The Interview: Ally Quinney and Sam Erhlich

March 30, 2018

The Interview talks with Florida State University doctrinal students Ally Quinney and Sam Erhlich as they recently presented an upcoming paper at the Sports and Recreation Law Association Conference regarding the privacy concerns with USADA and the UFC anti-doping policy.

In addition to their presentation, we discuss the recent Jon Jones hearing and the Josh Barnett opinion.

We discuss an exchange at the December 2016 Congressional Hearing on Mixed Martial Arts between the sponsor of the expansion to the Muhammad Ali Act, Markwayne Mullin and the UFC’s Jeff Novitsky regarding the reinstatement of Brock Lesnar.

Introductions: 1:04

Discussion about Presentation at SRLA:  2:31

Discussing UFC/USADA deal and the privacy concerns: 3:57

Survey re tracking of athletes provided to Fighters by USADA: 7:23

Discussion regarding leaving USADA testing pool:  11:36

Whether USADA is a state actor: 16:47

Does it matter that USADA is a third party:  20:14

Discussion on the Mark Hunt case: 21:21

Why won’t an Antitrust lawsuit work in this case: 31:24

Discussion about Jon Jones hearing: 33:30

Thoughts on Josh Barnett case:  34:30

Official complaint filed against Canelo Alvarez, NAC hearing set for April 18th

March 29, 2018

Executive Director Bob Bennett of the Nevada Athletic Commission has indicated that he has completed his investigation of the Canelo Alvarez drug-test failures for clenbuterol and filed an official complaint against Alvarez putting into doubt the Mexican superstar’s rematch with Gennady Golovkin.

According to Lance Pugmire of the LA Times, the NAC is seeking a one year suspension.

Alvarez is temporarily suspended pending a disciplinary hearing scheduled for April 18th.  A planned hearing to extend his temporary suspension has been canceled.

Alvarez blames tainted meat in Mexico as a reason for the drug test failures.  Since the findings, Alvarez has moved his training camp to the United States.

Despite past evidence that tainted meat can lead to a positive drug test, GGG’s camp has remained skeptical.

Payout Perspective:

The news is drawing concern from fans about the prospects that the huge Cinco de Mayo showdown will be nixed due to the findings.  Requests for ticket refunds for the fight are becoming more and more a possibility.  With the hearing so close to the fight, it will be a cliffhanger for both Canelo and GGG as to whether a huge, big money fight will be canceled.

Amanda Lemos accepts two-year UFC ban by USADA

March 28, 2018

With just one fight in the UFC, Amanda Lemos has been suspended two years by USADA for a violation of the UFC anti-doping policy.

The suspension comes due to a November 8, 2017 failed test after her promotional debut loss to Leslie Smith at UFC Fight Night 113.

Via USADA release:

Lemos, 30, tested positive for stanozolol and its metabolite 16β-hydroxystanozolol following an out-of-competition urine test conducted on November 8, 2017. Stanozolol is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

Lemos’ two-year period of ineligibility, the standard sanction for a first offense involving a non-Specified Substance, began on November 8, 2017, the date her positive sample was collected

Payout Perspective:

A loss for the 30-year-old as she will not be able to return to the UFC until the fall of next year.  Stanozol is used as a performance enhancing drug and its unlikely that the women’s bantamweight had a viable excuse for why it showed up on her test.

Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN draws 407,000 viewers

March 27, 2018

Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN Saturday night drew 407,000 viewers Saturday night.  The event headlined by Jose Martinez and Alejandro Santiago garnered 104,000 viewers in the A18-49 demo according to Nielsen via ShowBuzz Daily.

The telecast aired about the same time as the Elite Eight game between Florida State and Michigan.  The NCAA game on TBS drew 9.713 million viewers and 3.9 million viewers in the A18-49 demo.

Also, on Saturday was HBO Boxing with an afternoon telecast that replayed again on Saturday night.

Payout Perspective:

As with the HBO telecast, Saturday was a hard afternoon/night to compete with NCAA basketball as both boxing events did not draw that many viewers.

HBO Boxing After Dark ratings draw 387,000 viewers for live telecast; 424,000 for replay

March 27, 2018

HBO Boxing drew 387,000 viewers for a special afternoon “Boxing After Dark” on Saturday afternoon.  The replay which aired later that night drew 424,000 viewers per Nielsen.

The event featuring just one match between heavyweights Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne peaked with 444,000 viewers.  Whyte knocked out Browne in the sixth round.  The replay peaked at 490,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:

The live broadcast went up against the Elite Eight matchup between Loyola-Chicago and Kansas State on TBS.  The live boxing telecast went head-to-head with the first half of the game which saw the Cinderella Ramblers draw over 7.7 million viewers.  The replay went up against the second Elite Eight game on TBS which featured Florida State and Michigan.  That game drew over 9.7 million viewers.  It was a tough night for boxing although this was likely expected.

Endeavor purchases NeuLion for $250 million

March 26, 2018

Endeavor has purchased NeuLion for a reported $250 million in cash.  NeuLion provides digital video broadcasts of sporting and entertainment events and has been involved in UFC and boxing matches including last year’s Mayweather-McGregor PPV.

The deal calls for Endeavor to pay $0.84 per share of NeuLion outstanding common stock.  The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018 pending regulatory approval and other closing conditions.  Once the deal is final, NeuLion will become Endeavor’s privately held subsidiary.

According to the Sports Business Journal, NeuLion has experienced “pressure on revenue from the loss” of the NHL as a digital media partner.

Payout Perspective:

NeuLion came under fire during the Mayweather-McGregor PPV as global streams for the fight were not working, or experienced bad streaming.  Class-action lawsuits arose against Showtime, the UFC and NeuLion.  However, it appears that most of those lawsuits have been settled.  The purchase of NeuLion allows for the UFC to utilize its technology and revamp its direct-to-consumer model.  Daniel Cohen, Octagon Media Rights Consulting Senior VP noted that UFC Fight Pass is at more than 400,000 subscribers and is seeking an increase in its media-rights.

Has pro wrestling evolved with The Golden Lovers?

March 25, 2018

A gay wrestling tag team?  Almost 20 years ago, the WWE gained notoriety when Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo teased a gimmick in which they feigned a homosexual relationship which led to a televised “commitment ceremony.”  In 2018, a similar tag team relationship is being teased, but with the times, it is not that controversial.

Billy and Chuck received national attention for an alleged stunt in which they were going to have a commitment ceremony.  The WWE had worked with GLAAD in securing publicity for the event.  Once the ceremony took place (which turned out to be a swerve), GLAAD denounced the stunt as they were duped into helping the WWE obtain awareness for the purpose of gaining ratings.

The Golden Lovers, Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi are taking on The Young Bucks on Sunday Night in Long Beach, California in the main event of the New Japan Wrestling Show to be televised on AXS TV.  The promotion has taken off since airing on AXS and the event in Long Beach sold out its 6,500 or so venue within 15 minutes.

The issue of homosexuality in wrestling is no longer a de facto heel character as in the days of the WWE’s portrayals of Adrian Adonis or Goldust.  Omega even invites the thought that the characters may be homosexual.

For that matter, there is not much backlash from NJPW fans.  Arguably, Omega is the biggest fan favorite in the company, and maybe even all of pro wrestling.  His demand is through the roof and its clear that he is in no way looking to parlay his popularity into a shot in the WWE.

 

Via AXS TV

Omega does not care about the ambiguity of his character’s relationship with another man.  In an interview with Yahoo this week Omega let it be known:

“Let people think what they want to think.

If LGBT people can identify with our story, if they think ‘the Golden Lovers are my team,’ I’m good with that. It’s the story of two wrestlers who shared dreams on their way up, who became fast friends, who are now reuniting at the top of their game.

I think it’s important to show in the 21st century that if you’re gay, lesbian, trans, whatever, that you should feel just as welcome to be a wrestling fan as anyone else. You’re welcome in the space.”

Pro wrestling is made up of characters and sometimes it’s based on dredging up the stereotypes to illicit a response from the fans.  From the bad Russians, to the savage Samoans to the good guy American, characters were premised upon typecasts.  Since the WWE became a publicly traded company, the era of focusing on race, gender or ethnicity have largely gone by the wayside.

The newfound view of sexuality is inclusive for everyone and indicative of a new viewpoint on pro wrestling in 2018.  The fans have evolved and are much smarter and are less likely to be pulling for a wrestler based on vanilla characters.

Barnett receives only reprimand, no suspension, in USADA Arbitration hearing

March 23, 2018

Josh Barnett became the first UFC athlete to win an appeal through the UFC Anti-Doping Policy as a the opinion issued on Friday gave the heavyweight “no period of ineligibility.”  He only received a public reprimand but no suspension for the flagged drug test.

Josh Barnett wins USADA Arbitration by JASONCRUZ206 on Scribd


Barnett tested positive for a banned substance as a result of an out-of-competition sample on December 9, 2016.  The sample tested positive for Ostarine.

Barnett noted that he was routinely taking dietary supplements “to maintain his conditioning as an elite athlete.”  The opinion notes he took 17 supplements prior to providing the sample that came up positive for Ostarine.  Tributestin 750 was one of the supplements that was supposed to contain only Tribulus Terrestris.  Tribulus is not a Prohibited Substance.  “It is claimed to naturally support the production of testosterone among other positive health attributes.”

Through working with USADA, it was discovered through the process of supplement examination that Barnett’s Tributestin was contaminated with Ostarine.  After testimony at the hearing, USADA conceded that the source of the Ostarine found in Barnett’s out-of-competition samples were from Tributestin as the product was contaminated.  With this concession which USADA seemed to admit from the outset and confirmed with Barnett’s testimony, the case “became one of the Applicant being the victim of a Contaminated Product with a Prohibited Substance.”

Barnett’s prior history of failed drug tests was discussed and the matter of whether this was a second infraction of the UFC ADP.  However, the arbitrator determined that a drug sample taken by the California State Athletic Commission

Notably, Barnett, gave the UFC notice that he was taking a “leave of absence” on December 14, 2016.  Two weeks later, his A sample came up positive for Ostarine.

The arbitration hearing took place on March 6, 2018, 14 months after his sample was taken.  The Arbitrator seemed to be persuaded by Barnett’s testimony as he described his detail in trying to make sure that he was compliant with USADA rules.  Notably, after his dealings with the CSAC, he devised a practice of “keeping each original container of any supplement he used and ensuring that a small portion of its content remained and could be analyzed.”  This seemed to sway the trier of fact.

The Arbitrator noted:  “I find this Applicant to be a very meticulous and careful person.  In my experience as an arbitrator of hundreds of doping cases I have never heard testimony from an individual who has taken so much care to record his supplement regime in order to avoid the very problem he is now experiencing.

Payout Perspective:

Barnett’s prior fallout from drug issues was the reason that saved him here.  It was his cataloguing of what he takes plus the samples he had that persuaded USADA.  Could the system be fabricated?  Yes, but the presentation seemed to be compelling to the trier of fact.  So, it was not just cooperation plus providing all of the supplements to USADA, but the original bottles and samples taken which likely ensured that Barnett would not be suspended.  While it was curious that Barnett announced leaving the UFC for a time two weeks prior to his notice of his drug test results, it seemed to be of no consequence in the final conclusion.

April 10th NAC hearing to determine Canelo-GGG II after Alvarez temporarily suspended

March 23, 2018

ESPN reports Canelo Alvarez has been temporarily suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission after testing positive for the banned substance clenbuterol.  A hearing on April 10th will determine the fate of the rematch between Canelo and Gennady Golovkin.

Alvarez tested positive for clenbuterol in random urine tests conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association in Mexico on February 17th and February 20th.  Per commission regulations, the suspension was issued.  Alvarez claims that the positive tests were from eating contaminated beef due to a substance included in cattle feed because it helps reduce fat and increase lean muscle mass.  The substance is banned in the United States.

After the positive tests, the commission has required that Canelo take more tests as well as submit to questioning at the April 10th hearing.

The rematch with GGG set for May 5th is in jeopardy based on the commission findings next month.

Payout Perspective:

Cynically, we all feel that the commission will not step in the way of a fight that drew 1.3 million PPV buys and a gate of over $27 million.  If the commission granted Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor to change the size of their boxing gloves a couple weeks prior to the fight, I think your hotel reservations for Cinco de Mayo weekend are safe.  While the two positive tests may be of concern, I would think that Canelo and his camp will be able to devise a good explanation (backed by some evidence) regarding the positive tests.

Boxer Anthony Joshua being courted by Zuffa?

March 22, 2018

According to the UK’s Telegraph, the UFC is courting boxer Anthony Joshua to a $500 million deal.  Presumably, Joshua would compete for Zuffa Boxing, a creation of Dana White’s that came to light late last year.

Dana White will attend Joshua’s fight next week against Joseph Parker.  Joshua is one of the top Heavyweight’s in boxing and an eventual showdown with Deontay Wilder could be a huge PPV if it were to come together.

Currently, Joshua’s promoter is Eddie Hearn.  His camp has indicated they would listen to White if it makes sense.  $500 million would make Joshua the highest-paid combat sports athlete under the Zuffa umbrella.

There were rumors that Joshua would crossover into MMA but on a recent conference call promoting Saturday’s fight, he reaffirmed that he is strictly a boxer.

Payout Perspective:

If the rumors are true, Joshua would be a great way to launch Zuffa Boxing.  However, its not clear how Zuffa Boxing will be run.  While there is speculation that it would be more of a league, this might mean it would foreclose the possibility of inter-promotional matchups like one with Wilder.  It’s not clear whether $500 million is a real number but Joshua is one of boxing’s top stars in the UK.  It would make sense that if Zuffa signed Joshua, he would be the marquee name for the company.

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