Let’s be real here: California is the state that nobody wants to deal with. The state athletic commission there is, as we say in Canada, a gong show.
Botched weigh-ins, convoluted supplement rules, suspensions that don’t seem to take precedent into account in any discernible way. They’re generally just the worst.
But you know what? If their neighbour in Nevada is the gold standard for commissions, you might as well pack up and go home now.
Combat sports as we know them are in the hands of one of the most hapless political organizations in the modern world, and everyone else is apparently following their lead.
Not. Good. News.
It’s easy to pick on athletic commissions. Part of that is because they do a tough job and have to make a lot of hard decisions. Then again, part of it is because they just make it so easy to pick on them.
For whatever good they do (which, as Dana White correctly states, is almost exclusively centered around fighter health and safety), they undo it twice as fast every time something controversial comes across their desks.
It’s almost like they’re trying to routinely strike out. A pro ball player with contact numbers like NSAC would never move past A-ball.
Take, for example, the May 21 hearing they held. On the same docket they managed to make two mistakes, for two different reasons, with two outcomes that made no concrete sense to anyone with the ability to think critically.
Up first, Chael Sonnen. Hero to some, heel to others, he’s as controversial as any man in the sport. He’s quick with a (obviously rehearsed) line, but he backs it up. He also got busted for high testosterone and a real estate scam in Oregon not that long ago.
In the midst of his legal troubles and issues with a potential performance enhancers, he basically proclaimed that the only mistake he made was not telling the commission he was using extra testosterone. That commission (surprise, it was California!) decided to suspend him, but they didn’t really know how long they wanted him to sit out.
He plead that he told NSAC director Keith Kizer all about his testosterone use, which was later refuted. That, in any sense, makes him a liar. He also sort of dragged the NSAC into his CSAC hearing for no particular reason.
Six months was decided upon as a fair number.
Now the No. 1 contender for Anderson Silva’s middleweight title and ready to compete in the biggest rematch in the history of the UFC, he requested a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone at UFC 148.
He was engaging and charming as he sat before Kizer and his cohorts, who only a year ago were abhorred by his blatant flouting of bureaucratic conventions.
Without any considerable sweating, they granted him his exemption and wished him the best in his pursuit of gold. Not that he didn’t deserve it, for every man deserves a chance to right past wrongs, but when the true kangaroo court got rolling soon after, it was where perspective ruled the day.
Moments later, notorious pothead and general source of unintentional comedy Nick Diaz entered the room to plead his case for high marijuana metabolite levels.
Follies aside, Diaz is among the most entertaining fighters in MMA, among the most honest athletes out there (perhaps to a fault), and a man who shares Sonnen’s ability to polarize fans.
As soon as he sat down, though, the witch hunt was on.
Pot is bad. You say you smoke pot. You can’t smoke pot. We’re taking a bunch of your money.
Granted it took about four hours to get that, complete with some legendary Diazisms along the way, but that’s what his hearing was.
Lacking the charm of Sonnen, and the inability to offer up creative misdirections and comedic one-liners, Diaz was left to speak truth and live with the consequences.
NSAC suspended him for a year and took 30 percent of his considerable UFC 143 purse, the purse from the event which triggered his positive test.
They cited marijuana as a performance enhancer, and also that Diaz was a repeat offender who openly admitted when probed that he didn’t learn his lesson the first time.
And the sport was saved from another cheating crook. Pats on the back all around. Great day’s work, gang.
Sonnen gets an exemption for something directly proven to enhance performance, Diaz gets a year and loses a veritable windfall of the other green stuff for being honest and willingly taking his lumps.
The reality in all this is that NSAC showed itself for what it is: an antiquated political body that’s more concerned with how much smoke a man can blow into their behinds than how much he held in his lungs a week before a fight.
Then again, isn’t that what politics is all about? Point proven.