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New UFC Background Checks Ask For Criminal History
Posted by Joseph Lee on 05.27.2014

MMA Junkie reports that UFC will now be asking their new and current fighters for a release of medical records and their criminal history as part of their background checks, along with their educational history.

UFC Senior Vice President of Business And Legal Affairs and Assistant General Counsel Michael Mersch wrote in a letter with the questionnaire: "Zuffa LLC requires its contracted fighters to act in a legal and responsible manner and avoid conduct detrimental to the integrity of the UFC organization. As the UFC's highest profile independent contractors and as ambassadors of the sport of mixed martial arts, UFC fighters are held to a high standard by Zuffa, the media and the public. It is important for Zuffa to be fully informed of your background in order to evaluate and potentially assist on matter that may be detrimental to the integrity of the UFC organization."

Here are highlights of an interview with Boston College Professor of Sports Law Warren Zola on the new background checks:

On the legality of the check: "Companies ask independent contractors to sign all sorts of documents regarding their backgrounds, waivers of liability, (and) background checks, which is certainly very common for many firms. You're asking an independent contractor who is going to perform a physical task to provide medical information and to waive background checks. It's certainly more than many employers would ask, but it's certainly not illegal. If I were going to become a public figure of some kind, I would have the same level of background check," he added. "If I had misled or lied about my background, it would reflect negatively upon my new employer, even if I was an independent contractor. I would expect them to a) ask the questions, and b) terminate me if there was something in there."

On how UFC can get away with asking for that much information: "That's the beauty for their league. If you want to get paid a lot money to fight, this is the way to do it. They have close to a monopoly in doing this, and you can either abide by this private association's request for information or not, and sign these waivers and give up these rights that maybe others wouldn't. But the flip side is, you're now using this industry to pay you a lot of money in a way that no one else would."

On what a private association can do: "A private association has their own constitution, bylaws and rules. They can apply or impose whatever they think those rules are, and there is no claim for due process because they're not a state actor, and as long as they're following their own rules, they can sort of do whatever they want. This fighter can either abide by them or not, but they can't really contest them, if you will."


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