Combat Sports Commission Independent Review
Executive summary and recommendations
An independent review of the Commission’s policies, procedures and operations around the preparation for contests has been undertaken following the death of a registered contestant undertaking a weight cut in the lead up to a contest.
The key findings of the review are:
- The Commission’s processes for contestant registration and issuing event permits appear to meet the requirements of the Combat Sports Act 1987 and the Combat Sports Regulations 2004 and appear appropriate.
- These processes were correctly followed by the Commission for the registration of the deceased contestant and for the permit approval for the event the deceased contestant was preparing for at the time of her death.
- The efficiency of these processes could be improved with the completion of the implementation of the online application forms and Commission database enhancements (currently in progress).
- The Commission has developed Contestant Preparation Standards & Guidelines to address requirements of the Act, however these guidelines have not yet been well communicated. The guidelines are now on the Commission web site but were not available publicly at the time of the contestant’s death. It is recommended that the Commission provide further communication to the industry on these guidelines. The guidelines could also be directly referenced on the registration application form.
- The Commission does not record (nor is required to record) in the Commission database all weight measurements for contestants provided to the Commission. Should this be recorded the data may be useful in determining if some contestants (and trainers) are using potentially dangerous weight loss programs in the lead up to contests.
- The Commission has undertaken a study of contestant weight changes between the weigh in and the contest and should continue to assess this data and investigate options (such as the timing of weigh ins) that may reduce the use of harmful weight loss practices in preparing for contests.
- Contestants and industry participants have a responsibility to follow health and safety practices recommended by the Commission. It is recommended that the Commission assess the risk of weight loss practices to contestant health and safety (along with other potential risks to contestant health and safety) and determine if it is appropriate to put in place further measures to address the risk, subject to the resources available to do this.
The following recommendations are made to the Commission:
- Expedite the completion of the online application system, in particular the integration of the online application forms with the Commission database, to improve the efficiency of the application processes.
- Include a declaration on the registration application form that the applicant has read important documents such as the Contestant Preparation Standards & Guidelines and the Code of Conduct for Contestants and Industry Participants. If using an online form, the form could possibly enforce the applicant to open these documents before submitting their application.
- Include contestant weight data on the Part 2 promotion permit application form, along with the agreed contest weight.
- Communicate about the contestant preparation guidelines more broadly (e.g. post on Facebook, email to all registered contestants and trainers). The layout of the web site could also be made more user friendly to the industry e.g. include the preparation guidelines in a section like ‘Information for contestants’ which may be more likely to be viewed than as it is currently under a section named ‘Legislation, regulations and fact sheets’.
- Consider updating the Commission database to record contestant weights at registration, weights on Certificates of Fitness and weights at contest weigh ins. If such weight data was available in the database then the system itself could automatically flag significant weight changes in contestants and repeated significant weight changes for contestants using the same trainer to assist in identifying potentially dangerous weight loss practices.
- Make contestant weight history available to the medical practitioners conducting pre-contest medical checks and include a specific question/check box in relation to weight loss on the pre-contest medical form.
- Continue to investigate options for the timing of weigh ins and how this might impact on contestants undertaking weight loss programs prior to contests.
- Assess the overall risk of weight loss practices to contestant health and safety (along with other potential risks to contestant health and safety) and determine if it is appropriate to put in place further measures to address the risk, subject to the resources available to do this.