California Commission Approves Therapeutic Use Amendment for Combat Sports Athletes


The California State Athletic Commission on Monday approved an amendment to the California Code of Regulations that would standardize a process for combat sports athletes to apply for therapeutic use exemptions in the state.

The news was first reported by SI.com, and Sherdog.com confirmed the report Wednesday with a CSAC official. The amendment would create a new section (303.1) in the California Code of Regulations (CCR) allowing individuals to apply for therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) when taking drugs to maintain their health, as diagnosed by a licensed physician.

Though approved by the CSAC, the amendment must still be passed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the State Office of Administrative Law before it can become regulation.

TUEs have been a hot topic of discussion in the MMA community, as several athletes have had drug tests flagged by state athletic commissions in the recent past, including top UFC talents Chael Sonnen, Alistair Overeem and Nick Diaz. Sonnen’s case, now settled, centered on the fighter’s inflated testosterone to epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 16.9-to-1. He was suspended and fined by the CSAC, though the fighter pursued an appeal based on testosterone replacement therapy that saw his suspension first reduced and then reinstated. Sonnen’s suspension in California expired this past June, and the fighter has competed twice since -- once in Texas and once in Illinois.

Like Sonnen, Overeem also tested positive for an elevated T/E ratio (14-to-1). The Dutchman submitted to a random drug test in Nevada, and the former Strikeforce champion’s case is still ongoing. He is expected to appear before the Nevada Athletic Commission on April 24 to discuss acquiring a fight license in the state. “The Demolition Man” is currently still booked to challenge Junior dos Santos for the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 146 on May 26 in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, Diaz’s case is also still pending. After testing positive for marijuana metabolites after falling in a contentious unanimous decision to Carlos Condit at UFC 143 this past February, Diaz -- a medical marijuana patient in California -- was temporarily suspended by the NSAC pending a disciplinary hearing. Diaz was previously flagged by the NSAC after a 2007 clash with Takanori Gomi.

Also noteworthy from Monday’s meeting: the CSAC approved an amendment to Section 303 of the CCR that will allow combatants to use two asthma medications, salbutamol and salmeterol, after modifications were made to the amendment’s language.

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