I previously highlighted why Athletic Commissions can be vulnerable to lawsuits if they implement negligent PED tests which allow cheats to easily slip through the cracks.
Random out of competition testing would catch more cheaters but also derail more events. This is harmful to the economic interests from those who profit from the sport, however, safety not profit should be the concern for regulators. Recent comments from the Nevada State Athletic Commission show that these priorities may not be straight.
ESPN’s Outside the Lines reports that Dr. Timothy Trainor, consulting physician to the NSAC, “would advise the five-member commission against granting a therapeutic-use exemption to Belfort or any fighter who previously tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.“. Safety first right? The Commission should take this feedback to heart.
Not so fast says Commission chairman Francisco Aguilar. Outside the lines reports that Aguilar “cautioned, however, that a prior failed drug test is not an immediate disqualifier and that any request from Belfort would be heard and decided upon by the full five-member commission, with input from Trainor.” That much is true, a failed drug test is not an automatic barrier to a TUE, however, the legal test for a TUE is almost insurmountable if the NSAC follows its Rules.
So what other priorities are on the mind of Aguilar? Reportedly money. The article notes:
Aguilar said he would rely on information provided by the commission’s medical doctor, but that he would enter any discussions with an open mind and also cognizant of the title fight’s importance to Nevada and the reluctance to lose the potential payday to another state. “The economic development impact to the state could be huge,” he said.
As point of fact, Aguilar said the UFC transferred to the state general fund almost $500,000 just in ticket sales and pay-per-view taxes from the Dec. 28 Weidman-Anderson Silva title fight. The tax figure from all fight cards last year was more than $5 million, he said. The estimated non-gaming impact to the venue hosting a boxing title fight (no figures are known for MMA) exceeds $11 million, according to Las Vegas convention officials.
Cynicism is one thing but outright admissions of profit playing a role in licencing and TUE decisions would be very damaging in litigation.
Safety is, legally, the top priority of the Athletic Commission and for proof you can simply look to the NSAC Executive Director Job Posting which holds “The Athletic Commission administers the State laws and regulations…governing unarmed combat for the protection of the public and to ensure the health and safety of the contestants.”
Yes positive economic impact of high profile events are a reality, however, Athletic Commissions would be wise to pay no mind to this and keep their focus on combatant safety where it belongs. Failing to do so can lead to costly litigation and if money is such a concern the NSAC would regret learning this lesson the hard way.