The New Jersey Athletic Control Board (NJACB) is standing by their decision to remove middleweight Elvis Mutapcic from his WSOF 5 bout with Jesse Taylor. The middleweight fighter was removed from the bout when NJACB officials spotted prescription pills amongst his corner. The NJACB clarified their position in a statement released late Sunday.
It is always the least pleasing option for a Commission to cancel a contest, especially on fight night. We are very cognizant of the negative effect on the promotion, fighters and our fans. However, our first and foremost concern must always be the health and safety of the competitors and the integrity of the contest.
Simply put, there are substances which are permitted to be in the possession of the fighter and his or her corner; but there are a multitude of substances that are NOT allowed in the corner.
Fighters and corners should be aware of published banned substances lists Fighters are also responsible for what their chosen corners bring into the backstage area. Such may be why some promotions refuse to allow corners to even bring their own water, Vaseline, Gatorade or other items into the venue warm up areas.
This agency recovered substances which were not permissible to be in the corner, and which were never disclosed to the Commission in advance. Several different types of a cache of pills were found all located in one single prescription container.
The prescription bottle was noticed by an Inspector, the Inspector advised Nick Lembo of its presence. Next, Lembo went with the Inspector and Referee Dan Miragliotta to retrieve the bottle. The bottle was obtained, and was brought to cage side physicians. At that point, the corner man was questioned in the presence of three NJSACB representatives. Based on the recovered bottle as well as the conversation with the corner person, this agency was very uncomfortable with moving forward with the scheduled contest.
Again, a fighter and his corner team cannot bring any substances of their choosing into the locker room, especially when not declaring same. The dressing room and backstage area is a non public, controlled area for an obvious purpose. That purpose is to limit the ability to allow an individual to provide an unfair advantage, mitigate later unfair advantage claims, and limit the ability to tamper with substances and equipment.
We have not yet been provided with any independent drug test results, but would be surprised if such testing included all substances on the WADA banned list, and was performed by an accredited lab. From what we have been told by reporters about this independent test, the number and types of substances tested for were minimal at best. Regardless, whether or not the banned substances were ingested, they were not permissible in the locker room area. These items were not allowed to be in the possession of the fighter or his corners. These items were not permissible to be kept without advance disclosure.
Attached is a photo of the undeclared items in the corner’s possession just prior to the contest.
As World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo said in an NBC interview on fight night, there were at least six or more different kinds of pills in the bottle and he put the blame on the incompetence of the corner.
Upon reflection, we are extremely confident in our actions and decisions with regard to this matter.
We would vigorously contest any legal action, and would welcome any contest to our actions which were made in the best interests of fairness, safety and integrity to the contest and the sport.
While Mutapcic both took and posted the results of a drug test following the bout, the commission was keen to point out that the test was not for the full panel of drugs the commission tests for. Mutapcic is not expected to receive a suspension from the commission and will likely see his bout with Taylor rescheduled for later this year.