Archive for the ‘BC Athletic Commissioner Act’ Category

amater olympic combat sports legal in BC

As previously discussed, while there are a lot of amateur combat sports which are presently illegal in BC by operation of s. 83 of the Criminal Code, those amateur sports “on the programme of the International Olympic Committee or the International Paralympic Committee ” are currently legal.  These include Boxing, Taekwondo, Wresling and Judo.

After bringing this to the BC Athletic Commission’s attention they have clarified their earlier position confirming this indeed is the case.   These four specific combat sports events can be held with no government approval without infringing the Criminal Code unless “the province’s lieutenant governor in council or any other person or body specified by him or her requires it“.   Presently BC has no such requirement.

Below is the clarification just released by BC’s Athletic Commissioner:

In addition, amateur combat sports currently on the programme of the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) or the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) do not
require permission. The Province can, however, designate any of those combat sports
as requiring permission if it chooses.
Until such designations are made, the changes in the Criminal Code of Canada make
any amateur combat sport contest (other than combat sports on the IOC/IPC list) illegal.

bill s 209 progress update

There was much celebration in the Canadian MMA Community yesterday with the passing of Bill S-209.  Now that MMA has a legal framework in Canada it is time for stakeholders to get to work with Provincial politicians.

As discussed yesterday, Bill S-209 does not in and of itself make MMA legal across Canada, it allows Provinces to make it legal on a Province by Province basis.  The default is the sport remains illegal.  It requires Provincial regulation.  This needs to happen for both professional and amateur contests.  The landscape on the professional side is largely in place.  The amateur side, however, remains a real problem.

For Provinces such as Ontario, BC, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia the work is largely done on the Professional side.  Quebec and any other Provinces that tried to dance around the old language of s. 83 could use some legislative overhaul to get rid of “mixed boxing” and embrace the actual sport of MMA.  Provinces that regulate the sport on the municipal side such as Alberta and New Brunswick ought to consider province wide commissions to bring in consistency in regulation.

Other Provinces, such as Saskatchewan, can now feel safe in passing legislation to regulate professional MMA.

Professional contests are well and good, but few practitioners make it to the bright lights of the big show.  Most MMA is amateur and this is where participants start.  This is also where the most pressing problem lies.

Will Bill S-209 in place there is no more uncertainty about the legal status of amateur MMA.  It can no longer said to be ‘illegal but tolerated’.  Unless the sport is put  “on the programme of the International Olympic Committee” every amateur contest will remain illegal unless Provinces specifically pass laws that permit or designate the legality of amateur MMA.  This framework is largely lacking.

I have written to BC’s minister of sport Bill Bennett who has agreed to discuss this with me.  I am following up with him and keep this site updated with any progress.  I urge other fans and stakeholders of MMA to contact your appropriate Provincial politicians to see that proper legislative frameworks are being put into place.

Dave Maedel Image(Image via BC Government’s Flickr Page)

There is now official confirmation that BC’s first Athletic Commissioner is Dave Maedel.  You can click here to read about his background.

Maedel, who recently served as the Chief Sheriff of BC Sheriff Services, is now the first acting BC Athletic Commissioner.  With his formal powers coming into force on May 30, 2013 BC now has a new Sheriff for professional Boxing and MMA.

Congratulations on your appointment and good luck serving BC’s combat sports community!

Twitter image Pat Healy

OK, with BC’s new legislative framework in place regulating professional MMA and with Marc Ratner’s confirmation that BC is back on the UFC’s map its time to have some fun with hypotheticals.

What if Pat Healy’s failed marijuana drug test following UFC 159 occurred under BC’s new regime?

For those of you that don’t know the story, following his last fight in New Jersey Pat Healy tested positive for marijuana metabolites.  To his credit he immediately fell on his sword and owned up to his mistake.  The apology could not, however, stop the official result of the fight changing from a win to a no-contest.  This in turn stripped him of bonus money which made up the lion’s share of his purse.

So what if this happened in BC?  Would the result be different?  We need to make a few assumptions here but there is a strong likelihood that his victory would have remained intact and his pocketbook would be left untouched.

Once in force, the BC Scheme will be far more lenient than New Jersey’s or other jurisdictions when it comes to marijuana metabolites.  The World Anti-Doping Agency largely sets the standard when it comes to testing for banned substances.  Many jurisdictions look to WADA for guidance when drafting their regulations relating to banned substances and acceptable levels when testing.  When WADA changes their rules, athletic commissions generally need to change theirs if they want to keep pace.

British Columbia has gone further, however, and not only been guided by WADA’s standards but have expressly adopted them as they stand at any given time.  Specifically, section 21(2) of the BC Regulation reads as follows:

For the purpose of this regulation, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances and methods applies as amended from time to time

This means that when WADA changes their rules BC law is automatically updated to follow suit.  This is where the Pat Healy saga comes into play.  WADA has just announced that they are relaxing their rules when it comes to marijuana.  As of May 11, 2013 athletes are allowed to have 10 times more marijuana metabolites in their system before failing a drug test as compared to the former WADA standards increasing the standard from 15 ng/mL to 150 ng/mL.

This means that Pat Healy will have 10 times the slack under BC’s system over jurisdictions which implemented the former WADA standards.  Many US States such as Nevada have a standard of 50 ng/mL (although they are being lobbied to get in line with WADA’s new standard) meaning that BC’s standard is three times more generous than this standard.

Pat Healy’s exact readings have not been publicly reported but I have reached out to him to see if he is willing to share these.  Assuming he was not over 150 then he would not have run afoul of BC regulations, would have kept his win and his bonus money would still be intact.

This conclusion is bolstered by the fact that a fighter’s contract regarding controlled substances, while expressly prohibiting the use of marijuana, seems to defer to Athletic Commission testing arguably meaning that a reading below 150 by the BC Commission would not be a breach of this policy.  The relevant section of the UFC’s contract reads as follows:

UFC Fighter Cotract Controlled Substances Clause

BC Athletic Commissioner Logo

At the end of the month BC’s Athletic Commissioner Act will be in force.  Once in force all “professional” MMA and Boxing Events in BC will be regulated by the provincial commission with Vancouver and other local governments being given the ability to outlaw the sport with the passing of local bylaws.

BC’s First Athletic Commissioner has not yet been announced but it is rumored that one has been appointed.

The long-awaited regulations have now been passed and can be found here with an ancillary regulation here.

Below are some of the highlights:

  • As expected, BC has adopted the Mixed Martial Arts Unified Rules of Conduct NJAC 13:46-24A
  • Any events approved by local commissions before May 30 are still validly regulated and can take place under the authority and supervision of the local commissions.
  • As of May 30th local commissions are stripped of their powers
  • Promoter’s must apply for an event permit at least 60 days ahead of a scheduled event
  • Event Permit Holders must pay the Commissioner 5% of the event’s gross gate receipts
  • Promoter’s must have at least $5,000,000 in Third Party Liability Coverage
  • At least 21 days before any scheduled event a promoter must provide the commissioner a performance bond of $25,000
  • At least 14 days before an event, contestants must provide the commissioner with an ophthalmologist’s or optometrist’s report; a physician’s report; negative test results for HIV, hepatitis B and C and syphilis with further requirements if the contestant is over age 35.  Additionally, female contestants must submit a negative pregnancy test.
  • Contestants in all matches (except for championship matches) are given a one pound weight allowance
  • If a contestant misses weight by less that 3% they are given an additional hour to make weight
  • If a contestant is 3% or more over weight they cannot compete unless specifically permitted by the commissioner

Lastly, the office of the Athletic Commissioner released a Frequently Asked Questions document.  This document notes that amateur sporting events will be overseen by “provincial sport organizations“.  It is noteworthy that there is no organization with the legislative authority to govern amateur MMA.  Although organizations such as the Mixed Martial Arts Association of BC offer to regulate amateur MMA contests, their use is not mandated by statute.  Once Bill S-209 is passed it is noteworthy that amateur MMA will be illegal by default unless the Province addresses this legislative gap.  With BC’s election out of the way now is a good time for those involved in BC’s MMA and combat sports community to approach BC’s Minister of Sport and work with him to address this legal oversight.

The BC Government has just published a press release setting a date for the Athletic Commissioner Act to come into force as of May 30, 2013.  The Regulations still appear to be a work in progress.  The gap for kickboxing referenced at the end of the press release is an unfortunate one and hopefully the act will be expanded to cover other combat sports not to mention the gap which will remain on the amateur side.

The text reads as follows:

VICTORIA – Government has approved a regulation setting May 30, 2013 as the effective date for the Athletic Commissioner Act to come into force and for the BC Athletic Commissioner to begin operations, fulfilling a commitment made by Premier Christy Clark.

This new provincial regulatory regime will enhance the safety of participants in professional boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) through consistent regulation. The BC Athletic Commissioner will be responsible for administering a provincial standard of qualifications and safety protocols for all participants and officials through a uniform licensing and permitting framework, and ensuring compliance with the act and its regulation.

The provincial commissioner will replace local commissions (authorized under the Community Charter and the Vancouver Charter) that currently regulate these sports in their communities, thereby providing a more consistent regulatory approach.


Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Bill Bennett –

“There is no question mixed martial arts has rapidly grown into a tremendously popular sport here in British Columbia and across North America. A key priority for this government is to ensure that these activities take place in the safest possible environment. Regulation at the provincial level will also mean that MMA is regulated in a consistent way in all areas of the province. This benefits both participants and the MMA industry.”

Quick Facts:

  • The act comes into force effective May 30, 2013. Local athletic commissions will retain responsibility for boxing and MMA events authorized before May 30, 2013.
  • A process for hiring a commissioner is underway.
  • BC will join Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia in the regulation of MMA and boxing at the provincial level.
  • Professional kickboxing and Muay Thai kickboxing will not be regulated under the Athletic Commissioner Act. They may be added at a later date.

Last Summer British Columbia passed the Athletic Commissioner Act which will create a commission to regulate “professional” MMA and other combat sports on a Province wide basis.  Despite this there is still little certainty about exactly how professional contests will be regulated in BC because the Athletic Commissioner Act Regulations have not yet been passed.

The Regulations will be the ‘nuts and bolts’ governing professional contests in BC as they can address the following:

(a) prescribing the requirements that a corporation must meet to be eligible for an administrative agreement under section 6 [administrative agreement];

(b) establishing criteria for the purposes of section 8 (2) (b) [power of corporation to set and retain fees];

(c) prescribing other activities for which a licence is required;

(d) respecting licences, including, without limitation, prescribing

(i) information, authorizations and records that must be provided on application for a licence,

(ii) eligibility criteria,

(iii) terms and conditions of licences, and

(iv) forms of licences;

(e) respecting event permits, including, without limitation, prescribing

(i) information, authorizations and records that must be provided on application for an event permit,

(ii) eligibility criteria,

(iii) terms and conditions of event permits, and

(iv) forms of event permits;

(f) respecting security in relation to event permits, including, without limitation, prescribing

(i) the amount, or maximum amount, of security that may be required,

(ii) the forms of the security that may be provided, and

(iii) the circumstances under which the security may be realized;

(g) requiring event permit holders to have insurance for a professional contest or exhibition, including, without limitation, establishing the amounts of insurance required;

(h) respecting records, books and accounts to be kept by holders of licences and event permits;

(i) requiring holders of licences and event permits to provide information to the commissioner at the times and in the manner directed by the commissioner;

(j) respecting the duties of persons promoting, conducting or holding, matchmaking for, acting as seconds for, refereeing or judging professional contests or exhibitions;

(k) establishing standards for refereeing, judging or matchmaking for professional contests or exhibitions;

(l) regulating or prohibiting the use of specified equipment during weigh-ins and professional contests or exhibitions;

(m) respecting the safety of participants, officials and others at professional contests or exhibitions;

(n) respecting medical examinations for professional athletes and the availability of medical assistance during professional contests or exhibitions;

(o) providing for the drug and alcohol testing of professional athletes on a random basis or otherwise;

(p) regulating the conduct of professional athletes and other participants in professional contests or exhibitions;

(q) requiring that the officials for a professional contest or exhibition be designated by the commissioner;

(r) respecting the payment of officials who participate in a professional contest or exhibition, including, without limitation, prescribing the amounts officials must be paid.


I followed up with Bill Bennett, BC’s current Minister of Sport about when the Regulations will be in force.  He responded that they are expected to be established “soon”.

Bill Bennett exchange re MMA Regulations

I would expect that these regulations will be out before the Spring election but this remains to be seen.  I will continue to keep an eye on these developments.

Today the BC Government issued a press release announcing a COMMAND training course being set up in BC with a view towards the eventual certification of MMA judges under the Athletic Commissioner Act.

As previously discussed, this legislation will regulate promoters, fighters and officials for professional MMA contests.  The regulations under this legislation are still being worked out but today’s press release implies that COMMAND certification may be a necessary pre-requisite for licencing.

You can click here for more information on the training course.  A copy of the registration form can be found here.  Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and applications must be received by November 16, 2012.

With the recent introduction of BC’s Athletic Commissioner Act the BC Government needs to create a Province Wide Athletic Commissioner to regulate “professional contests or exhibitions” .

Yesterday the BC Government announced a cabinet shuffle appointing Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett as the Province’s new Minister of Sport.  BC’s Athletic Commission will now fall on Mr. Bennett’s watch.   I will continue to track the progress of this Commission and post updates as they develop.

(Update July 11, 2012 – the reports of the intended appeal have now been refuted by Chael Sonnen.  The below potential dilemma, however, still is one that can and ought to be remedied)


Yesterday Canada’s The Score reported that Chael Sonnen has “started the process to file an appeal with Keith Kizer and the Nevada Athletic Commission”  arguing that the Anderson Silva knee that led to Sonnen’s defeat was intended to be an illegal strike.  They further argue that Silva’s thigh struck Sonnen’s face (although it is worth noting that while knee strikes to grounded opponents are prohibited, there is no prohibition to a thigh grazing the face of a grounded opponent).

Leaving aside the incredible uphill battle of arguing that the most accurate striker in the history of MMA intended the blow to land elsewhere, this made me wonder whether there is any actual prohibition to ‘intended’ illegal strikes.  Review of the Unified Rules of MMA show no such prohibition.  I posted this observation on Twitter which led to the following exchange of ideas with Frank Geric who is an MMA ref in Cleveland Ohio.

Frank Geric went on to note that the prohibition of Unsportsmanlike Conduct likely creates enough latitude to cover intended fouls.  This makes sense but there is something desirable about specificity of prohibited conduct.  Since BC needs to adopt Rules in the very near future under the Athletic Commissioner Act, and since the Unified Rules of MMA are the most obvious choice I suggest it makes sense to add a brief section specifically addressing ‘intended’ fouls to give combatants certainty as to the prohibition of intended fouls and further to give regulators/referees specific authority and confidence in their ability to intervene with such conduct.