The executive director of the California Athletic Commission, Andy Foster, is a proponent of anti-doping measures. He also supports the UFC anti-doping partner's mission, US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
But after noticing how Jon Jones's most recent case was conducted, he no longer wants USADA involved in trying cases in California.
"I think it's good to have doping controls," Foster told MMAjunkie today. "I think this process was a disaster, and I think we learned from the process. If we continue to do this with the combatants, this is not serving the public interest. "
At a hearing today in Sacramento, California, Foster said the commission made a mistake in postponing to USADA Jones' second anti-doping violation, which resulted from a positive test following UFC 214. He recommended that the commission reinstate the UFC star . license on a temporary basis, paving the way for a rematch with Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232.
In February, the commission revoked Jones' leave, fined him $ 205,000 and ordered community service. But he suspended the suspension that could have been ordinarily ordered, arguing that Jones would be punished in his case competing with USADA, which has the right to sanction the fighters through his partnership with the UFC.
It took another seven months for the anti-doping agency to settle its case with Jones after the two sides went to arbitration. Jones received a 15-month suspension – three months less than the USADA recommended after agreeing to reduce a possible four-year suspension in 30 months in exchange for Jones to provide information on doping violations by other athletes.
In addition, Foster said, Jones had to incur additional financial burdens to settle his case in California, which by state law has exclusive jurisdiction over his punishment. And this was because of the damage to reputation incurred when USADA announced a possible anti-doping violation in accordance with its policy with UFC athletes at the time.
"I just do not think the process is right," Foster said. "I think the law supports my thoughts."
The UFC has since changed its policy to only notify the public in resolving an anti-doping case, a move backed by Foster. But he said there is a bigger problem in having USADA court cases in which he also acted as principal investigator.
"It's not exactly a conflict, but it's a type of conflict," he said. "I'm not saying they do, but … there is a perception of a conflict. They are interested in making sure their science is correct.
"Please understand, I am not saying (they have a conflict of interest). But there is a perception there, and I am saying this: I believe there have been some cases that could have been resolved more quickly and cheaply and that they obtained the same results instead of going through this long and arduous process. "
Moving forward, Foster said the commission is likely to conduct anti-doping cases involving UFC athletes, as had previously been done, with the commission announcing a positive, a punishment (if any) and a notice of entitlement to an appeal.
About how this changes the fate of a UFC athlete with USADA suspensions now recognized in an administrative database of the Association of Boxing Commissions that tracks disciplinary issues, Foster, who works on a number of ABC committees, has postponed that issue for another time.
"The main thing is that we will not give the executive discretion over the livelihood of the combatants to a third-party drug testing company that has a potential – not telling their true conflict," he said.
On a phone call Monday, Foster reported his concerns to USADA on a "nice" talk. He said the anti-doping agency plans to hold a meeting with executive directors of all state sports committees with which it does business to address issues that have emerged in its program.
Meanwhile, Jones is considering whether or not to allow another doping control agency – the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency, led by former physician Margaret Goodman – to test it at UFC 232. Unlike USADA, only VADA directs the test results for the commission, which then decides the appropriate action to be taken.
If he agrees to participate, the commission will reimburse Jones for $ 18,000 to $ 20,000 that will cost between eight and ten tests. CSAC commissioner Martha Shen-Urquidez suggested additional tests and Jones' return, indicating that her participation would silence her critics.
"In my humble opinion – at this point I am giving my humble opinion – it is best if Mr. Jones voluntarily decides to do this and is not obliged to do so," said CSAC President John Carvelli to Jones today during the hearing . "We are really waiting for you to work on it and do it for your own good. I think Commissioner Martha has made it clear to you what is at stake for you here."
For Foster, however, it's more than just what's at stake for Jones. From now on, the only involvement he wants from USADA is as a collector – send him the results and let the commission do it from there.
For more information on UFC 232, check out the Rumors section of the UFC on the site.