Jon Jones enrolls in VADA testing

December 25, 2018

On Monday, ESPN reported that Jon Jones has enrolled into VADA as a result of UFC 232 being moved to California from Nevada.  Previously, Jones had turned down the suggestion by the California commissioners to enroll in VADA.

According to the ESPN story, a condition of Jones receiving his license was enrolling in the VADA program.  Jones is also committed to the UFC Anti-Doping Program conducted by USADA.

UFC 232, which occurs this Saturday was abruptly changed from Las Vegas, Nevada to Inglewood, California due to an out-of-competition test which was flagged by USADA for metabolites of the same banned substance Jones tested positive for in July 2017.  The UFC and USADA indicated that the test were remnants from July 2017 despite the fact that he had cleared several drug tests between then and now.

Payout Perspective:

Putting aside the PR gaffes going on here with Jones and his lawyer deciding not to let Jones go into VADA testing last week (with the knowledge of the failed out-of-competition test) and now deciding to sign up for it when essentially forced into the program, the question of this event is an issue.  Displaced fighters and fans have really made this event hard to support.  With additional testing, it puts a little more stress on Jones and also brings up the concern that he may not pass a drug test which would make this whole situation another catastrophe with Jon Jones at the center.

UFC 232 moves to LA due to Jon Jones drug test

December 23, 2018

Due to a drug test which revealed metabolites related to Turinabol in an out-of-competition test of Jon Jones, UFC 232 is moving from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada to The Forum in Inglewood, California.  The reason being is due to a licensing issue with the state of Nevada.

An out of competition drug test earlier this month from Jones turned up Turinabol, the same substance that caused his 15-month suspension.  Again, USADA indicated it had no idea where the Turnabol came from and there was some scientific things that were explained by UFC executive Jeff Novitsky.  But, to be honest, not of that really matters.

Why?  Well, what I explained above and from reading multiple reports indicates that Jon Jones had a test flagged for a banned substance.  This also means he failed a drug test.  Brett Okamoto succinctly breaks it down

How a residual amount of the substance can stay in one’s system for over a year is baffling.

USADA does provide an explanation:

Last week the California State Athletic Commission gave approval to Jones for a temporary license despite its concerns with how USADA handled Jones’ case.  Rather than take Jones off the card, it has moved the entire show to another state where Jones has a license.

This did not take into consideration the money expended by fans and athletes for attending the event this Saturday.  The UFC indicated fans will get refunds on the Nevada tickets but it does not account for the hotel and airfare fans had expended.

Payout Perspective:

This is a complete public relations disaster by the UFC.  The only saving grace for the UFC is for Dana White to throw his tantrum similar to the one he gave about Greg Hardy being in the UFC.  Then, he’ll just enlist some folks to shout down those questioning him.  Why one fighter has this much importance and is getting the benefit of the doubt once again reflects that the UFC is built on just a handful of stars.  And those stars take advantage of the UFC just as much as the UFC takes advantage of them.  The good news, is the UFC probably knows that they are going to score on PPV no matter the inconvenience of the fans.

As for the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, USADA is showing its flexibility in dealing with Jon Jones.  Not only has it once again emphasized that this test result was not his fault, it is not sanctioning him.  Yet, it cannot invest on determining why Jones had this in his body in the first place.  Moreover, in discussing this issue, it skirts the issue about Jones failing the drug test which would likely take him off this card.

Notably, California suggested Jones enroll in VADA to clarify any issues with his image.  Jones denied it.  And his opponent this Saturday, Alexander Gustafsson noticed.

He does mean VADA testing above but its clear that he doesn’t believe in Jon Jones’ drug test capabilities.

Jon Jones declines California’s suggestion of VADA testing

December 19, 2018

MMA Junkie reports that Jon Jones is skipping VADA testing despite the recommendation by the California State Athletic Commission earlier this month.  He is scheduled to return to the Octagon on December 29th at UFC 232.

CSAC recently granted Jones a license to fight ahead of next Saturday’s Light Heavyweight showdown with Alexander Gustafsson.  Some of the commissioners at the hearing opined that maybe getting tested by VADA would dismiss any further speculation about Jones using PEDs.

Via MMA Junkie:

As a sweetener, the commission essentially agreed to pay for the extra effort, subtracting the costs of VADA’s fees from a $205,000 fine Jones paid for a positive steroid test at UFC 214 that also cost him his license. Initially, Jones appeared open to the idea of testing. Jacobs later qualified that his client was “agreeable in principle” to VADA but needed to see the fine print of what was required.

Howard Jacobs, Jones’ attorney, told MMA Junkie that there were “some issues” with the CSAC suggestion. VADA is known to many as an alternative to USADA when it comes to athlete drug testing.  It conducts comprehensive “Olympic style” drug testing and passes test results directly to athletic commissions.  It also does not conduct its own results management.

Jones had failed a drug test at UFC 214 held in Anaheim, California in July 2017 which required him to return to the jurisdiction of California to seek a license.

Payout Perspective:

In addition to the NSAC testing, Jones will be subject the standard USADA testing under the UFC Anti-Doping Program.  Declining to the VADA testing can be seen as a hit against his public image but I’m not sure if its too much of a hit considering that most of his strongest critics are MMA fans.  The additional VADA testing can be just intrusive especially if he is still subject to Nevada and USADA.  Also, there is an inference that there were additional strings attached.  Yet, if turns up with another failed test, this could spell the end for Jones.

UFC Featherweight accepts 2 year ban

December 17, 2018

The UFC announced that Indian Featherweight Bharat Vijay Kandare has accepted a two-year sanction from USADA after testing positive for a banned substance.

The 31-year-old featherweight competitor tested positive for exogenous boldenone and its metabolites, as well as a metabolite of tamoxifen, following an out-of-competition test conducted on July 23, 2018.

Via USADA release:

USADA announced today that Bharat Vijay Kandare, of Maharashtra, India, has accepted a two-year sanction for a violation of the UFC® Anti-Doping Policy after testing positive for prohibited substances.

Kandare, 31, tested positive for exogenous boldenone and its metabolites, as well as a metabolite of tamoxifen, following an out-of-competition test conducted on July 23, 2018. Boldenone is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and tamoxifen is a Specified Substance in the class of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators. Both substances are prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

“The goal of the UFC Anti-Doping Program is to deter the use of performance-enhancing drugs and this necessarily means we will identify and hold accountable those who use performance-enhancing substances to gain an advantage in the Octagon,” said USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart. “As the Program continues to grow and innovate, we will do our best to continue to protect clean athletes so that athletes can win in the Octagon without cheating and endangering their health and safety and that of their competitors.”

Kandares’s two-year period of ineligibility began on November 2, 2018, the date on which he was provisionally suspended from competition.

Kandare had just one fight in the UFC in November 2017 at UFC Fight Night 122 in Shanghai, China.  He lost to Yadong Song.

We will see if we ever see Kandare ever again in the UFC.  At 31, he just had one fight in November 2017 and will not be able to come back to the UFC until November 2020.

 

Former UFC vet and TUF competitor suspended 4 years by NSAC for use of fake urine

November 14, 2018

Former UFC fighter and TUF contestant Cody McKenzie was suspended 4 years by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing to give a urine sample prior to an MMA event in September. McKenzie then tried to provide the commission with fake urine.

The commission decided the 4 years suspension at Tuesday’s hearing. McKenzie did not appear.

According to the commission complaint, McKenzie did not provide a sample to the commission representative the night of his fight. He then provided a fake sample. He then told the representative that he “smoked pot” that day.

McKenzie was ordered to pay costs and fees in the amount of $944.84 associated with the hearing.

Payout Perspective:

If you were to read the commission findings, it sounds that McKenzie attempted to use a “whizzinator” to fake a urine test. The former TUF competitor has had a winding career that has had no direction and clearly suffers from discipline among other issues. A concern about this suspension is that McKenzie will be unable to fight for a living which may be a detriment.

O’Malley gets six month suspension from NSAC

November 14, 2018

Sean O’Malley was handed a six month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for failing an out-of-competition drug test.  O’Malley may return in March pending a potential additional suspension from USADA.

The bantamweight discovered on Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contender Series will also have to pay costs and fees associated with his hearing before the commission on Tuesday in the amount of $472.42.

O’Malley revealed his flagged drug test via social media as the UFC policy of revealing the names of athletes that have drug tests flagged has been changed.  USADA will not reveal the name of athletes until the resolution of the case.  O’Malley decided to tell his fans despite the new rule to let them know his status.

According to the NSAC ruling, O’Malley may return to action on March 6th pending drug tests prior to his date of return.

O’Malley explained that a dietary supplement containing a banned substance may have been the culprit.  Since O’Malley’s test did not occur post-fight, he was not fined aside from paying costs and fees associated with the hearing.

Payout Perspective:

While there is no written finding that there was a tainted supplement, it appears that this may be the case.  Since O’Malley was cooperative and able to pinpoint the source for the failure, the punishment from the commission was relatively nothing.  Of course, he will have to wait for USADA to finish its official investigation.  It could tack on extra months or decide that the six months is sufficient.  A fortunate outcome for the promising young bantamweight.

UFC middleweight announces USADA test positive for ostarine

November 1, 2018

Although it has yet to be announced due to new UFC Anti-Doping Policy rules, middleweight Marvin Vettori has announced that he has been flagged for a positive test of ostarine.

MMA Junkie reported Vettori’s announcement made on his Instagram account.  Vettori’s last fight was this past April with a split decision loss to Israel Adesanya.  Notably, “The Style Bender” will fight this weekend at UFC 230 against Derek Brunson.

Vettori described having “a very low trace of ostarine.”  According to his social media post, he has been working with USADA since August.  He believes it to be a contaminated product that caused the test for ostarine.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Hi guys, many of you are asking me everyday when my next fight is going to be, so I thought to do this video to explain you the current situation. It is right that you know from me what happened, that I can tell you what happened in the most straightforward way possible. At the seventh USADA test, I was found positive for a very low trace of ostarine, and since August Im still in the middle of the process of it and I’m waiting for final news. No official press release has yet been done, because the new USADA policy is to say nothing until the confirmation of all the tests, given the many cases of contamination or accidental, like mine. Since the beginning of my career I have always been a clean fighter, I have never intentionally assumed anything that could favor my performances inside the cage because I am convinced that the results are the result of sacrifice, dedication, blood and sweat. This is just a small stop on the way to achieve what I have set. As soon as I will be allowed to return to the cage, I will do it as always at my best and with only one goal in mind. I thank Jeff Notivky for helping me understand the steps in this process with the USADA and I thank the USADA for keeping our sport clean. I thank my team and all of you who follow me everyday. I have never stopped training and I will never do it, the goal remains the same. #theitaliandream

A post shared by Marvin Vettori (@marvinvettori) on

Payout Perspective:

This week we saw Polo Reyes come back from a six-month suspension due to a contaminated product.  If this is the case for Vettori, he may be facing a similar sanction.  This new strategy for a fighter to self-announce the findings puts the responsibility of revealing the information on the fighter rather than USADA.  Whether good or bad, its for the fighter to decide how to let fans know why they are out for a longer period of time.  We have seen Sean O’Malley do the same thing.  Vettori decided to follow suit as well.

UFC lightweight back after 6 month USADA suspension

October 31, 2018

On Monday, USADA announced that UFC lightweight Polo Reyes has accepted a six-month sanction for violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.

Reyes tested positive for ostarine after an out-of-competition test on March 8, 2018.

Via USADA press release:

Reyes, 33, tested positive for ostarine following an out-of-competition test conducted on March 8, 2018. Ostarine 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 (WADA) Prohibited List.

Ostarine, also known as MK-2866 and Enobosarm, is a selective androgen receptor modulator (SARM) that is illegally sold worldwide as a performance-enhancing substance. Ostarine is not currently available as a prescription medication in any country, and its unauthorized use may carry serious side effects. Nonetheless, ostarine has been found as a declared and undeclared ingredient in many dietary supplements. More information about the risks of ostarine can be found through a USADA athlete advisory.

Following notification of his positive test, Reyes provided USADA with information about two dietary supplement products he was using at the time of the relevant sample collection. Although no prohibited substances were listed on the supplement labels, testing conducted on independently sourced, unopened containers of the products by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah, indicated that they contained Ostarine.

Reyes is the first UFC fighter to have his suspension announced after serving it.

Payout Perspective:

Since coming to the UFC in 2015, Reyes has had two Performance of the Nights including his last fight in January 2018 where be beat Matt Frevola via KO/TKO.  Notably, Reyes worked with USADA to determine the cause of his failed test.  With the suspension behind him, Reyes may continue his lightweight career with the company.

Deontay Wilder files appeal brief in Povetkin Meldonium case

October 22, 2018

Deontay Wilder filed its appeal brief in requesting that the court overturn the trial court’s ruling in favor of World of Boxing and Alexander Povetkin.  The appeal highlights an incongruent ruling by the court which appeared to defer to the World Boxing Council in its determination of Povetkin’s drug test failure.

The match between the two heavyweights was set by the World Boxing Council to take place in May 2016 in Moscow, Russia.  Wilder was training in England when he learned that Povetkin and tested positive for a banned substance.  Wilder decided to return to the United States instead of going to Russia believing that the fight was cancelled due to the failed drug test.  Povetkin and his promotion, World of Boxing claims that Wilder breached the contract when he failed to go to Russia for the match which prompted the WBC to cancel the fight.

In limbo is a purse of $7.15 million still in escrow.  The trial court granted World of Boxing’s request for the escrow money to be return.  Of course, Wilder believed that he should be granted his share of the money since Povetkin failed the drug test.  A lawsuit filed by the heavyweight champion ensued in which WOB and Povetkin filed counterclaims against Wilder.

From our post this past April:

In February 2017, a jury just took 32 minutes to determine that Povetkin took the banned substance Meldonium post-January 1, 2016, however that did not mean much in the outcome of this Summary Judgment motion.

One of the overarching issues in the lawsuit as to who is to blame for the failed fight in Russian in May 2016.  You might infer from the news of a failed drug test from Povetkin that it was the Russian.  However, Povetkin claimed that Wilder’s failure to appear in Russia forced the hand of the regulating body, the WBC, to call off the fight.

The WBC Bout Agreement takes precedent here as the Court examines the contract in applying basic contract principles.  But in its application, there seem to be things that don’t make sense.

“We begin by noting that the Bout Agreement contains no language mandating that each fighter refrain from ingesting banned substances.”

The inference one might yield from this sentence of the Court opinion is that tis ok to used banned substances.  Based on this, the Court held that Povetkin did not breach the Bout Agreement because it cannot conclude when/if he ingested the banned substance Meldonium. Obviously, this is opposite the jury finding.

The good news for Wilder is that there was no finding of a breach of the Bout Agreement when Wilder did not go to Russia for the fight with Povetkin.  The Court notes, “[t]here is simply no evidence that the WBC’s postponement decision was a “normal or foreseeable consequence” of Wilder’s actions, or that Wilder’s acts otherwise caused the WBC’s decision.”  Povetkin and World of Boxing sought $2.5 million in liquidated damages that was part of the Escrow Agreement.  “While the WOB Parties argue that it was Wilder’s failure to appear in Moscow, rather than Povetkin’s positive test result, that caused the WBC to postpone the Bout…no reasonable jury could indulge in the speculation that would be required to conclude that this was so,” stated the Court opinion.  It went on to state, “[B]ecause a reasonable jury could not find that any breach by the Wilder Parties proximately caused the WOB Parties’ damages, the Wilder Parties’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the WOB Parties’ claim for breach of the Bout Agreement is granted.”

As for the escrow funds, World of Boxing is entitled to its release held in escrow but no interest because no judgment was entered against Wilder.

The claims for defamation filed by Povetkin remain although they may be dismissed pending further movement in this case.

The Court opinion seems to fly in the face of the original jury finding that Povetkin took Meldonium post-January 2016.  The opinion seems to lean entirely on the WBC Agreement for its determination on its procedure in determining the status of Povetkin based upon his drug tests.  The Court quotes WBC Rules and Regulations when it notes, “the WBC may in its discretion consider all factors in making a determination regarding responsibility, relative fault, and penalties, if any.”

The WBC did not issue a ruling on Povetkin’s positive drug test until August 17, 2016.  It noted that it called the bout off and reserved any further ruling.  It then determined that it was not “possible to ascertain that Mr. Povetkin ingested Meldonium after January 1, 2016.  After two additional rulings by the WBC which opposed the August 17, 2016 ruling, it overturned the decision and stuck with its August ruling.  It based this on a study showing Meldonium having the ability to stay in one’s system for more than five months.  It also noted Povetkin had negative drug tests six other times.

The WBC seemed to be dragging its feet in this case as it put off the ruling on Povetkin despite the litigation moving ahead.  There’s also the issue of Povetkin’s positive test for ostarine which happened after the lawsuit began.  Yet, the WBC did not penalize him for this and even stressed negative drug tests notwithstanding the two positive tests for Meldonium and ostarine.

The appeal brief, which was filed in August 31, 2018, brought up the glaring disparity in issues regarding the WBC ruling and that of the jury trial.

Wilder notes that the WBC confirmed in its August 2016 ruling that the bout was called off due to Povetkin’s positive test.  In December 2016, Povetkin tested positive for another banned substance.  It issued a March 2017 ruling which doled out an indefinite suspension and a $250,000 fine.  But, in November 2017, it issued another ruling which amended the indefinite suspension to a fixed one-year fine and reaffirmed its ruling that it could not be found whether Povetkin ingested meldonium post-January 1, 2017.

Wilder points out that WOB’s attorney argued to the Court that “only the WBC, and not a jury, was competent to decide the issue, and that a jury verdict would merely be an advisory opinion.” Despite the trial judge’s disagreement, WOB attorney believed that the contractual agreement of the WBC would be the controlling factor in determining whether Povetkin took Meldonium.

However, Wilder believes that the District Court’s interpretation of the Bout Agreement was wrong.  Wilder argues that the “WBC does not have the discretion to resolve private disputes between parties to a contract.”  The Bout Agreement includes a clause which states that the parties “irrevocably accept and consent to the jurisdiction of” the District Court to “resolve any disputes arising out of” the Bout Agreement.” Wilder claims that whether or not Povetkin ingested Meldonium constituting a breach of the Bout Agreement is clearly a dispute arising out of the agreement, over which the District Court has exclusive jurisdiction.  Essentially, while the Bout Agreement gives discretion to the WBC, it does not supersede the authority of the courts to interpret the contract.  And Wilder argues, “[b]y cedeing the decision regarding whether Povetkin breached the Bout Agreement to the WBC,” it committed reversible error.  Additionally, the counterclaims filed by WOB and Povetkin reflect the authority of the courts over the WBC Bout Agreement.

Wilder also argued that even if the appellate court holds that the trial court was correct in holding that the WBC and not the trial court could determine whether the Bout Agreement was breached, it caused error in its application of the facts of the case.

Wilder cites the following press release from the WBC:

They also argue that the date of the bout is a material term in the contract.  Thus, whether or not the date of the bout was postponed is not relevant.  WOB asserts that Wilder breached the agreement due to his failure to fly to Russia for the intended fight.  Wilder cites several cases in which the exact date of the events is deemed essential to the terms of the contracts.

Following along the line of logic that the WBC had some authority in its contract, Wilder argues that the WBC delegated its duty to the trial court:

As a result, Wilder argues that the WBC applied a “strict liability” standard wherein if a jury found that Povetkin ingested Meldonium after January 1, 2017, he would be stripped of his mandatory challenger status which meant that his fight with Wilder would be off the table.

Wilder also indicates something amiss with what may be infers as a “quid pro quo” with Povetkin and the WBC. Pointing out the press release by the WBC, it seems as though if Povetkin paid his fine, he would be reinstated.

In a footnote of its brief, Wilder states that the trial court denied a request to reopen discovery on this limited issue but Wilder request this court again.

Finally, Wilder argues that he is entitled to the escrow property in the amount of $4,369,365 as a result of WOB’s breach of the Bout Agreement.

Payout Perspective:

This is a fascinating legal case premised on the basic tenets of a contract. The trial court’s decision to side with Povetkin and WOB in determining that the WBC would be the only entity capable of deciding whether Povetkin ingested Meldonium seems out of line with the job of the court to interpret the contract when a dispute comes before it. We have seen with the Austin Trout case that the Court has deferred to the drafter of the private contract despite the aggrieved party bringing a lawsuit. MMA Payout will continue to follow once WOB files its appellate brief.

UFC welterweight accepts 2 year sanction for cocaine use

October 16, 2018

USADA has announced that UFC UK fighter Bradley Scott has accepted a two-year sanction for violating the UFC Anti-Doping Program.  Scott tested positive for cocaine metabolites per an in-competition test.

Via USADA press release:

Scott, 29, tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, as the result of a urine sample he provided in-competition on May 27, 2018, at Fight Night 130 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. Cocaine is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Stimulants and prohibited in-competition under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List.

USADA conducted a thorough investigation into Scott’s case and determined Scott had not provided verifiable evidence regarding the circumstances that led to his positive test. Scott’s two-year period of ineligibility, the standard sanction for a first offense involving a non-Specified Substance, began on July 3, 2018, the date his provisional suspension was imposed.

The former TUF Smashes contestant will not be able to return to the UFC until July 2020.

Payout Perspective:

The finding should be a disappointment for the 29-year-old welterweight who is 3-5 in the UFC and on a 2-fight losing streak.  Arguably, cocaine should not be considered a PED but a recreational drug.  It would be interesting to know if Scott would be required to attend some sort of education regarding the drug to ensure he does not have an issue with the drug.

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