Kim Couture said she was unaware that she was under indefinite suspension from the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board (NJSACB) until just prior to her fight with Sheila Bird at an event this past weekend in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Couture said she underwent surgery this past February to repair a broken jaw sustained in her first professional fight. After being made aware of the suspension on the day of the July 8 fight, her doctor faxed documentation of the surgery to the New Jersey and Calgary commissions.
NJSACB's Nick Lembo received the paperwork at 6 p.m. on the night of the event, and forwarded it to the physician that suspended Couture this past October for review. But there was no documentation related to the medical concerns for which she was suspended.
An NJSACB-approved physician suspended her indefinitely. To be cleared, she was required to get a CT scan of her facial bones and needed a green light from an ENT doctor.
"Very late in the game, and the wrong paperwork," Lembo said. "So, simply put, Calgary and Kim were notified that we were not lifting the suspension."
"The Calgary commission should have required that New Jersey lift the suspension from the database before participation," ABC president Tim Lueckenhoff wrote in an email to MMAjunkie.com. "I have a policy that if the database shows you are suspended, you do not fight until removed and I have written documentation in hand.
"Each commission who is a member of the ABC must review the MMA database before each fight numerous times to ensure that fighters are not on suspension. The database is there for everyone's use, and to ignore the valuable information contained herein is criminal."
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In a communication with MMAWeekly Lembo went into further detail about the suspension.
“It is correct that Couture was medically suspended by the NJSACB on October 23 2010, that the medical suspension remains in place at the current time, and that it will remain in place until the terms are satisfied.".
“Kim herself signed both suspension notice and insurance papers on 10-23, after her fight. She was suspended pending a CT scan of facial bones, for orbital and nasal concerns, and ENT clearance of same."
“On the very evening of the fight, we received an MRI of her jaw.”
“Again, she remains on suspension and Commissioner Davis will now be reviewing whether a disciplinary suspension is appropriate,” Lembo said.
The Calgary Combative Sports Commission responds:
Following the publication of this article, MMAWeekly.com received a response from the Calgary Combative Sports Commission stating they were under the impression that the suspension imposed by New Jersey on Kim Couture had been lifted, and therefore they licensed her to fight.
According to the statement, they are now confirming if that suspension was indeed lifted and are looking into that situation now.
“The Calgary Combative Sports Commission supports the suspensions established by other Commissions,” the statement read. “Fighter safety is of utmost importance to us and we work toward that end in all the actions we take as a Commission.”
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