Does the Nevada State Athletic Commission Have a Blood Doping Loophole?

Further update October 2016Effective September 2016 Nevada updated their combat sports regulations including adopting WADA’s prohibited methods which close the blood-doping loophole and prohibit the use of IV for re-hydration with limited exceptions.


Update September 17, 2015 – The NSAC has yet to reply and address this issue.  I should note, however, that USADA has issued a further reply to Hauser’s article here.  In it Mayweather’s IV use is confirmed and they quote NSAC’s Commissioner Bennett as saying that by using an IV without an NSAC TUE

Mr. Mayweather has done nothing wrong. The Nevada State Athletic Commission has no interest in any type of investigation regarding his IV

The problem with this comment is it outright contradicts the NSAC’s own document setting out new proposed tough on doping penalties which, at paragraph two states

We will continue to follow WADA’s Prohibited List, for both prohibited substances and prohibited methodologies

IV use is indeed a WADA prohibited methodology.  As discussed below this does not appear to be clearly adopted in Nevada’s regulatory scheme.

The NSAC is talking out of both sides here and the combat sports community deserves clarity as to whether the State formally adopts WADA prohibited methods or not.  If not there is a Blood Doping loophole in Nevada.


Yesterday journalist Thomas Hauser wrote a damning piece alleging that a USADA collection agent “found evidence of an IV being administered to Mayweather” prior to his bout against Manny Pacquiao, an act, absent Therapeutic Use Exemption, that is prohibited by the private anti doping contract Mayweather agreed to. (Update – USADA issued their own statement in response to Hauser’s article here).

Hauser offers a scathing critique of USADA’s conduct as a private contracting entity.  Perhaps most noteworthy is the article’s suggestion that USADA turned a blind eye to Maywether’s IV use and then granted a retroactive TUE weeks later thereby bringing the IV use within the permitted scope of the contract (USADA contradicts this claim in their reply which is also worth reviewing to have both sides of the story).

While scrutiny of USADA is warranted given the pivotal role they now play as the UFC’s private anti doping police, an important regulatory question arises – is IV use banned under Nevada’s rules?  If not, the State may have other glaring loopholes compromising the safety of combat athletes.

The biggest concern with IV use is the tool can be used to dilute the presence of prohibited substances and thereby thwart anti doping efforts.

Nevada’s legislation is not clear on whether IV use is prohibited and arguably it is not.

NAC 467.850 sets out Nevada’s anti-doping scheme.  Interestingly while IV use is prohibited under the World Anti Doping Agency’s standards, this prohibition does not seem to be specifically adopted in Nevada.

Nevada’s regulations name a list of specific banned substances and then go on to also prohibit “Any drug identified on the most current edition of the Prohibited List published by the World Anti-Doping Agency”.

WADA’s Prohibited List essentially breaks down to two broad categories, prohibited subtances and prohibited methods.  The above language (assuming “drug” = “substances”) clearly adopts WADA’s prohibited substances list.  However, the language does not appear to include WADA’s prohibited methods which include things such as blood doping, IV use and gene doping.

Nevada’s peculiar regulations appear to specifically allow “injections” with NAC 467.850(3) listing “injections” that are not prohibited but simply “discouraged” and subsection 4 listing “injections” that are allowed which include saline, the substance making up the bulk of what Mayweather allegedly injected.

I  have reached out to the NSAC to clarify whether they are investigating this matter and will update the article if they reply.  In the meantime, combat athletes not subject to a USADA contract would do well to inquire whether the NSAC is ok with their opponents not only using IV’s but also other “prohibited methods” while fighting in Nevada.  If IV use is banned under Nevada regulations then the NSAC has a duty to investigate the allegations against Mayweather, if IV use is not banned Nevada needs to address the glaring loophole of failing to adopt WADA’s prohibited methods.

6 thoughts on “Does the Nevada State Athletic Commission Have a Blood Doping Loophole?

  1. If there is a subsequent investigation by the NSAC of Mayweather’s IV use, what pieces of evidence would hold the most weight in terms of determining the legality of the IV use?

    The IV bags and related medical supplies must be already inadmissible because of the length of time that has passed between the time the IV was administered & now.

    Would subpoenad testimony from Mayweather’s medical team or USADA collection agents hold any weight?

    Finally, is it safe to assume that Mayweather’s IV use was legal under the NSAC because there hasn’t been an investigation or reversal of the Mayweather-Pacquiao outcome by now?

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