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UFC details appeals process in doping violations in letter to its athletes

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The UFC sent a letter this week to all contracted fighters regarding new arbitration rules regarding disputes of the company's anti-doping policy, as administered by USADA (United State Anti-Doping Agency)

Arbitration is the exclusive means of appeal for challenging any USADA ruling regarding the drug testing policy as well as violations. Requests for arbitration must be filed within ten calendar days of any notice of a violation, breach, complaint or dispute under the policy that has come to the attention of the fighter.

USADA will then provide the fighter with an applicant request for an arbitration form. The fee for arbitration will be $2,700, and a failure to submit the notice and the filing fee within ten days will result in a forfeiture of appealing the USADA decision. However, a fighter does have the right to request a waiver or a reduction of the filing fee based on financial hardship.

The arbitration panel will be determined by McLaren Global Sports Solutions, Inc., of Toronto, and Chief Arbitrator Richard McLaren, who will establish a list of arbitrators to choose from. McLaren Global Sports Solutions

McLaren has worked with USADA and WADA (The World Anti-Doping Agency) as well as the Canadian Football League and the International Olympic Committee, as well as past work with the UFC. McLaren headed a probe into the widespread doping of the Russian Olympic team in the 2014 winter games, and was also a key part of the investigation into doping by the Russian track team and issued the ruling on the claims, believing them to be credible.

McLaren will appoint either a single arbitrator to hear the case, or if either the fighter or USADA request it, a panel of three arbitrators from the McLaren list, to hear the case. At that point, the decision would be based on a majority vote of the arbitrators.

The hearings will take place within 90 days of the appointment of the arbitrator, and will either take place in person in Denver, Colo., or by telephone or video conference. A delay past the 90 days can take place based on an agreement of the fighter and USADA, or claiming an exceptional circumstance by one side and agreed to be the arbitrator.

Either party can request that the Chief Arbitrator, or another arbitrator, conduct a mediation conference with both sides and give the parties their initial assessment of the merits of the case.

Fighters will have to pay for any counsel or interpreter necessary and all arbitration hearings will be in English. The UFC will pay for the arbitrator's compensation and any expenses. However, any fees charged by the arbitrator based on postponing a hearing will be charged to the side requesting the postponement.

The arbitrator has the right to rule on the admissibility of evidence, and adherence to formal rules of evidence is not necessary. Witnesses can provide testimony under oath. Either party can request a stenographic record of the hearing provided the request is made 15 days in advance of the hearing.

The arbitrator will make a decision, along with written reasoning of he decision, within 30 days of the end of the hearing. The arbitration would be considered confidential unless both sides and the arbitrator or arbitrators make an agreement on a waiver.