“…it’s left me as impotent as a Nevada [Athletic] Commissioner.” – C. Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons
You ain’t kidding, Monty.
In a shameful display of tragic comedy, the Nevada State Athletic Commission gave Alistair Overeem “a slap on his testosterone-deficient wrist” (thanks to @CrooklynMMA for that one) and awarded him a nice vacation over the summer before being allowed to come back and fight in the state at the UFC’s traditional end of year card. Overeem will not be tested during his suspension, which will leave him free to load up on prohibited substances in anticipation of his likely year-end fight.
The hearing was a kangaroo court of the highest magnitude, which alternated between the NSAC verbally fellating Overeem and pinning the blame on Overeem’s doctor and star witness, the inimitable Dr. Nick Riviera … I mean Dr. Hector Molina.
Overeem’s defence was built upon the notion that he took testosterone injections unknowingly, under the care of Dr. Molina. Molina’s testimony was highlighted by his admission that he did indeed add testosterone to what was supposed to be an anti-inflammatory injection to treat pain. The doctor denied that the amount would be enough to cause the spike in the test results, but waffled continuously on whether or not he told Overeem that there was indeed a banned substance in the injection.
Overeem’s attorney turned over the vial that contained the mixture over to the commission. Unlike any prescription label I’ve ever seen, the label did not contain the name of the doctor, his clinic on it or the name of the drugs on it, instead just being a plain white label containing the words “anti-inflammatory mixture”. It looked like a prop from a bad movie, which ironically meant it fit in perfectly at the day’s events.
Dr. Molina was apparently introduced to Overeem through former fighter Tra Telligman in Texas, a state notorious for it’s lax athletic commission and attitude towards drug testing. Molina has a “Men’s Performance Enhancement Clinic” located in Irving, and also has a checkered legal past. He has a previous arrest for domestic assault and was fined and sanctioned by the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners in 2004 for prescribing controlled substances and dangerous drugs over the internet. No doubt the kind of fine, upstanding citizen who would never help someone knowingly cheat.
What’s more troubling then Molina’s past was how willing the NSAC was to accept Overeem’s “I don’t know any better, blame the doctor” defence. The commission called Overeem’s presentation “superlative” and Commissioner Skip Avansino admitted he didn’t want to deny Overeem a license but the result of the test was too much to ignore. The commission was practically begging Overeem to come back to the state and fight when his sentence is up, which confirmed to the outside world that the only thing the NSAC is genuinely concerned about is protecting their revenue streams.
When Mo Lawal admitted he made a mistake to the NSAC and should have known what he was putting in his system, he was suspended for one year. When the more popular and more marketable Overeem did a “who me?” act, he was given nine months. This kind of double-standard is troubling to say the least and proves the NSAC should enact reforms that provide clear-cut and standardized penalties for PED test failures. No more claims of ignorance or therapeutic use exemptions. The time has come for a simple “you fail, you’re out” scenario.
With the NSAC kangaroo court out of the way, it falls in the lap of Dana White and Lorenzo Ferttita to meter out acceptable punishment. Will they take action or hide behind the NSAC’s ruling? Dana White took a 180 from his usual comments on the subject at this weekend’s UFC 146 post-fight press conference, saying “”Believe me when I tell you, we are going to f—— come down on [PED’s], we are going to do it.” White also mentioned World Anti-Doping Agency testing as a possible answer.
We’ll have to see if White will back up his words, otherwise the conditions and precedents have been set for a PED scandal that could rock MMA as badly as it did Major League Baseball. And no one, from Dana, to the fighters, to the fans wants that.
Related article: NSAC denies Overeem fight license, may re-apply in 9 months