Allowance: Granting weight allowances for a dual meet or tournament is prohibited, nor can a weight allowance be mutually agreed upon.

SUMMARY

The past three years have been a time of change for all those involved in the sport of wrestling. The committees believe these rules changes were necessary to allow skill and technique rather than rapid weight loss to become the tools for success. The changes were also consistent with the committees’ three guiding principles and existing statements of major medical and wrestling groups.

It is difficult to legislate safety. The wrestling community must consider and embrace the spirit as well as the letter of these changes, especially in light of the three fatalities experienced in 1997. These changes are not only in the best interest of the sport, they are also in the best interest and safety of the student-athletes.

When it comes to “Professional” combat sports, Section 83 of the Criminal Code makes them all illegal except a “boxing contest or mixed martial arts contest held in a province with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board, commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the province’s legislature for the control of sport within the province.”

When the Criminal Code was amended earlier this year by Bill S-209, Pat Reid, the Executive Director of the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission, voiced concern that the revision is too restricted and would not allow local athletic commissions to sanction other professional contests such as Kickboxing and Muay Thai. Some thought Reid’s interpretation was off base however the BC Government has just confirmed that they share this restrictive interpretation of the Criminal Code.

In a presentation which aired yesterday, Assistant Deputy Minister David Galbraith confirmed the BC Government’s view that “based on legal counsel’s advice there is not going to be an expansion of professional (combat sports) beyond those two sports (boxing and MMA)“.   When asked specifically if there is a time-frame for the inclusion, at the pro level, of remaining combative sports which are currently not regulated Galbraith replied “based on legal counsel’s advice here in BC and the Provinces interpretation of the Criminal Code….the two sports we can regulate here in BC are boxing and mixed martial arts on a professional basis and until there is a change to that, that will be how and what the Province will be regulating.

This is certainly bad news for anyone hoping to bring in any professional combat sports besides boxing and MMA into BC’s borders.  In practical terms this means that unless the Criminal Code is further amended or unless a Court interprets section 83 of the Criminal Code in a broader way than the BC Government has done all professional combat sports outside of boxing and MMA will remain illegal in BC.   Worse yet, if BC’s interpretation of section 83 is shared by other Provinces then professional Muay Thai and Kickboxing could be illegal across all of Canada.

Given the Herculean effort it took for Bill S-209 to pass there is no realistic possibility of a further amendment to the Criminal Code any time soon.   The only practical hope of changing this reality is for a Court to interpret the Provinces abilities to regulate MMA to include all of the component martial arts that make up the sport.  This is certainly a possibility but only time will tell whether a court is prepared to do so.

The live stream of the BC Government’s presentation addressing combat sports in the Province has now been uploaded.  You can watch here:

 

 

Prestige Fight Club Advertisement

Update June 24, 2014 – The criminal charges have apparently come to end by way of conditional discharge

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Update January 30, 2014– it is now reported that Criminal Charges are being pressed as a result of this event

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Update October 15, 2013 – Marlo Pritchard, Chief of Police for the City of Weyburn, confirms this matter is still under investigation advising as follows “the Weyburn Police Service is investigating an allegation of an unsanctioned MMA event that was held here earlier in the fall. The investigation is ongoing

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Update October 2, 2013 – Melanie Bauman, a lawyer with the Government of Saskatchewan, advises as follows:

The province is making arrangements to form a provincial commission to be operational in the summer of 2014.  As a result, if any professional events are held before the proper legislation and regulations are in place, these events will be illegal. The Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association is the body with authority to sanction amateur combative sports. If amateur events are held without SMAA sanctioning, these events will be illegal.

 Regarding the Sept. 28th Prestige event, the Weyburn City Police are currently investigating the allegation of the event being non-sanctioned.

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Update September 29, 2013 – The event has now taken place and indeed did not have SMAA sanctioning.   Today the SMAA confirms that “the event in Weyburn was never scheduled to be an SMAA sanctioned event.“.  The question now is what, if anything, will be the Province of Saskatchewan’s response.

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Update September 26, 2013MMASucka reports that Prestige FC President Cord Crowthers acknowledges that this event is not sanctioned and will still proceed quoting as follows “The rumors that you hear online are 95%-99% outrageous, the only thing that’s true is that our show is still a non-sanctioned show.”

He provides the following reason for the lack of sanctioning by SMAA:

The bottom line is we met with them on August 30, four weeks before the show along with the government. They absolutely felt that we could have the show sanctioned by the 28th. They told us they couldn’t get the show sanctioned by the 28th – we think that is absolutely untrue since they are doing a show two weeks after our show, just down the road and they have had plenty of time to sanction that show. It is a lot of he said, she said; I don’t like this person, I don’t like that person kind of thing. The SMMA needs to get off their butts, work with all the groups of Saskatchewan, stop playing favorites and realize they’re not a group; they’re a commission now. Their job is not to have me as a member, it’s to oversee my show and make sure we do things right. It’s what everybody wants, but they only want to work with their friends and their so-called partners.

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The Prestige Fight Club is advertising an event scheduled to take place in Weyburn, Saskatchewan on September 28, 2013.

As things currently stand professional MMA is still illegal in Saskatchewan and amateur MMA events can only be legally held  with regulation of the Saskatchewan Martial Arts Association.

I have been advised by  a Senior Policy Analyst for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport that as of today this scheduled event is not sanctioned by the SMAA.   Unless this changes this means that this event will be, on the face of it, in violation of section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code.

The government further advises me that they are aware of this event and that “Conversations have taken place with the local police, city council (and) justice officials“.  It is unclear if this event is still going to proceed but if it does we will all get a first hand glimpse of what the consequences of unsanctioned MMA will be in a post Bill S-209 world.

BC Cobat Sports Live Stream Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Given the new changes in BC’s combat sports landscape the Province is hosting “an online technical briefing for all amateur combat sport groups to help interpret and apply these new regulations to their programming.”  This QandA session will be live streamed on Wednesday September 25, 2013 from 11:00 – 12:00.

You can watch at the following link:

http://www.viasport.ca/live-stream-briefing-presentation-new-combat-sport-event-regulations-bc

Welcome Middle Easy Readers

Posted: September 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

middle easy logo

 

 

 

 

Earlier this month I discussed the bizarre landscape for Performance Enhancing Drug tests in Ontario for professional MMA contests.  The folks at MiddleEasy took notice and highlighted this situation as only they can do.

For those of you visiting this site for the first time, welcome!   The PED situation is not the only curious issue when it comes to MMA regulation in Ontario.  From amateur bouts being technically illegal to unusual restrictions for out of Province fighters, there are several issues which could use legislative change in Ontario.

If you are looking for more on the law of MMA in Ontario you can click here to read my archived posts.

banning trt image

Imagine if pro hockey was legal but all amateur games were against the law.  That is foolish and would never happen right?  Of course not but that’s exactly what’s happening in Ontario with other sports, namely MMA along side many traditional martial arts.

The UFC is making its fourth appearance in Ontario this week.  Despite having the sports biggest organization doing repeat business in the Province amateur MMA still remains technically illegal in Ontario.  You can click here to read why this is so.

Perhaps worse than the AMMA ban, Ontario still is in the dark ages making many traditional martial arts competitions illegal as well.  Given the recent Criminal Code overhaul to section 83, non-Olympic martial arts are illegal by default.   The Ontario government (along with other Provincial governments) have the right to cure this by passing a simple Order in Council.  To date Ontario has failed to act.  This means that if you or your children participate in non Olympic martial arts (think Karate and Jiu Jitsu as two prominent examples) you are breaking the law every time there is an amateur combative competition.

This is a silly gap in the law without valid reason.   I have written to the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport asking when they will remedy this gap.  You can find a copy of my letter here:

Open Letter to the Ontario Ministry of Sport Regarding Amateur MMA

I suggest all Ontario residents who find this gap in the law baffling send similar letters seeking legislative change.

I will update this article once the Ministry responds.

Earlier this year I commended Canada’s TJ Grant for doing the right thing by stepping away from a scheduled UFC title shot due to a concussive injury sustained during practice.  Brain health should not be taken lightly and his choice, as difficult as it must have been, was worth positively highlighting.

A second title shot was set up against newly minted champion Anthony Pettis.  Unfortunately, as sometimes happens with concussive injury, Grant’s symptoms were prolonged and slow to recover.  Tonight he announced on twitter that he will need to step down from this second opportunity with the following updates:

TJ GRant Tweets

Few mixed martial artists rise to the top of the food chain and there are no guaranteed second chances and even fewer third chances in the UFC title landscape.   Stepping aside means a title shot is no longer guaranteed for Grant if and when he is healthy enough to return.   This is a tremendous sacrifice for a professional combatant where fame and fortune are only reached at the very pinnacle of the sport.

In addition to Grant’s leadership, Joe Rogan voiced the below comments in a recent episode of his popular podcast warning aspiring combatants not to take the consequences of head trauma lightly.

There could be any point in time a tipping point. and head trauma is just no joke, and any unnecessary head trauma that you want to introduce in your life, I think is a terrible idea….I don’t even kick box spar…because its not worth it.  Listen to me man, you only can get hit a certain amount of times in your head.  I know a dude who lost his sense of smell, he took a beating and lost his sense of smell, and it was just a one, two head kick combination…Head trauma’s not to be fu**ed withI’ve seen people take some serious punishment and change them as a human being, change the reality of their life, impair their function, its real...I’m not saying that anybody should not do MMA,I think if you’re going to take risks its ridiculous to take risks that have within them the possibility of massive trauma and not do it correctly…I’ve never discouraged someone who wants to actually be a mixed martial artist…I just always say if you’re going to do it remove as many variables as possible “.

Competing while recovering from a lingering concussion is an easily removable variable.  These are wise words from Rogan, a vocal fan of the sport, who arguably has watched more elite live MMA bouts than anyone else.

The above actions and comments from senior figureheads of the sport do well to serve the public that head trauma is no trifling matter.   A positive shout out to both Grant and Rogan for demonstrating concussive leadership in combat sports.

Earlier this month I analyzed the law of facial hair in MMA pointing out that New Jersey has perhaps the most extreme requirements outright banning any beard and only permitting a “closely cropped mustache. “

Section 81 of the Ontario Athletics Control Act specifically adopts the New Jersey Rules for professional MMA.  I reached out to the Ontario Athletic Commissioner to see if this rule is strictly enforced.   Richard Hustwick, the Senior Advisor, Operational Policy and Stakeholder Relations from the AC’s office, advises that they have softened this complete ban and adopted the following policy more sensibly based on safety concerns:

Office of the Athletics Commissioner (OAC) policy is to require that a fighter have no more than a light beard during competition so that it does not interfere with a doctor’s ability to evaluate a facial injury / cut.  Exceptions may be applied on the basis of the Ontario Human Rights Code to accommodate certain fighters.  This policy will be applied to UFC 165 at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on September 21, 2013.

Update September 21, 2013 – Apparently this policy is in full force with Patrick Healey tweeting “The beard has been trimmed by order of the athletic commission” with the following photo as proof:

healey beard trimmed by order of OAC