About those out-of-competition drug tests that have been so successful in the state of Nevada this year: Yes, people in influential positions have been sitting up and taking notice.
I talked with California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster recently, and he mentioned to me that his state, my state, the state that does more combat sports events than any other in the nation, would be instituting random, out-of-competition drug tests. He had received the first results from the six people tested in the run up to UFC on Fox 12, slated for Saturday in San Jose, Calif., and he was happy to report they had come back clean. The other five were expected back in the next day or so.
That was welcome news, but the most important nugget Foster dropped during our conversation was the fact that he has forwarded a proposal from the Governmental Affairs Committee with the Association of Boxing Commissions, of which he is the chairman, that will allocate 20 percent of all ABC revenues for anti-doping measures.
The ABC will hold its annual conference this weekend in Florida, and the voting members will have a choice to make in regards to the performance-enhancing drug issue that has become a thorn in many of their sides. Many of their jurisdictions do not test, and most of those that do not test just cannot afford to foot the bill.
Foster’s measure would help alleviate the cost of PED testing for smaller commissions and close a gap that has allowed fighters to compete with no state sanctioned testing. Foster forwarded a copy of his committee report. Detailed below is the clause that will be voted upon next week:
The ABC Governmental Affairs Committee recommends that 20% of the ABC’s annual budget be allocated for anti-doping testing. These funds will serve smaller commissions who may not have the resources of a larger commission (i.e. California, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania). These funds can also serve to provide “out of competition” testing for athletes who train in a jurisdiction different than the locale of their competition. This fund will maintain the integrity of the sports, in perpetuity. Additionally, as a federally recognized nonprofit (501c3), the ABC could take legal donations from interested parties in an effort to further anti-doping efforts in combative sports.
Now before everyone heads out for celebratory shots, let’s dig in and see how this will work in practice. According to Foster and his estimates of the ABC budget, this would equate to roughly $12,000 per year for added drug testing. That figure would cover between 100 and 200 additional tests for smaller commissions that cannot currently afford to screen combatants.
“My hope is this is the first step to further clean up the sport,” Foster said. “We want to make this sport better, more fair and to leave it in better shape than we found it.”
Indeed, this is just another small step and forward-thinking stride in the right direction. The matter passed the committee by a unanimous vote, but it remains to be seen how the body as a whole will view it. This is a contemptuous issue because it would mandate that a certain percentage of the ABC’s revenue be directed to a specific use, and Foster was unsure how his counterparts from the other member commissions would receive it. He is keen to see who will be voting for or against it and has requested a roll call vote, which would put voting members on record as for or against the measure.
“People dope; we’ve seen it a lot recently with the positive tests that have come in,” Foster said. “This won’t do a ton to change that, but it is my hope that this can be a starting point for the ABC to help change the tide against PED use.”
Foster is right. This will not be something that eradicates PEDs from combat sports. What it can be is another in a long line of small and hopefully effective measures that make it much more difficult to get away with creating an uneven playing field.
Here’s hoping the ABC sees the value in this and shows it is willing to take a stand against PEDs and doping in combat sports. I will be in Florida next week and will be sure to follow up on the vote.
Greg Savage is the Executive Editor of Sherdog.com and can be reached via @TheSavageTruth on Twitter.