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Referee Marcos Rosales claims exposure to HIV-positive fighter by athletic inspector Mark Relyea & California boss Andy Foster

By Zach Arnold | October 6, 2018

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On October 2nd, we wrote a formal letter to the California State Athletic Commission. View the three-page printer-friendly graphical version here.


Boss of California athletic inspectors & Andy Foster right-hand man Mark Relyea

This letter is in response to our multi-month investigation regarding a damages claim by veteran boxing referee/judge Marcos Rosales. Mr. Rosales claims that fight celebrity/athletic inspector Mark Relyea & California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster exposed him to an HIV-positive fighter at the March 31st, 2018 GLORY Kickboxing event in Long Beach, California. Mr. Rosales claims that the exposure came as a result of Mr. Relyea not properly handling medicals (blood paperwork from an accredited lab).

Last August, we launched an investigation. Our focus? Obtain as many documents as possible and construct a real chain of evidence.

Through a series of records requests, we requested documents on:

  • fighter suspension records
  • licensing applications
  • general test results regarding how many fighters in 2018 have tested positive for HIV/Hepatitis C
  • policy & procedures manual
  • Who’s Who sheets detailing which records the Sacramento front office needed before a fighter could be cleared to fight

These records, in combination with a review of the state’s Business and Professions Code, would tell us a lot.

In the end, we received partial records. Key information was redacted or censored based on disputable claims of invasion of privacy. Our October 2nd letter was in direct response to the redactions and what legal options can be utilized next.

Our letter to the Athletic Commission members is considered protected speech under California Civil Code of Procedure 425.16 (anti-SLAPP). Here is the text of the October 2nd letter.

*****

October 2, 2018

Dear Chairman Carvelli, Vice Chairwoman Lehman, Dr. Williams, and Dr. Wallace:

The exposure of boxing referee Marcos Rosales to an HIV-positive fighter is one of the gravest errors a regulatory body could commit. The gamesmanship displayed by both legal counsel and DCA in the aftermath has been counterproductive. The California State Athletic Commission has repeatedly expressed health and safety as the top priority. However, the actions on March 31st and the public cover-up afterwards are inconsistent with the commission’s stated values.

Business and Professions Code 18712 establishes statutory authority for lead athletic inspectors to properly collect and review lab paperwork. California Code of Regulations 546 requires lead athletic inspectors to review an original or copy of the blood work. A decade ago, case law established liability for the Athletic Commission regarding 18712. Fighting is legally classified as ultrahazardous. The California Judicial Council details two causes of action: Public Entity Liability for Failure to Perform Mandatory Duty and Strict Liability for Ultrahazardous Activities.

The failure of lead athletic inspector Mark Relyea in properly handling a fighter’s medicals resulted in a fighter, corner staff, and referee Marcos Rosales being exposed to an HIV-positive fighter. Since the March 31st, 2018 incident, there has been a push to get the State Personnel Board to re-establish the Chief Athletic Inspector position. The last time there was a rush to hire someone for CAI, Ernest Che Guevara was promoted under dubious circumstances after Antonio Margarito’s illegal hand wraps. Mark Relyea’s critical error, as addressed by Executive Officer Andy Foster internally 10 days after the HIV exposure, should result in mandatory public testimony under oath to the board about the procedures or lack of procedures that led to this HIV exposure. If Mr. Relyea will not publicly testify under oath, the board should consider disqualifying him from future promotion.

Our multi-month investigation has uncovered many facts that have not been disclosed publicly or fully in private to members of the Athletic Commission as a body. Consumer Affairs has pertinent case information available at any time for disclosure. For example, state agencies have a single Policy & Procedures Manual that all employees can reference. The Athletic Commission, however, produced 14 different manuals in a formal records request.

Just as with the discrimination claim filed by various boxing referees, legal counsel denied any sort of existence of a damages claim filed by Marcos Rosales despite admission on the meeting agenda of closed session to discuss pending litigation. What is being hidden from you? Faulty handling of medical records has been addressed in writing. (Memo enclosed).

Regrettably, legal counsel has censored public documents in records requests. Inspectors, promoters, and matchmakers receive detailed Who’s Who sheets before weigh-ins showing which fighters need which records to be produced for clearance. It is a simple yes/no box with the word NEED. There is no detailed medical information about individual fighters. Since both matchmakers and promoters receive Who’s Who sheets, there is no legal basis for an invasion of privacy claim to hide documentation from public viewing.

As a result of redactions in the Who’s Who records request, I have 30 days to file for a writ of mandate in Sacramento Superior Court. Such a request would not only cost me money but would cost the Athletic Commission money in both attorney fees for the Commission and, upon a court victory, my attorney fees.

There are many lessons to be learned from what happened to Marcos Rosales. Censorship and gamesmanship are not the right lessons. Since intentional transmission of HIV is no longer a felony in California, it is vital that Consumer Affairs informs all members of the California State Athletic Commission the truth regarding what happened and what the plans are for future implementation of policy & procedures to prevent future HIV exposure.

You deserve all of the information in this matter. The public also has a right to know. It would be better for that information to come from you rather than the public seeing it in the media.

Sincerely,

Zach Arnold
FightOpinion.com | zarnold9000@gmail.com

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