A Suggestion for the California State Athletic Commission.

On July 19, 2008, the Affliction promotion held their debut card in Anaheim, California. The following week, on July 26, 2008, EliteXC held its second “Saturday Night Fights” in Stockton, California. After an initial round of testing for performance enhancing and other illicit drugs was completed, one fighter was suspended by the California State Athletic Commission (“CSAC”).


On August 1, 2008, Bill Douglas, the Assistant Executive Officer of CSAC, informed MMAweekly that additional positive results would be announced, no earlier than August 11, 2008, after the initial round of testing indicated additional fighters tested positive for banned substances.1 The news spread like wildfire across the internet, throughout the MMA blog world, news sites, and online message boards. CSAC also released the names of eight fighters for each of the Affliction and ProElite cards who had already been tested and cleared of illicit drug use. Finally, Mr. Douglas announced that the remaining results would likely be announced on August 11, 2008. This last announcement created a virtual frenzy, as fans and media members alike anxiously awaited the release, and watched it appear across news sites virtually simultaneously. Testing results, however, should not be treated as a staged event designed to obtain maximum anticipation and media coverage. The careers, reputations and lives of many athletes are negatively impacted, unnecessarily, by CSAC’s current disclosure policy.


With twenty-two (22) fighters appearing on the EliteXC card, and twenty (20) fighters on the Affliction card, fans quickly utilized the disclosures made by CSAC to eliminate those fighters whose results had already been revealed. A total of twenty-five (25) fighters remained whose test results were pending. Rampant rumor and speculation followed, with virtually all of the remaining twenty-five fighters being linked, at one time or another, to steroids or other illicit drug use.


A much better policy, I believe, would be to either (i) announce all drug testing results on one occasion, or (ii) respond to media inquiries by providing only the date that subsequent results will be announced. CSAC’s current practice unnecessarily creates tension for fighters, and leads to rumor and innuendo which is entirely unfair to the athletes who test clean. As well, false positives can and do sometimes occur. This fact, coupled with CSAC’s disclosure that additional positive results would be forthcoming, serves to disrupt the lives of the remaining twenty-five (25) fighters whose results had not yet been released. I see little benefit to CSAC in making the disclosures Mr. Douglas made to MMAweekly, and many benefits to the athletes, their families, friends and loved ones, in the policy I suggested above.


Rob Maysey is a licensed attorney in the states of Arizona, California, and Minnesota. He received his BA in Politics from Whitman College and his JD from Cornell Law School. He has followed the sport of mixed martial arts closely since being introduced to Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 1998 by a law school classmate.

[1] Hamlin, Tom. “More Positive Drug Test Results Appear Likely,” MMAweekly.com, http://www.mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/dailynews.asp?articleid=6805&zoneid=13