MMA drug testing must be made a higher priority
(REUTERS FILE PHOTO)
With B.C. Athletic Commissioner Dave Maedel overseeing the local MMA scene, things were supposed to improve. In some ways they have, but over the last year or so there is still a lot more work that needs to be done.
After the World Series of Fighting Canada put on a show in Vancouver back in December of last year, the fight organization said the commissioner’s office did not conduct drug testing.
According to Maedel, testing is only done on a “random basis” and didn’t provide any further information.
This is unfortunate for the sport on a local level. Too many young athletes are being tempted to use performance-enhancing drugs in order to succeed in the professional ranks.
The UFC will be in Vancouver in June and with B.C.’s “random” testing policy, the UFC itself will the ones doing the testing. However, to stop PED use in Canada there needs to be a concerted effort to stop the cycle at an earlier age in a fighter’s young career.
Another issue is how Maedel’s office oversees amateur fights. In the past, the only major difference in ruling between the amateur and professional bout was no elbows to the head of a grounded opponent and no knees to the head while standing. There was no real reason to change the rules.
Now the amateur ranks have been divided into novice and advanced levels. If a fighter is a novice (which means up to three fights) he or she is not allowed to throw punches to the head of a grounded opponent. As a result, many of those fights end up going to decision because once the fight goes to the ground fighters are limited in what they can do. A lot of times, a fighter uses punches to open things up to secure a submission. This does not prepare a fighter for the realities of mixed martial arts.
The other issues I have heard from promoters and fighters is the criminal record checks the commissioner does on fighters and their corners. If a fighter has something in his past, no matter how long ago, he or she is not allowed to fight. This is the only Canadian commission that does this and, frankly, it’s absurd. A lot of times it’s fighting that takes a lot of these kids out a bad situation and creates something more positive in their lives. So now they can’t fight because they made mistakes in the past?
There is room for improvement in how the fight game is regulated in this province and I will be reaching out to Maedel to see if there is an appetite for change.