Last year the California State Athletic Commission fined Alexander Shlemenko and handed him a three year suspension after “testing positive for steroids”.
As previously reported the regulatory hearing left much to be desired from a perspective of due process and objective fairness. Shlemenko judicially reviewed the CSAC’s decision and in part succeeded by having his fine decreased and having the three year suspension reduced to one year.
Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien’s reasons can be found here – Shlemenko Reasons For Judgement .
Three takeaways are noteworthy, the first California specific, the second and third in a broader sense.
- The CSAC regulatory scheme does not require the commission to split samples into “A” and “B” samples. The Court ruled that “The Commission is bound to follow its own regulations and other laws, not the Commission’s agreement with its testing lab. The applicable regulations specify that the single positive test result is sufficient to show a violation of the anti-drug rules and does not mention taking a “B” sample“.
- Due Process matters. The Court held that the Commission was wrong in increasing Shlemenko’s penalty from one year to three simply because he insisted on exorcising his administrative rights. Judge O’Brian stated “The Court agrees that under the circumstances of this case, it violated Petitioner’s due process rights to increase the proposed penalty by three years. Petitioner could not have known that by appealing the suspension of his license he was reopening the issue of the length of the suspension. The Commission does not cite any authority or precedent that would allow them to increase the penalty from the original term of approximately one year. Indeed, a three-year penalty was not even discussed until the closing briefs on the penalty issue, and by that time Petitioner was unable to respond. Accordingly, the Commission violated Petitioner’s due process rights by imposing a suspension that was longer than originally noticed“
- The Court reduced Shlemenko’s fine on the basis that the CSAC only had the ability to issue a fine for “any false statement made in application for a license” and they were wrong in fining Shlemenko for potentially false statements not related to his licence. The lesson is that Athletic Commissions are pure creatures of statute and only can exercise those powers specifically given to them, not those that they would like to have or those that they should have.
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