Josh Barnett's quest to appeal the denial of licensure to fight in the state of California is turning into a prolonged ordeal. On Monday, the appeal was delayed for the fourth time, and is now scheduled for the April 20 California State Athletic Commission meeting.
As Sherdog.com reports, the sticking point this time turned out to be Josh Barnett's absence at the session. The legal counsel for the former UFC heavyweight champion and Pride standout was present and ready to plead his case regarding the testing procedures and chain of custody regarding his positive steroid sample from July 2009; however, the commission ruled it would not proceed without the fighter's being present. Barnett has been out of the country, according to his attorney, Michael J. DiMaggio (apparently, he appeared in Antonio Inoki's IGF event in Tokyo at JCB Hall).
Barnett tested positive for anabolic steroid ahead of the scheduled August 2009 showdown with the consensus heavyweight king, Fedor Emelianenko at "Affliction: Trilogy." The pharmaceutical transgression led to the cancellation of the event and dissolution of the embattled promotion.
DiMaggio expressed his disappointment at the postponement of the appeal, arguing that he and the rest of Barnett's counsel were not aware of any rule or regulation regarding the presence of the client at the appeal. He added that, "even criminal cases go forward without the accused present in some instances."
DiMaggio also stressed that, considering the focus of Barnett's defense on the procedure of the drug test and the handling of the sample after its administration, Barnett himself does not have any additional input.
"Presenting issues and raising issues relating to the test results, the chain of custody, the protocol, those type of issues are issues that can be addressed without Mr. Barnett being present," said DiMaggio. "His presence and his ability to be cross-examined is irrelevant to those issues."
Newly hired CSAC executive George Dodd countered that the letter sent to Barnett regarding the procedure to regain his license in California explicitly stated that he appear in person before the commission.
DiMaggio held his ground and expounded that, if his team were allowed to make its case, Barnett and commission would not have to undergo the redundant inquiry about Barnett's alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. He also pointed out Barnett's option of renouncing the appeal if it proves to be lengthy and cumbersome.
According to Dodd, however, the matter is far from resolved. Until next time....