New York Legally in-bounds for Suspending Fighters That Miss Weight

After overseeing their first professional MMA contest after the sport was legalized in New York, the State’s athletic commission is coming under scrutiny for the suspensions they are handing out to fighters.

Two such suspensions were for missing weight with Thiago Alves suspended 3 months for missing weight and Kelvin Gastelum suspended for  6 months for missing weight and apparently no-showing at the weigh in.

The NYSAC is, however, well within their rights to hand out suspensions to fighters who miss weight under the newly minted regulations governing combative sports in New York.

Section 206.6 of New York’s Regulations allows the NYSAC to suspend the licence of anyone who “violates the rules, policies and directives” of the NYSAC.

While there is no regulation saying a fighter must make weight s.209.2 requires bout contracts to specify a “combatant’s contracted weight” and s. 209.3 allows suspension for fighters to who do not “carry out the terms and conditions of contracts to which they are parties.“.

Although it is not the norm in combat sports for fighters to be suspended for missing weight NYSAC does enjoy this authority.

From there the only relevant legal question is whether the NYSAC is exercising this power fairly or are they arbitrarily handing out punishments to MMA fighters?  The answers appears to be the former with the NYSAC publishing a bulletin in 2015 setting uniform penalties for missing weight. (ht Joe Seatter).

The bulletin reads as follows:

Suspension of Overweight Boxers

Professional boxers have an obligation, at the official weigh-in for a bout, to weigh in at or below the weight set forth in the bout contract. A boxer who fails to make weight violates his or her obligations under the bout contract, damages the boxer’s opponent and the sport of boxing, and does a disservice to him or herself. Pursuant to 19 NYCRR 214.10, “[i]n nontitle bouts, boxers overweight under the terms of the contract may be suspended after the match for such period as the commission may decide.” It is the sense of the Commission that boxers who weigh in over the contract weight should be suspended as follows:

1. For a first violation of the terms of the contract, ninety (90) days.

2. For a second violation of the terms of the contract, one hundred and eighty (180) days.

3. For a third violation of the terms of the contract, two hundred and seventy (270) days.

4. For a fourth or subsequent violation of the terms of the contract, a time period as determined by the Commission but no less than two hundred and seventy (270) days.

The suspension periods will apply to all boxers in nontitle bouts pursuant to 19 NYCRR 214.10, and to all boxers in title bouts pursuant to the Commission’s authority to act in the best interest of boxing.

The Commission reserves the right to take any additional disciplinary action it deems appropriate based on (a) whether the bout is cancelled as a result of one or both boxers weighing in over the contract weight, (b) the amount by which a boxer weighs in over the contract weight, or (c) any other aggravating factor. Additional disciplinary action may include, but is not limited to, suspension, revocation, and fine. Implemented by vote of the Commissioners on August 25, 2015.

This policy shall be effective immediately.

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