Let’s hope bottom line doesn’t influence decisions on Alvarez, McGregor

Updated April 7, 2018 - 6:50 pm

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is an international quasi-judicial body established to settle disputes related to sport through arbitration. Its headquarters are in Switzerland.

Boxing and mixed martial arts sure could use a little help from such an unbiased entity right now.

I understand that it’s hoping against hope to the level of thinking Hodor really wasn’t killed in Season 6 of “Game Of Thrones,” the idea that either would allow those not personally involved with their respective worlds to ever decide on disciplinary matters involving fighters.

But it would erase all opinions such rulings aren’t often influenced by the bottom line.

The cases of “Canelo” Alvarez and Conor McGregor connect in a way that those who will ultimately decide their fates are well aware of the financial jackpots both represent, two of the biggest moneymakers on the planet for those who employ them and, in turn, cities where their events take place.

In the case of Alvarez, that the Nevada Athletic Commission filed a complaint against him in the wake of the boxer failing two tests for the banned performance-enhancing substance Clenbuterol was the right decision.

It was also just a start.

It led to Alvarez withdrawing from his rematch against Gennady Golovkin on May 5 at T-Mobile Arena. And yet if the temporary suspension against Alvarez isn’t upheld for a year and instead reduced in half, the idea those who regulate the sport in Nevada want to ensure such an economic bonanza of a fight occurs in 2018 or that they fear it might ultimately move elsewhere becomes a popular judgment.

Perception is reality, and if Alvarez is allowed to fight in Las Vegas this year, the commission would have failed greatly.

Alvarez cheated. Whether knowingly or not, whether it was at the hands of a Clenbuterol cycle or eating contaminated meat, he was caught. He understood the responsibility for anything found in this system was his.

The fact those at Golden Boy Promotions say their fighter passed more than 90 tests in and out of competition means nothing. Marion Jones looked federal agents in the eye and swore she was clean for passing 160 drug tests. She was juiced to the gills. Lance Armstrong told the world he passed more than 500. Juiced also.

Once you fail a test, never mind two, those 90 are rendered meaningless, and whatever testimony Alvarez and his team offer at a hearing with the commission this month, whatever receipts for meat or witnesses they might provide who would swear they either served him or watched him ingest it, is just as pointless.

It doesn’t matter that he has cooperated since testing positive or that his samples have been clean. If the commission reduces the suspension, just stop drug testing altogether. Just give up the hoax.

The transgressions of McGregor are completely different — the UFC star was charged with three counts of assault and one of criminal mischief for an incident after a media event ahead of UFC 223 in Brooklyn, New York — but the premise for potential discipline isn’t.

It’s fairly obvious McGregor broke almost every stipulation within the UFC’s Code of Conduct for his thuglike actions, and other fighters have been immediately cut for far less serious acts. But he, like Alvarez, is the golden goose of the company.

Whether it’s right or not for the UFC to allow the legal system to determine McGregor’s long-term fate before weighing in with its own actions is debatable — the NFL would actually serve itself well to pause at such times — but at some point, we will see if a popular belief is true that those with the power to discipline McGregor have always either chosen not to or gone soft on him because of his earning power.

In this sense, the commission’s decision in 2017 to reduce a fine and community service hours against McGregor for a bottle-throwing incident at a UFC 202 news conference remains one of the all-time jokes of such privileged treatment to a star fighter, in part for fear of losing future fights involving him.

So now we can sit and wait and watch.

How will the cases of Canelo Alvarez and Conor McGregor conclude in terms of discipline?

What messages will the commission and UFC ultimately send?

Who really is in charge?

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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