Cody McKenzie 3 Month Head Butt Suspension Upheld on Appeal

Following a first round disqualification loss due to an intentional head butt at World Series of Fighting 18, Cody McKenzie was handed a 3 month licence suspension by the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission.

Cody McKenzie Head Butts Andrew McInnes WSOF 18

McKenzie appealed the decision and his appeal was dismissed this week with the Hearing Panel holding as follows:

In his February 26, 2015 e-mail to the Executive Director the appellant stated ‘when I made the choice to headbutt my opponent I broke the Unified Rules of MMA and I accept the loss that I received because of it’.  Nonetheless the Appellant submits that he should not be subject to suspension, or, in the alternative, should have his suspension reduced based on a number of factors…

The Appellant has not demonstrated an error that has been made which requires correcting.  An Appellant has not providing any evidence that there has been a misapplication of the rules and regulations.  The evidence that has been provided by the Appellant has not provided a sufficient basis to amend the decision of the Executive Director.

For these reasons, the Commission confirms the suspension by the Executive Director.  The suspension was made after witnessing the infraction and was made in consultation with presiding ECSC officials.  Sufficient grounds to reduce the suspension have not been provided by the Appellant

A full copy of the Appeal Decision can be found here – Cody McKenzie ECSC Appeal Decision.  I’d like to thank Mike Russell for sharing this with me.

McKenzie’s only avenue to further challenge the decision would be to seek judicial review by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.  The suspension would be served in full before a judicial review can realistically take place making this an unlikely avenue for McKenzie.

Interestingly, an analysis of Edmonton’s Combative Sports Bylaw show a gap which may make them vulnerable to Judicial Review and just as the Nevada State Athletic Commission should consider legislative overhaul following the Wanderlei Silva affair, the ECSC should look to review their bylaws addressing licence suspension.

The reason being is that the Commission suspended McKenzie’s licence after it was already expired, a remedy which may not survive judicial challenge.

Section 6(2) of Bylaw 15594 states that “A Licence issued to a Contestant is only valid only forth Event specified in this Licence”.

The ECSC relied on section 16 of the Bylaw to suspend McKenzie’s licence which reads “The Executive Director may revoke, suspend, refuse to issue or renew, or imposition of conditions on any Licence or Event Permit if, in the opinion of the Executive Director, it is in the public interest to do so”.

Here is the issue– McKenzie’s licence expired after the event took place.  The ECSC then ‘suspended’ it.   You cannot revoke or suspend a licence that is no longer valid.   You also cannot impose conditions on a licence that is already invalid.  The commissions powers appear limited to “refuse to issue or renew” a licence if McKenzie was to apply for a new one.

This is a legislative gap.  The Bylaw should be amended to reflect this.  It is a technical argument, not a sympathetic one (much like the Wanderlei Silva judicial review underway in Nevada right now after he was punished for running from an out of competition drug test).  The Bylaw is poorly written for situations such as this one and amendment should be considered.

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