In 2001, a media storm hit British politics as Jo Moore, then a special advisor to Stephen Byers, the Transport, Local Government and Regions Secretary for the UK, used the atrocities of September 11th to her political party's gain on the day of immense tragedy in New York City. Moore's leaked email read: "It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors' expenses?" This incident, in turn, birthed the term "A good day to bury bad news."
It was a despicable act of governmental spin and provided an ugly insight as to how the British political machine worked at its cynical worst.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission committed the opposite offense on Monday, overshadowing positive news with its own ineptitude with a headline-grabbing decision to severely punish UFC featherweight champion Conor McGregor for his part in the bottle-throwing match between himself and Nate Diaz's entourage ahead of UFC 202 in August.
The Nevada Attorney General recommended the NSAC fine McGregor $25,000 and give the Dubliner 25 hours of community service for his role in the fracas—in addition to five hours of "media training," which is something I seriously doubt McGregor requires given the expertise he has displayed in playing the media game since bursting on the international MMA scene on a chilly April night in Stockholm, Sweden, back in 2013.
However, once McGregor's attorney suggested the possibility of legal action against the NSAC, the commission—led by the controversial Pat Lundvall, who led the calls for Nick Diaz's initial five-year ban for testing positive for marijuana—decided to double his community service time and increased the fine to 5% of his UFC 202 purse, which works out as $150,000—six times the figure initially recommended by the state's attorney general.
The NSAC have long been considered an oxymoronic body—with an emphasis on those latter three syllables—which loves to masquerade as a court of law. In addition to the aforementioned arbitrary and out-of-date punishment dished out to Diaz, its the organization that attempted to ban Wanderlei Silva from competing in professional MMA for life after evading a drug test back in 2014—a ruling overturned by a judge for its nonsensical nature.
McGregor obviously deserved to be reprimanded for his actions. But, this is overkill. It's unfortunate that Las Vegas, the city revered as the international home for fight sports, has such a bizarrely behaved commission overseeing boxing and MMA in the state of Nevada. The crude thinking and personal judgement of character habitually displayed by the NSAC—by Lundvall, in particular, who said that McGregor "needed to be humbled" on Monday—often overshadows the good work they do put into combat sports in the state.
Monday was no different as it emerged the NSAC quietly introduced a number of positive changes to bolster the fight against performance enhancing drugs in the state. But, the odd manner of which McGregor was punished on the same day stole all attention away from the constructive amendments the NSAC made to their drug policy [H/T Combat Sports Law].
Following the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) lead, the NSAC have now prohibited all substances and methods of application as recommended by WADA: thus eliminating a loophole which left the details around the NSAC's stance on pre-fight intravenous hydration usage a tad murky—an issue which arose when Floyd Mayweather Jr., a darling of the NSAC who can do no wrong, used an IV without a therapeutic usage exemption (TUE) ahead of his blockbuster bout against Manny Pacquiao. Retroactive TUE's are now entirely prohibited.
In addition, it is now no longer required by the NSAC to determine whether a fighter willingly or knowingly took a banned substance ahead of a fight. Another ruling sees a positive A sample test being sufficient to prove an anti-doping violation even if a B sample has been waived.
There are new, defined, rulings which are also of interest to fighters and their respective bank balances:
- Anti-doping violations can now occur even without a failed test if there is proof that an unarmed combatant "utilizes, applies, ingests or consumes by any means, or attempts to utilize, apply ingest, inject or consume by any means, a prohibited substance or prohibited method."
- There are now set penalties for refusing or failing to submit to a test as a suspension ranging from 12-24 months and fines of 20-40% of the fighter's purse.
- Intimidating test administrators or otherwise tampering or obstructing with the test collection process is also serves as a defined violation, which garner suspensions of 12-24 months and fines of 20-40% of the fighter's purse.
- Possessing out of competition substances at any time (or possessing substances banned in-competition while in competition) is an anti-doping violation with suspensions ranging from 9-24 months and fines of 15-30% of a fighter's purse. An example of this would be a fighter being caught with marijuana in their locker while they're fighting.
- It is an official violation to sell, give, transport, deliver or distribute prohibited substances with suspensions ranging from 12 months to a lifetime ban and fines of 15-50% of a fighter's purse.
- There are now reduced penalties for athletes who "promptly admit to an anti-doping violation__". If the admission is the only evidence against the fighter the suspension can be reduced by up to 50% and fines can be reduced to as little as 10% of a fighter's purse.
- A fighter will incur a default suspension of 9-24 months for an anti-doping violation with a fine from 15-30 % of a fighter's purse.
- If you have been caught violating an anti-doping test before, the period of suspension can double with fines up to 40% of the fighter's purse. Fail a third time; you're looking at a suspension ranging from 18th months to a lifetime ban with fines between 40 and 60% of a fighter's purse.
- Fighting licenses can be further suspended or revoked where an individual fails to pay a fine imposed in a timely fashion or otherwise comply with the terms of a payment plan.
These are all positive changes for the NSAC to make in the fight against performance-enhancing drugs in combat sports. It's just a shame the inane headline-grabbing shenanigans from a select few in the commission undermine and undo the NSAC's good work which had unfortunately slipped under the media radar.