Is Ben Rothwell’s Elevated TRT Win Really a No Contest?

MMA Junkie broke the news that Ben Rothwell tested positive for elevated testosterone following his victory over Brandon Vera at UFC 164.

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, which oversaw the event, provided an Athletic Commission’s equivalent of a slap on the wrist for this violation by issuing Rothwell an ‘administrative warning’.

Perhaps more surprising than this, however, is the fact that it is reported that the WDSPS will not be overturning the win for the Wisconsin native.  Kevin Iole obtained the following comment from the UFC’s Marc Ratner:

The state had never given out a TUE before and there was nothing in their administrative laws and statutes that allowed them to do more than write him a letter,” said Ratner, the long-time former executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission. “We always try to do the right thing everywhere. If he had had this result in Nevada, he’d have gotten a nine-month suspension, so we felt that was the appropriate thing to do in this case, to suspend him for nine months.”

On closer scrutiny, however, Wisconsin does appear to have the power do more than simply write a letter.  Here is the breakdown:

SPS 196.03(1) reads as follows “Mixed martial arts contestants may not engage in the personal use of drugs, including all anabolic steroids or controlled substances, pursuant to s. 444.095 (3) (c), Stats., while participating in a bout, except when prescribed, dispensed or administered by a licensed physician or dentist for a legitimate medical condition.”

Apparently the WDSPS was satisfied that Rothwell suffered from a “legitimate medical condition” and granted a TUE for TRT.  Like all exemptions, this TUE is not a free for all and the commission set upper limits.   As Iole reports, Rothwell’s results were above the acceptable range.  It is hard to appreciate how having limits higher than he was cleared for does not put Rothwell in violation of this section.   Accepting there is a violation of 196.03(1) we next look at the remedies.

Failed Drug tests result in mandatory discipline under Wisconsin law with 196.03(9) reading as follows “If laboratory testing of a contestant’s specimen test positive for any alcohol, drug, controlled substance, anabolic steroids or illegal enhancement substances, the contestant shall be disciplined.

In addition to mandatory discipline (which includes the possibility of more than a mere letter, but also  suspensions under 196.01(1)), the section goes on to note that the bout should be changed to a no contest with the section going on to require the following:

A contestant who is disciplined and who was the winner of a contest shall be disqualified and the decision shall be changed to no contest. The results of a contest shall remain unchanged if a contestant who is disciplined was the loser of the contest.”.

The question now is, will Vera ask the WDSPS to follow their own rules or let the loss stay on his record?

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