When the UFC came to Halifax in October, 2014, the promotions first and so far only event in Nova Scotia, a host of regulatory issues arose.
First the Nova Scotia Boxing Authority, the entity which has legal jurisdiction to regulate ‘combat sports’ in the Province, turned a blind eye to their regulations for the UFC. They may have failed to enforce their fighter pay rules for the event headliners, now, MMAFighting reports, they may have bungled disciplinary proceedings following a drug test of competitor Pedro Munhoz.
MMAFighting reports that the NSBA delegated drug testing powers to the UFC following the event. The UFC conducted a test and subsequently Munhoz was “informed by the Nova Scotia Boxing Authority that my exam came back positive for high levels of testosterone and they would suspend me“. That suspension is apparently being appealed as the test results are supposedly within prescribed limits according to Munhoz. Here’s where its interesting, there is no such thing as prescribed limits for testosterone levels in Nova Scotia, in fact the whole PED testing landscape is quite barren.
Just as the ‘unified rules’ of MMA were missing from Nova Scotia’s legal landscape, so too were proper regulations when it comes to defined prohibited substances.
The Nova Scotia Boxing Authority is a creature of statute. They only have the powers that the legislature gave them. They were created under the Boxing Authority Act which does not, on its face, give the NSBA power to conduct (or therefore delegate) drug tests. The Act does allow for Regulations to be passed respecting “conditions…to be observed by any licensee” and further “concerning the medical examination of all boxers”. Arguably a drug testing regulation can be passed under this power.
Turning to the official Regulations, however, we find only limited statutory power. With respect to testing powers the Regulations only allow urine testing reading “An application for a boxer’s licence shall be accompanied by…a signed certificate of waiver stating that the boxer will submit to a post-fight urinalysis if the Authority so orders.“. The section is notably silent on defining which substances are prohibited. The section is also silent on giving the NSBA authority to delegate drug testing powers to a promoter.
All the balance of the regulations say about prohibited drugs is the following:
184 It is strictly prohibited for boxers to practice “blood boosting”, the intravenous administration of blood or blood products to enhance the boxer’s performance, for non-medical or recreational purposes.
185 (1) The administering or use of drugs or stimulants, including smelling salts or ammonia, either before or during a boxing match, to or by a boxer is strictly prohibited .
(2) No boxer shall ingest any substance, other than plain water or approved medical electrolyte solution provided by the Authority, during the boxing match.
(3) Any boxer violating subsection (1) or (2) shall be disqualified.
186 The discretional use of coagulants listed in Section 170 may be permitted between rounds to stop bleeding from minor cuts and lacerations sustained by a boxer.
187 The use of iron-based coagulants such as “Monsel’s Solution” or any of its derivatives is strictly prohibited and the use of any such coagulant is cause for immediate disqualification.
There is no comprehensive list of banned substances. There is no list of allowable testosterone levels. Just a brief reference to the generic and over-broad term ‘drugs’.
To sum up
1. The NSBA does not have a list of actual banned substances
2. Their PED testing abilities are limited to post bout urine testing
3 They cannot delegate greater PED testing powers to a promoter
4. According to MMAFighting the test results were within prescribed limits however there is no framework even setting out what these limits are
5. While the NSBA has the authority to fine and/or suspend licencees who violate their rules, the above framework puts them on thin ice if they are seeking to justify a suspension based on reportedly ‘high’ testosterone levels alone.
The Regulations give Munhoz 20 days to appeal any disciplinary action and if that does not prove successful he is further allowed to appeal to judge of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court within 20 days of the appeal decision.
This is the latest example that drug testing issues in combat sports are complex and lawmakers would be wise to have a clear and comprehensive framework in place not just listing prohibited substances, but also for testing and disciplinary powers.