CSAC revokes Jon Jones’ fight license and fines him $205,000 for failed drug test

February 27, 2018

The California State Athletic Commission unanimously voted (6-0) to revoke Jon Jones’ fight license and invoke a $205,000 fine against him for a banned steroid in his system discovered in a pre-fight drug test at UFC 214.

The $205,000 fine is 40% of his $500,000 disclosed pay (plus $5,000) for his matchup with Daniel Cormier at UFC 214 on July 29th.

At a hearing held on Tuesday morning, the California State Athletic Commission heard Jones’ testimony as well as those from two experts that opined on Jones’ test results and how he could have had Turanibol and its metabolites in Jones’ system.  Jones did not dispute the finding but seemed to rest his case on the fact that he did not knowingly take the substance.  Jones did not appear to be a very good witness advocating on his own behalf.

Notably, Dr. Daniel Eichner stated that he has never heard of an case where a medication, supplement or otherwise to have been tainted with Turanibol or its metabolites.

Jones may re-apply for a CSAC license at the conclusion of his case with USADA.  Jones will need to make a request before the CSAC and receive a majority vote.  His license revocation was set to expire on August 28th per ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto.

USADA has yet to rule on Jones’ case although his representatives believe it could happen as soon as next month.  According to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, Jones, a potential second-time offender, could be facing a 4-year ban.

Typically, other states would honor California’s license revocation, so any thought that Jones could fight in another state is unlikely.

Payout Perspective:

The prospects of Jones in a UFC octagon in 2018 looks bleak.  While, the CSAC did not issue a longer suspension, it appears that they are awaiting USADA to do the duty.  Jones’ admission to the test findings likely seals his fate.  The strategy of arguing that Jones did not knowingly take Turinabol but offering no other reason for the test had no effect in mitigating the penalties.  I would not expect USADA to mitigate any penalty either but we shall see.

California adopts new rule for those not making weight

March 14, 2017

MMA Fighting reports that the California State Athletic Commission has enacted a new rule that will fine a fighter’s win bonus in addition to his or her show money when that fighter misses weight.

Commission head Andy Foster announced the new rule at a commission meeting on Tuesday.

Via MMA Fighting:

CSAC fined fighters’ 20 percent for missing weight, with the money coming out of their show money only. Half of that percentage went to the opponent and the other half went to the commission. Now, in addition to that, a fighter who misses weight will have his or her win bonus fined 20 percent, with that full total going to the opponent. The win bonus fine will only come into play, of course, if the fighter who misses weight is victorious in the bout.

Foster indicated that the win bonus for the fighter missing weight should be considered a part of the purse money and should be awarded to the fighter that made weight.

The new rule shall be implemented in bout agreements once contracts reflecting the changes are drafted and approved.

In addition, the committee is looking into ways to address extreme weight-cutting and hope to have more information at their next meeting this May.

Payout Perspective:

This is an interesting twist to addressing the issue of weight-cutting.  Of course, the rule might negatively impact the overall goal of ensuring that fighters safely cut weight.  Certainly, fighters not making weight should be punished but the commission also wants to ensure the health and safety of fighters.  If a fighter knows they will lose more money for not making weight, it might lead to extreme measures which might cause further harm to a fighter trying to make weight.  Obviously, for the fighter making weight, the extra money makes sense.

As an alternative to the fine, there could be an alternative of expanding to more weight divisions.  But, we will see how this rule plays out in California and if other commissions adopt it.

Hendo’s $800K tops UFC 199 salaries

June 7, 2016

UFC 199 salaries were disclosed by the California State Athletic Commission. Dan Henderson topped the list of fighters earning $800,000.

Via MMA Junkie:

Michael Bisping: $250,000 (no win bonus)
def. Luke Rockhold: $250,000

Dominick Cruz: $350,000 (no win bonus)
def. Urijah Faber: $160,000

Max Holloway: $150,000 (includes $75,000 win bonus)
def. Ricardo Lamas: $53,000

Dan Henderson: $800,000 (includes $200,000 win bonus)
def. Hector Lombard: $53,000

Dustin Poirier: $110,000 (includes $55,000 win bonus)
def. Bobby Green: $24,000

Brian Ortega: $46,000 (includes $23,000 win bonus)
def. Clay Guida: $55,000

Beneil Dariush: $62,000 (includes $31,000 win bonus)
def. James Vick: $23,000

Jessica Andrade: $40,000 (includes $20,000 win bonus)
def. Jessica Penne: $20,000

Alex Caceres: $48,000 (includes $24,000 win bonus)
def. Cole Miller: $33,000

Sean Strickland: $46,000 (includes $23,000 win bonus)
def. Tom Breese: $19,000

Luis Henrique da Silva: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Jonathan Wilson: $12,000

Kevin Casey: $15,000
vs. Elvis Mutapcic: $16,000

Polo Reyes: $24,000 (includes $12,000 win bonus)
def. “Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim: $10,000

Payout Perspective:

Reyes and Kim, the two lowest, reported paid fighters earned a Fight of the Night bonus.  Henderson’s $800,000 ($600,000 show, $200,000 win) is one of the highest-reported salaries for a UFC fighters.  His last official reported purse was at UFC 173 where he made $100,000 in a loss to Daniel Cormier.  Including the Cormier fight, he has gone 2-3 since then.  Aside from Conor McGregor’s purported salary, Anderson Silva has made $600K/$200K.  Also, Dominick Cruz earned $350,000 which is a considerable boost from winning the title this past January.  At UFC Fight Night 81, Cruz earned $110,000 ($55K/$55K).

Despite ban, Shlemenko to fight in Russia

January 23, 2016

MMA Junkie reports that former Bellator middleweight Alexander Shlemenko is slated to fight in Russia despite a three-ban by the California State Athletic Commission for alleged steroid use.

Last June, Shlemenko was suspended 3 years and fined $10,000 by the California State Atheltic Commission.  It was the harshest penalty against an MMA fighter since it began regulating the sport.

Shlemenko filed a lawsuit in California seeking judicial review of the commission ruling.  The case is stil ongoing, but Shlemenko believed that he could no longer wait on a determination and took the fight in Russia for the M-1 Global promotion.  According to a report from Bloody Elbow, Shlemenko stated that Bellator gave him written permission to fight for M-1.

The CSAC indicated that it would not take further administrative action against Shlemenko since it had no jurisdiction.  It is not known whether the CSAC would use Shlemenko’s decision to fight elsewhere in the court case.

Payout Perspective:

At the age of 31, you can understand why Shlemenko is seeking somewhere to continue his career.  Despite being banned by the CSAC, one had to know that this would be a possibility with a 3 year ban.  The inevitable return of Shlemenko reflects the fact that a state commission’s reach when banning fighters can only be so far.  Even if Shlemenko were to lose his court case, it’s clear that a fighter can find other promotions to continue fighting if the promotion is willing.

Shlemenko suspended 3 years and fined $10K by CSAC

June 24, 2015

Alexander Shlemenko was suspended three years and fined $10,000 by the California State Athletic Commission as it is the harshest penalty against an MMA fighter since it began regulating the sport.  In addition, Shlemenko’s win against Melvin Manhoef at Bellator 133 has been overturned.

The commission voted unanimously by a 7-0 vote in favor of the penalty.  Although Shlemenko’s attorney, Howard Jacobs, argued that there was a lack of a “B” sample and a possible violation for not splitting the urine sample.  The commission did not agree with Jacobs’ arguments.

But the commission did not agree.  The fact that Manhoef was knocked out by Shlemenko may have played a role in his penalty.  Of course, Shlemenko’s tests were another reason.  Per MMA Junkie, the tests revealed the steroid oxandrolone and oxandrolone metabolites as well as a testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 50-1 in Shlemenko’s post-fight urine test (the commission’s limit is 4-1).

It is not known if Shlemenko will appeal but if he does not, at 31 years old, it’s unlikely we’ll see him fight again.

UPDATED:  According to Combat Sport Law’s Erik Magraken, Shlemenko will seek judicial review of the commission ruling.  I would expect that this will happen more if commission’s seek to dole out these stiff penalties.  Realistically, what does Shlemenko have to lose?  His career is likely over if he accepts the punishment.

Payout Perspective:

One would think that if Shlemenko has a compelling case, his attorney could still appeal the commission decision by seeking a judicial review in a California Superior Court.  The heavy-handed penalty reflects a newfound position by athletic commissions in light of the UFC’s stance on PEDs.  There is an argument that the penalty is unjust but the commission can point to the glaring test results and the T/E ratio to justify its suspension.  Moreover, the TKO victory might have persuaded commissioners to allow the penalty as one commissioner put it that Shlemenko could have killed Manhoef.  We shall see if this decision will be appealed.

14 for 14: No. 8 TRT banned by NAC, UFC and others

December 28, 2014

In February 2014, an investigative report by ESPN on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) in MMA revealed the practice of fighters utilizing a diagnosis of low testosterone for the usage of synthetic testosterone.

Not surprising, Dana White called out the ESPN report as an embellishment.  He noted that 5 fighters had TRT exemptions out of the “500 guys under contract.”  Still, the UFC issued a ban on the use as well.

It started with the Nevada Athletic Commission in February when it unanimously voted to ban TRT in MMA.  The UFC also decreed a ban.  In addition, other states including California and also Brazil followed suit with a ban on therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).

If Dan Henderson’s performance against Daniel Cormier at UFC 173 is an indication as to what happens after a fighter (Henderson benefited from the TRT exemption) comes off of TRT, the ban may have an effect on future fights and fighters.

Notably, Vitor Belfort, the next challenger to Chris Weidman’s light heavyweight title benefited from TRT.  ESPN highlighted Belfort in its February expose on the practice.  Belfort withdrew from his title fight against Weidman earlier in the year due to the Nevada ban on TRT.  Belfort chose not to apply for a license for the fight and Lyoto Machida stepped in.

Belfort was awarded a license by Nevada in July provided he would concede to random blood and urine testing.  However, Belfort was only tested once since July to the consternation of Chris Weidman.  His fight against Chris Weidman was moved to California where the CSAC will take over testing of Belfort.

Payout Perspective:

The ban on TRT in MMA was a step in the right direction for the sport in 2014.  It offered legitimacy to the sport as the use of TRT was perceived as cheating by many.  And while the ban may not be fair for a fighter like Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, it was likely the right move.

California follows Nevada in banning TRT

March 6, 2014

MMA Junkie reports that the California State Athletic Commission has followed the Nevada State Athletic Commission in restricting the use of testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT).  At this time, it has instituted a complete ban on TRT.

Andy Foster, the California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer issued the following statement on California’s banning TRT.

The California State Athletic Commission fully supports the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s decision to eliminate Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) for Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) in boxing and mixed martial arts. California is a strong supporter of anti-doping efforts. As part of California’s anti-doping efforts, the Commission recently began the rulemaking process to require meeting World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards as the only way to obtain a TUE for TRT. This standard is so high that it is an effective ban except under the most extreme circumstances. Until the rulemaking process is complete and the regulations are fully adopted, the Commission has a total ban on TRT. California remains committed to protecting the health and safety of athletes and having strict anti-doping standards is one of the ways this is accomplished.

Payout Perspective:

The move by California to negate therapeutic-use exemptions (TUE) for TRT is a sign that the dominos may seemingly fall when it comes to the use of TRT.  While TUEs for TRTs may still be obtained, the standards for receiving the exemption are so that most athletes currently using TRT would not meet WADA standards.  Certainly, the ESPN “Outside the Lines” story on TRT helped sway public opinion of the use in MMA.  We will see how many other commissions follow suit.

Sonnen suspension cut to 6 months at appeal hearing

December 5, 2010

As many of you know, UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen reduced his year long suspension to 6 months this past Thursday at his appeal hearing before the California State Athletic Commission. With his attorneys, Sonnen used several defenses claiming that the protocol of the CSAC did not provide a mechanism for him to reveal his reasons for using testosterone.

Hypogonadism. This was the primary argument made by Sonnen’s defense. In sum, Sonnen lacks testosterone of normal men. As a result, he allegedly did not go through puberty. The legal theory behind this is that since Sonnen suffers from hypogonadism, he is protected under the American with Disabilities Act and should be able to fight. As the Fight Opinion points out, the ADA was not drafted to cover Professional MMA Fighters. The argument is artfully crafted, but practically illogical. A person whose profession is mixed martial arts, claims he has a disability which requires them to use a substance known to enhance athletic ability. Another interesting argument provided by his counsel was that at UFC 117’s pre-fight drug screen Sonnen felt uncomfortable about writing down that he used TRT because he was in a room full of fighters. Did Sonnen need to show the rest of the fighters what he wrote down or did the commission representative state out loud what everyone other fighter was using.? In his own testimony, Sonnen said that he did not want to relive being teased as a child and thus did not disclose TRT use.

At the hearing, Sonnen claims that he was told by Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer that he did not need to disclose the fact that he was using testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Kizer denies that he ever told Sonnen this. Yet, this claim creates an ambiguity for the public to question whether Kizer had spoken with Sonnen about TRT. Thus, it wasn’t Sonnen’s fault that he didn’t disclose because Kizer told him he did not need to. It seemed that Sonnen’s defense team tried to use the NSAC as a template for what Sonnen thought would happen with the CSAC.

In their opening statement, Sonnen’s counsel laid out its defense and testimony, notwithstanding objection, which was much more persuasive than any testimony they could have ellicited that day. It can be argued that they basically read their arguments into the record to ensure the arguments were clearly articulated rather than rely on witnesses. The attorney for California made reference that the Commission comment on the record the credibility of the witnesses if this case were heard in a court of law.

Sonnen’s physician was not a credible witness. Although the hearing was not a court of law, I would think that the doctor would have dressed up a little more for it. It looked like he was just reading off of script and being fed line by line testimony.

The CSAC appeared unprepared, unorganized and not in control of the hearing. They were concerned about time and someone had to leave early. I was put off when the commission asked, “Who is Dana White?” Yes, the commission does cover a lot of issues, but shouldn’t it know the head of the UFC? Perhaps the UFC should do more in getting its name out to the commissions that regulate it? (I’m somewhat joking). Truly not its best hour.

After the hearing, Sonnen took part in post-hearing damage control by appearing in an exclusive interview with Mike Straka on Inside MMA:

Payout Perspective:

Prior to seeing the hearing, I followed the hearing via tweets and summaries on the internet. My initial reaction was that the defense was swinging for the fences in trying to clear Sonnen’s name. After viewing the hearing on ustream (h/t Fight Lawyer), I thought the Sonnen defense created enough of a defense for CSAC to cut his suspension in half (although the fine remained the same). The hypogonadism defense was “creative” and provided pretext for the underlying argument about the lack of protocol for informing officials about TRT.

The attorney for the State of California was decent. He did bring up the Casey Martin case when addressing the ADA claim.  In their closing, Sonnen’s attorney seemed to back of the ADA argument.

It will be interesting to see when Sonnen will next appear in the UFC.  When he returns, will Sonnen continue to use TRT, and if so, will he be cleared to fight by a state commission. What about if the fight was in Vegas? Would Keith Kizer let this happen?

As for Sonnen’s post-hearing interview, like a politician, he provided his talking points about the commission’s lack of protocol in informing about TRT usage. The questions were not biting or hard, but more of feeding Sonnen so that he was able to get out his major points. Also, Sonnen introduced a “red herring“, a federal government investigation. He did not go into specifics, but it has to do with the reason he had to pull out of the state senate race in Oregon.

Not to neglect a sponsorship opportunity, Sonnen wore a GreenLightDaily.com t-shirt.  Does anyone know what it is? The web site doesn’t have much on it.

Sonnen appeal hearing before CSAC Thursday

December 2, 2010

Chael Sonnen will break his silence Thursday as he appeals the California State Athletic Commission ruling that he used a banned substance prior to his fight with Anderson Silva at UFC. 117. The CSAC fined Sonnen $2,500 and suspended his license for a year beginning Sept. 2, 2010.

A huge hurdle Sonnen will face is his response to why he used Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs). There is much debate as to whether he will be able to use the defense that he was using testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) but did not realize that he needed to seek an exempton prior to each fight. But, it seems that this theory will fall flat since Sonnen never requested an exemption for TRT . Prior to his fight with Nate Marquardt, he requested and received an exemption to take Soma/carisprodol, a muscle relaxer and an anti-acne medication.

The details of the hearing are here in this pdf. The information pertaining to Sonnen starts at page 31.

Sonnen’s paperwork for his pre-fight drug tests indicates that Sonnen took 1 shot of testosterone on August 5th. As you recall, the fight with Silva took place on August 7th. Sonnen’s urine sample was taken to the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory on August 10th for testing.

Sonnen will be represented by attorney Howard Jacobs.  He is a specialist in the field of drug testing and has represented the likes of cyclist Floyd Landis, Olympian Marion Jones and MMA fighters Sean Sherk and Antonio Silva.

Zach Arnold of Fight Opinion provides us with food for thought:

What I think will be most interesting about Thursday’s meeting is not what the outcome of Chael Sonnen’s suspension will be but rather if the current debate on PED usage in MMA somehow gets advanced (if there are new defenses being used or new techniques revealed publicly that were once kept in the shadows). I have low expectations about Thursday’s appeals hearing, but if the hearings are going to serve any purpose then I think we may hear some explanations that could progress the media debate as to what is happening in the business for PED usage.

If Sonnen is the main event for Thursday’s hearing, Josh Barnett is the co-main event as he will appear before the CSAC seeking a reinstatement of his license. Barnett was signed by Strikeforce but has yet to fight for the organization.

Payout Perspective:

With the debunking of the TRT defense, it will be interesting to see what theories Sonnen will have about his use of PEDs. The Fight Lawyer had some interesting back and forth on twitter regarding Sonnen’s admission to the CSAC that he used PEDs. One of the more interesting questions that I would like to see come out at the hearing is what was the reasoning for allowing Sonnen to fight even though it was known he would test positive for a banned substance?

We will have more on this after Sonnen’s hearing.

Josh Barnett Signs with Dream

March 2, 2010

Damon Martin of MMAWeekly reports that former UFC heavyweight champion and Pride contender Josh Barnett has signed with Japanese promotion Dream and is looking to return to fighting on March 22nd.

Former UFC, Pride and Affliction fighter, Josh Barnett, has found a new home in Japan as the heavyweight stand-out has signed with Dream and will likely make his promotional debut at their March 22 show later this month.


The signing was confirmed by sources close to the situation to MMAWeekly.com late Monday evening, and the promotion is expected to announce Barnett’s addition in the coming days.

Payout Perspective:

We’ve seen a lot of fighter movement in the heavyweight division lately; talent is being scooped up left, right, and center as seemingly more and more players enter the market. It’s surprising in a way, because the UFC has and continues to be so dominant, while its competition has struggled in places. Nonetheless, with Barnett, Arlovski, and even the likes of Konrad off the market, additional heavyweight talent is at a premium.

Barnett failed to show for his latest hearing with the California State Athletic Commission on February 22nd, which was scheduled to sort out the issue of his second positive test for steroids. It’s unlikely that any American commission would have granted him license to fight, and therefore Japan was really his only option.

There’s now renewed talk of a match-up against Fedor, but the financial and legal implications of the fight will likely prevent it from happening; that being that Fedor stands to make more money fighting in Strikeforce under a co-promotional agreement, while Barnett cannot fight in US because of his test. The more likely scenario, if there’s to be a super fight at all, is that we see Barnett face Overeem in a Dream-promoted contest later this year.

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