California is poised to join Nevada in requiring fighters who previously tested positive for drugs to prove they are clean before being allowed to fight again.
The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) is working on this and other changes to regulations designed to stem the use of performance-enhancing and recreational drugs in combative sports. The proposed change to current rules in California would require a clean drug test for licensure or renewal of a license when an athlete has "previously tested positive for a prohibited substance in any commission state." This clean-test stipulation comes with no expiration date.
To cite a real-world example, this proposed rule change means that if former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk is to fight again in California, whether it's next month or 10 years from now, he will be required to pass a drug test before he's cleared to compete. This is similar to a rule on the books in Nevada, as Sherk was required to pass a drug test prior to his bout with BJ Penn last month at UFC 84.
"This is to assure us that they are safe to be placed into a competitive environment again and prevent repeat test failures," Bill Douglas, acting assistant executive officer with the CSAC, told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "It will only apply if they have had a previously verified test failure."
The proposed rule is working its way through the bureaucratic process in California. That includes a public-comment period, which closed last month, and reviews by a litany of state agencies. Douglas is confident that the rule will pass and be signed into law by the middle of July. If that timing holds, Douglas anticipates the rule would take effect approximately 30 days after being signed to give promoters ample notice of the change.
Few, if any, other states outside of Nevada require this clean test for fighters who have previously tested positive for drugs, according to Douglas.
Another rule change currently under review would permit the commission to overturn a victory when a fighter has won his or her fight and subsequently tested positive for a banned substance. The fight would be declared a no-contest. Currently, victories by fighters who fail a drug test stand.
Following this round of rule revisions, random testing is next on the CSAC agenda.
"One of the things that were also hoping to address in the future with a rules package -- more than likely the very next one I'll be working on -- is out-of-competition testing," said Douglas. "That's currently being done in Nevada, and California is hoping to do the same thing. We're not looking to do this a week or two before a fight. We want to be able to do it whenever we want. So if someone fights and then six months into their training, we can call them up with their date and time (for testing)."