Keith Kizer on cannabis and controversial judging

Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, is one of the most powerful men in combat sports. The NSAC is seen…

By: Nate Wilcox | 10 years ago
Keith Kizer on cannabis and controversial judging
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, is one of the most powerful men in combat sports. The NSAC is seen as the premier AC in the U.S. and oversees Las Vegas, the combat sports capital of the world.

Kizer spoke to Jack Brown about some of the bigger controversies of the day. Here’s what he had to say about the NSAC’s recent decision to raise the threshold for cannabis levels in fighter urine:

However, even at 50, there could be a situation where the detection time could be up to a month from when the drug was last inhaled. That is different from the other drugs that we test for like cocaine, alcohol, or opiates, where the detection time was more or less from a few hours to a few days. So it was always kind of out-of-whack with the other in-competition banned drugs. It was something not just related to sports. It was difficult with criminal matters or other regulatory matters too. It created almost a zero tolerance policy even though it was not supposed to be banned out-of-competition.

So the question was, “What is the number? If it’s not 50, how do we put it in line with the other drugs of abuse?” We wanted the detection time to be more like 3 to 5 days rather than 20 to 30 days. The experts were all basically saying that there is no magic number for that. Going from 15 to 50 was the magic number for getting rid of any kind of argument about passive inhalation, but there is no number, no matter where you are at, for what we were looking for. So the drug experts and the people who set these policies, including WADA, thought that they better be safe than sorry, and had a number that was lower. It’s not like the drug now has different effects on human beings than it did ten years ago, but it got to the point where we formed this panel at the end of last year. One of their missions was to find out where this number should be. We knew it was higher than 50, but how much higher, we didn’t know. It might be a little higher or a lot higher. So they were looking at that issue basically at the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. I think then, sometime in the spring of this year, WADA came out and, unbeknownst to us, they were looking at the issue as well and for similar reasons, I believe. They came out with the number 150. We actually talked a lot about how we understood that there was no magic number and wondering how they came to that number. They were very forthright. They said, “We came to that number for political reasons.” There was no scientific basis behind it. The other number was lower than it should have been because of the “better safe than sorry,” conservative approach, and just because of the nature of the drug and the rap that it had gotten over the years, unfairly in my mind.

He also talked about controversies about fight judging especially relevant in the wake of the self-imposed leave of absence taken by judge C.J. Ross after she implausibly scored Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez as a tie:

One of the things that I always find kind of interesting is that when there is a controversial decision, and the judges may disagree on that decision, it happens quite often that the mainstream press in the sport are pretty much in disagreement too. It seems that they ignore the fact that they disagreed on the rounds, but they think that the fact that the judges disagreed on the rounds must mean that something is wrong with the judges or the scoring system, etcetera. It could just be that there were some close rounds, and depending on how you scored them, it definitely affected who you had winning the fight or if you had a draw or something along those lines. That comes into play a lot.

This is a sport where not only is it subjective, but it’s round by round. Especially in a twelve round fight in boxing there could be a situation where, as happened in the Mayweather-Alvarez fight, if you have the fight even on the scorecard, it does not mean that the judge felt that the fighters were dead even in the ring in their performances against one another. You could have a situation where a fighter, in the rounds he won, he won pretty big, though they weren’t to the level of 10-8s. And the rounds he lost were very close, but they weren’t to the level of 10-10. I’m not saying that’s exactly what happened with Mayweather-Alvarez, but that’s what has happened in the past.

In fact, one of the reporters that I talked to had Mayweather-Cotto a 114-114 draw for that very reason. The rounds he gave to Mayweather, he gave easily, but the rounds he gave to Cotto, he gave very closely. He had it 114-114 for that fight, but even he admits that Mayweather was definitely the better fighter over Cotto. That happens and that’s the nature of it.

Read the whole interview, there’s a lot more to it.

More from Bloody Elbow:

Share this story

About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

More from the author

Recent Stories