Nevada Athletic Commission's drug tests remain punchless


Keith Kizer has read the tweets, heard the accusations, defended his Nevada Athletic Commission against all opinions about its drug testing program. He is an executive director who must have nightmares about testosterone levels.

Which is why he needs to convince his peers to catch up with the times.

Testosterone again has taken center stage now that Ryan Braun found his loophole to that 20:1 ratio. He is on the field with the Milwaukee Brewers and looking nothing like his powerful self of last year's Most Valuable Season.

(Insert laughter here.)

Alistair Overeem of the Ultimate Fighting Championship tested positive for testosterone at a 14:1 level, putting into serious doubt if he will face heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 146 on May 26 at the MGM Grand Garden.

Overeem is expected to address the commission this month to explain why he had, oh, 13 times the amount of testosterone in his system than the average person. More on his chances later. You can guess which way I'm leaning.

The commission allows for boxers and mixed martial arts fighters to have a 6:1 ratio, which has for some time had people such as former BALCO guru Victor Conte ripping Kizer on Twitter for what Conte believes is a joke of a permitted level, given how cheating athletes have become experts in micro-dosing.

"It makes it easier to cheat, to take small amounts at a time and still have up to twice as much testosterone in your body and still be under the radar," Conte said last week. "My opinion is that Overeem is as guilty as a $3 bill.

"I think the time is right for positive change. It has been the wild, wild West out there in boxing and MMA for a while now. Will you ever be able to make it foolproof? No. Is it ever going to be perfect? No. But with changes that would be cost effective, you can have a significant reduction in usage."

His is a long list of suggestions, but two major ones are to lower the allowable level for all fighters to a 4:1 ratio and to spend extra money on Carbon Isotope Ratio testing, of which results are indisputable for synthetic versus natural testosterone. A typical panel costs $200 to run. A CIR test is in the $400 range.

Kizer's reasoning behind 6:1: He believes it allows for fewer false-positive results, fewer times a clean fighter might be deemed a cheating one.

I suppose there is merit to it. I'm just not sure how much.

Once the World Anti-Doping Agency went to a 4:1 ratio, so too should have any commission or sport that wanted to be taken seriously for drug testing. Some followed WADA's lead; others didn't.

Strengthening your program should trump any concern over a clean fighter's ratio coming back too high, because decisions of this magnitude should be based on the greater good and not the select few.

"There are athletes out there with a natural level of 5:1," Kizer said. "Any standard is open to debate. Nobody is perfect. WADA itself was at 6:1 up to (2006). You want to catch the guilty guys but not the innocent guys. You want to make it fair. One thing I don't want is a bunch of false-positives. That's not good for anyone."

It has been reported that Overeem's defense of 14:1 will be testosterone replacement therapy, despite the fact he hasn't requested an exemption for such treatment and, over the years, vehemently denied taking any foreign substances to help build muscle.

In other words, if that's the card he is about to play, good luck with that.

You have to know everyone in this cloudy picture has an angle. Kizer needs to defend his commission. Conte reportedly wants the UFC to spend more than $1 million annually on a drug-testing program by an agency he helped launch.

UFC president Dana White wants to continue offering the best fights while, amazingly with a straight face, championing his sport's weak testing program, which doesn't screen blood and lacks any serious level of thoroughness. It's sort of a bad joke, really.

Overeem wants you to believe in fairy tales.

At day's end, the NAC needs to get to 4:1. The potential for false-positives doesn't have the teeth to carry the argument for a 6:1 standard any longer. The commission's program needs to be as foolproof as possible, all the time knowing most fighters will likely always be one or two punches ahead of science.

"Over the next six months, maybe sooner, the commission will look at everything when it comes to its drug-testing regulations," Kizer said. "That will include the 6:1 level."

Suggestion: Look hard. Look very hard.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from noon to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday on "Gridlock," ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.

 

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