On Saturday night in Atlantic City, one of the weirder situations in MMA in recent history took place. Just minutes before Elvis Mutapcic was set to head to the cage to battle with in the semi-finals of World Series of Fighting's middleweight tournament, he was inexplicably removed from the bout by the the New Jersey State Athletic Commission. Mutapcic said afterwards that he wasn't sure what the deal was, but he heard that someone saw him taking a pill, which he vigorously denied. He also said he would get his own independent drug test done to submit to the commission.
Due to all the confusion surrounding the issue, NJSAC took the time to issue a press release regarding the issue. Here is their explanation of the removal:
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.
They also included a photo of the contents of the bottle,which appeared to contain a few different types of pills. Mutapcic has not responded to the release as of yet.