“The inhaler was not pre-approved by the commission for use during the fight in accordance with the Commission’s regulations,” Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC) spokesperson Carolyn Assa wrote in an email to MMA Fighting. “Therefore, the commission overturned the win and declared the bout no contest.”
The commission declined additional comment on Hardy’s case.
Hardy’s inhaler does not appear to be explicitly outlawed by the commission’s rules. For purposes of anti-doping, the commission recognizes the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prohibited list. The list allows the type of inhaler Hardy said he used as long as it stays below a certain dose within a specified timeframe.
But MSAC does outlaw extra items into the cage without prior approval. Per its rule on corners and seconds, a corner person is “only” allowed to bring into the ring/cage a water bottle, bucket with ice, commission-approved anti-coagulant, adhesive tape, gauze, scissors and one extra mouthpiece.
“Any other equipment would need to be approved by the commission ahead of time through a variance,” states 523 CMR 12.07.
A “variance” is a request that allows the MSAC to deviate from its rules “for any cause deemed sufficient” by the commission. It must must be submitted in writing on a commission-approved form and “must specify the regulation for which the applicant is asking for relief.”
Hardy manager Abe Kawa did not immediately respond to a question asking whether the fighter had requested a variance from the commission. UFC president Dana White initially told Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole the inhaler had been approved by the commission. But at the post-fight press conference, he criticized the fighter and his corner/coach Din Thomas for bringing the inhaler in the first place. White implied the commission’s lack of experience in big events was partly to blame.
“I have no clue what anybody who was involved in that situation was thinking,” White said.
Thomas declined comment on the incident when contacted by MMA Fighting.
Veteran MMA official and current Bellator commentator John McCarthy pointed to one individual’s actions when assessing responsibility for the entire controversy. He said the commission official who appeared to approve—or at least not stop—Hardy from using his inhaler should have sought guidance before allowing the fight to continue.
“Did Greg Hardy try to cheat? No,” McCarthy said. “He’s asking in front of everyone, ‘Can I use this?’ So everything that you’re looking at, no matter what, goes down to one person. It was that inspector who allowed him to do that. That inspector did not know the rules, and that inspector created the entire situation. All he needed to say is, ‘I don’t know. Don’t do that. Let me find out.’”
In an earlier message to MMA Fighting, Kawa indicated his team plans to appeal the commission’s no-contest ruling.