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Ohio Athletic Commission to sanction 23 fighters, promoter after investigation into blood work falsification

Bernie Profato
Bernie Profato, Ohio Athletic Commission
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

An investigation by the Ohio Athletic Commission (OAC) revealed widespread blood work falsification in the state — and now those involved in the scandal are facing sanctions.

More than 20 fighters licensed by the commission were found to have falsified blood test records they submitted as part of their medical requirements to fight, per documents obtained Tuesday from the OAC by MMA Fighting though a public records request. The news was first reported last week by Bluegrass MMA.

The commission has a signed affidavit admitting guilt by Gary Young, who claims he was the lead — and sole — conspirator in the scheme, per the documents. Young, who is not a commission licensee but acting as a defacto matchmaker, used templates to make it seem like the blood work records were legitimate, which have been obtained by the commission.

Young, the 23 fighters (including two pro combatants) who submitted false records, and the promoter of the event in which most of the false records were submitted, Joe Bridenbaugh, are facing sanctions from the Ohio commission. Young said in the affidavit that Bridenbaugh, nor any other promoter, had knowledge of the scam, per documents. Bridenbaugh will go before the Ohio commission in a hearing Dec. 12, according to OAC executive director Bernie Profato.

Bridenbaugh did not return a request for comment from MMA Fighting on Tuesday.

In the affidavit, Young said he told the fighters they would not have to worry about getting blood tests done to meet the pre-fight requirements, per OAC documents. He said he would accept an indefinite suspension and any other sanction deemed fit by the commission.

All 23 fighters had their blood tested following the investigation, per documents, and all showed no signs of infectious blood disorders. Profato said he will seek a lifetime ban in Ohio for those fighters, though he won’t ask for Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) reciprocity after a suspension length to be determined.

“Their careers are done as far as we’re concerned,” Profato said.

No criminal charges have been filed and won’t be unless Young’s sworn affidavit is found to have “misled” the commission, Profato said. Profato added that the investigation will remain open.

The scandal has resulted in the OAC changing its policy on blood work. Now, all future blood tests have to be submitted by a laboratory or doctor’s office and the commission will contact said organization to verify the legitimacy of the tests.

Profato said the scheme was first weeded out by OAC executive secretary Judy McCarty and he and the commission utilized the help of Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp in the course of the investigation.

In 2011, the OAC indefinitely suspended four fighters in a similar, blood-work falsifying scam.

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