British Columbia’s Athletic Commission Coming Into Focus


British ColumbiaAt the end of the month, BC’s Athletic Commissioner Act will be in force.  Once in force, all “professional” MMA and Boxing Events in BC will be regulated by the provincial commission with Vancouver and other local governments being given the ability to outlaw the sport with the passing of local bylaws.

BC’s First Athletic Commissioner has not yet been announced but it is rumored that one has been appointed.

The long-awaited regulations have now been passed and can be found here with an ancillary regulation here.

Below are some of the highlights:

  • As expected, BC has adopted the Mixed Martial Arts Unified Rules of Conduct NJAC 13:46-24A
  • Any events approved by local commissions before May 30 are still validly regulated and can take place under the authority and supervision of the local commissions.
  • As of May 30th local commissions are stripped of their powers
  • Promoter’s must apply for an event permit at least 60 days ahead of a scheduled event
  • Event Permit Holders must pay the Commissioner 5% of the event’s gross gate receipts
  • Promoter’s must have at least $5,000,000 in Third Party Liability Coverage
  • At least 21 days before any scheduled event a promoter must provide the commissioner a performance bond of $25,000
  • At least 14 days before an event, contestants must provide the commissioner with an ophthalmologist’s or optometrist’s report; a physician’s report; negative test results for HIV, hepatitis B and C and syphilis with further requirements if the contestant is over age 35.  Additionally, female contestants must submit a negative pregnancy test.
  • Contestants in all matches (except for championship matches) are given a one pound weight allowance
  • If a contestant misses weight by less that 3% they are given an additional hour to make weight
  • If a contestant is 3% or more over weight they cannot compete unless specifically permitted by the commissioner

Lastly, the office of the Athletic Commissioner released a Frequently Asked Questions document.  This document notes that amateur sporting events will be overseen by “provincial sport organizations“.  It is noteworthy that there is no organization with the legislative authority to govern amateur MMA.  Although organizations such as the Mixed Martial Arts Association of BC offer to regulate amateur MMA contests, their use is not mandated by statute.  Once Bill S-209 is passed it is noteworthy that amateur MMA will be illegal by default unless the Province addresses this legislative gap.  With BC’s election out of the way now is a good time for those involved in BC’s MMA and combat sports community to approach BC’s Minister of Sport and work with him to address this legal oversight.

Erik Magraken is a personal injury litigator and Partner with the British Columbia law-firm MacIsaac & Company. The article was re-printed with permission from his Canadian MMA Law Blog.

22 Responses to “ British Columbia’s Athletic Commission Coming Into Focus ”

  1. I hear the announcement is coming on Monday with who the head of the new commission is.

    I do know it’s a government employee with no combat experience, or ever part of any sports for that matter.

    Could be interesting.

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  2. Don't Call Me Leon says:

    @ MAD

    They almost always never have any background in combat sports!

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  3. Donald Duck says:

    LMAO! Leon, I think it is a prerequisite for any MMA commission job that the person doing the work knows next to f*cking nothing about the sport they’re regulating. Why buck tradition?


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  4. ccanadx says:

    It looks like the promoter’s pockets are being picked by a govt that needs $ so look for lots of small guys going out of biz.
    1. $5m insurance
    2. $25k bond, 21 days out (i.e. all the cash on hand gone BEFORE the event)
    3. lots of $$ med tests (do hockey players get syphilis tests? or women get pregnacy tests? (12 fighters x $300 in tests = $3600
    4. 5% of Gross receipts say 1000 tickets at $60 x 5% =$3000
    5. very tight time lines to get replacement if someone is injured before fight.(night mare for match making)

    No this will kill the sport — but that’s the idea of course. Its a sad day for mma– only ufc will qualify- sent all the $$ state side.
    6. BC’s venue rents are 3 times Alberta’s
    7. Police present at $100/hour per cop
    all this to pay for the services of a clerk 1 to check off the govt revenue for zero services. Sorry folks but any show has to think seriously about what happens now. Wonder how this compares to other sports? Wonders if mma will go back to the dark days of staging on totally unsafe Indian reserves with a box of bandages from Walmart– this is crazy.

    One wonders if this govt has any brains for how a business works– oh well NDP would have been worse.

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  5. Some of the clauses to promote in BC are similar to Ontario and are going to make it tough for anybody to make any money in the province.

    There are also big gaps in the regulation regarding Amateur MMA, and regional commissions. (May 24th when S209) should be voted in, this will all change though.

    I like the direction of a provincial commission, but definately some work to do though.

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  6. I’m not naive that commissioners usually have no experience in the sport, i’m just waiting for the day one realizes what they need to do from the mistakes of others in this regard.

    It’s only a matter of time until we get the proper people in place to run a commission.

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  7. Don't Call Me Leon says:

    Too bad Bill Mahood is in Alberta now, he could’ve been a realistic candidate to run the BCAC!

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  8. AB India says:

    Hopefully Pat Reid isn’t a candidate

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  9. HA, it’s not Pat Reid. That I know.

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  10. Roderick says:


    Do you know if any commissions have been formed pursuant to the Indian Act in BC?

    If so, do you anticipate there being argument if this provincial legislation would apply to an event held on Indian land, duly sanctioned by a band?

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  11. Roderick, thanks for your question.

    The BC Commission is intended to be the only Athletic Commission to sanction ‘professional’ MMA.

    The Commissions FAQ addresses this point as follows:

    Yes, the Athletic Commissioner Act and Regulations apply on both Treaty First Nations
    land and First Nations reserves. The new regulatory system is province-wide.

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  12. Roderick says:

    Oh yes, I see that now.

    Especially in light of the Idle No More Movement -it will be interesting to see if any Indian bands take the position that the province has no jurisdiction to enforce this law on Indian land, especially when the Indian Act provides the council of a band to make by-laws in regard to the control or prohibition of public games, sports, races, athletic contests and other amusements or even if there is an inherent aboriginal right to prizefight.

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  13. PUCK says:

    I think all and all regulation is a great thing but with all the new money on hand set in place you will see the smaller shows fade away quick. It will only help the big shows get better talent and other guys will start having problem finding fights as all the cards will be full. I’m not saying that all these “small shows are so good” but they do give fighters a stage. But, I hope everything works out OK?

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  14. PUCK, exactly, this is very similar to Ontario where Bellator and UFC are the only promotions who could profit with these regulations.

    They need to work on incorporating amateur MMA sanctioning through the same body also!

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  15. Roderick: There was an event scheduled to be on the OCN reserve in Manitoba a few months ago, and the RCMP shut it down.

    That’s the first instance i’ve heard of them getting involved and stopping a show in Canada.

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  16. Roderick says:


    I have not heard of any Commissions being formed pursuant to the Indian Act – River Cree used to be running shows (they may still be for all I know), but there wasn’t much noise made because they were being run safely.

    There are several tribal commissions in the states that are members of the ABC, I think that we will see tribal commissions in Canada being formed pursuant to the Indian Act going forward. As long as they are run safely, I personally don’t see a problem.

    If they are not run safely, then the only recourse is for other commissions to ‘blacklist’ people that fight on those cards.

    But hey, if you are an average MMA fighter from BC that enjoys the sport, has no dreams of ever trying to make it big, and it looks like the only cards you are going to get on, are on the reserve, because no small time promotions can afford to put on event, you might not care about being blacklisted …

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  17. If they actually created a commission to regulate their shows, and were onboard with the ABC, and running in accordance to the Unified rules, then there would be less of a problem.

    But in Canada none of these commissions exist that I’m aware of.

    River Cree was being run safely, but not legally.

    Once the band got involved, everybody was turfed, and a new commission was created, but hasn’t run any shows. So not sure how far they got as far as creating processes, etc.

    In the case in Manitoba it was an out of province body that was being brought in to run the show on the reserve, but they didn’t have any legal standing here and that’s why the RCMP interjected and stopped the show from happening.

    But after S-209 is in place only provincial commissions will have any power in the province, reserve or not. (From my understanding)

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  18. Roderick says:


    One of my concerns with Bill S-209 (amongst others) is that it does not address the formation of aboriginal commissions (BTW – I am not aboriginal, but I used to practice aboriginal law. I don’t know when, but at some point in time there will be a lot of aboriginal self-government).

    I wrote to my MLA, the Minister of Sport and the Minister of Indian Affairs some time ago addressing my concerns – of course, I never received a response from any of them.

    You know when Microsoft changes Windows, and Microsoft claims that everything works so much better and easier now but really it has just become more of a pain in the neck to use. That is what I see Bill S-209 doing – but I have lamented about that in a previous post …

    I also share ccanadax views – this will kill small promotions – the safest shows are, of course, having no shows. I believe commissions should regulate and unsure safety – I also think that they should be active in promoting (I don’t mean as a promoter) and advocating for the sport. This belief is not shared by many people.

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  19. ccanadx says:

    I have a lot of questions as to why the govt takes %5 of the gross gate. Does this happen in any other sport or form of entertain- plays, concerts, exhibitions, festivals etc? Tee various value added taxes take between what- 12 to 15%? now we have mma taxes on top of the value added tax? This is bs-

    The core reason for a commission is safety. The biz relationship between the fighter and the venue

    Do hockey /football or rugby players get tested for VD or what women sports get tested for pregnancy? Really this is the left wing do gooders gone a muck.

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  20. ccanadx says:

    OK, given the act, the commissionaire should be an accountant and std expert.

    The only good thing is after the fights, we know that no one has std and the women are not pregnant so I feel a lot better about the after party.

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  21. Pamela says:

    Looks like the new commissioner is Dave Maedel, former Executive Director and Chief Sheriff of Court Services Branch.

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  22. Don't Call Me Leon says:

    You couldn’t wait until after May 31, just had to spoil it huh!

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