Lost in this week’s story by Josh Gross discussing the UFC’s role in mixed martial arts ‘TRT era’ is the important parallel story that doping is 100% legal under Ontario’s combat sports regulations.
Combat sports regulation in Ontario is filled with problems such as the government turning a blind eye to amateur MMA which is illegal in the Province. Perhaps no bigger issue exists, however, than the Government’s complete failure to address doping in professional MMA and boxing.
As previously discussed, in Ontario the Athletics Control Act Regulation which governs the sport of professional MMA does not require mandatory drug testing. Instead, section 17.1 of the Regulation only requires drug tests to be performed by the commission if the contract between the fighter and the promoter “requires the participant to undergo a drug test“. The full section reads as follows:
17.1 If a contract between a participant in a professional contest or exhibition and the person holding the contest or exhibition requires the participant to undergo a drug test on the day of the contest or exhibition, the Commissioner shall, on request, oversee the administering of the test and the person holding the contest or exhibition shall pay for the costs of administering the test. O. Reg. 465/10, s. 16.
In other words no out of competition testing ever. Day of competition testing also does not exist unless there is a specific contract between the promoter and fighter. It goes without saying that a regulator allowing a promoter to call the shots on performance enhancing drugs creates an obvious conflict of interest (hint – look at the PRIDE we won’t test for steroids clause).
Worse yet, where no such contract exists then performance enhancing drugs such as testosterone and EPO and methods such as blood doping will not violate Ontario’s regulations. Baffling!
If you don’t want to take my word on it you can listen to the Government themselves who, two years ago, confirmed to me that
“The OAC does not require drug testing of fighters, and does not have a list of prohibited drugs”
And more recently to Bloody Elbow’s John Nash that
“The Athletics Control Act does not require testing for illegal drugs and/or performance enhancing substances. If a promoter includes a requirement for drug/substance testing in its contract with the fighters, they can request that the Commissioner administer those tests. However, it would be up to the promoter to determine what would satisfy that contractual requirement or if an exemption should be made for certain treatments. The Commission has no role to play in such decisions. Questions about test results for drugs or performance enhancing substances for fighters in a particular event should therefore be directed to the promoter.”
Ontario has been slow to make meaningful change to their combat sports legislation and are doing little more than ‘reviewing’ their lacking laws. If nothing else comes of Gross’ work, Ontario should be embarrassed to be North America’s largest jurisdiction with legal doping in combat sports. For the safety of competitors and the integrity of Boxing and MMA Ontario should quickly remedy this situation.