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ECSC unlawfully suspended Ryan Ford for fighting with broken arm


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It looks like Cody McKenzie isn’t the only fighter Edmonton Combative Sports Commission executive director Pat Reid unlawfully suspended in the past year.

You may recall Reid slapped World Series of Fighting Canada welterweight champion Ryan Ford with a six-month timeout for concealing an arm injury ahead of his WSOF 14 bout with Jake Shields.

At the time Reid said the reason for the suspension was that Ford lied on the medical form he filled out ahead of the bout.

Here’s what Reid told Neil Davidson from the Canadian Press about Ford’s alleged misdeed:

“You can’t lie on a [statutory declaration] in front of a commissioner of oaths and not expect consequences.”

The problem is, the form the ECSC uses is not a declaration; it’s simply a form that fighters sign and date that is witnessed. A declaration has to actually declare something. The current form they use does not.

 

For example this would be a declaration:

I ________________________ declare that I am fit to fight and that I have no injuries to disclose that could prevent me from safely entering into competition.

Fighter signature:________________________________ Date:__________________________

Witness signature:________________________________ Date:__________________________

 

Here’s the signature line of the ECSC medical form:

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There is no contractual requirement for a fighter to reveal any injuries to the ECSC in its governing bylaw or the medical form.

The ECSC requires fighters to submit the following prior to license issuance:

• Blood work  (hepatitis  B, C, HIV and syphilis tests — all within six months of competition)

• cranial ECG or MRI (within two years of competition)

• eye exam (within 12 months of competition)

The commission actually put Ford through a battery of kinesiological dexterity and strength tests as they do all licensed athletes. The tests included ten knuckle push-ups. Most fighters with a similar injury likely would have tapped out there, but Ford gritted through the tests by basically doing one-arm pushups.

Reid tells me he has added a “Ryan Ford test” consisting of 10 pull-ups, to the ECSC’s medical testing protocol and his MMA casebook he is drafting. He is confident there’s very little chance someone with an injury like Ford’s could make it through more than a few repetitions of the pulling exercise.

Having passed all of the fitness and medical tests meant Ford was legally declared fit to fight in the eyes of the ECSC and its medical team. He shouldn’t have been penalized for doing what fighters have been doing as long as the sport has been around — fighting through injury. Especially when there are no rules to say he can’t.

Reid actually forwarded a case similar to Ford’s on to the Alberta Attorney General’s office for review for fraud in 2012. Considering Ford’s case never went any further than the suspension, perhaps it was because the poorly-drafted medical form would never hold up in court as being a statutory declaration.

Ford chose not to appeal the decision at the time as he needed the time off to heal from his injury. In light of the recent improprieties we uncovered that have been committed by the ECSC, he likely would have gotten a more favorable judgment had he opted to take the case to court for a judicial review. Especially when this argument is coupled with Eric Magraken’s revelation that the ECSC’s bylaws state that a license is only good for the day it is issued, meaning the commission didn’t actually have the right to impose a suspension on a fighter who they no longer had a contractual agreement with.

One interesting note: at the time this latest revision of the ECSC medical form was drafted the seven-member commission included three lawyers, including one who was recently called to the bench as a provincial Alberta judge.

 

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