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California State Athletic Commission doctors meeting over “unwarranted invasion of privacy” of fighter

By Zach Arnold | November 7, 2018

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Andy Foster’s right hand man, Mark Relyea

On October 6th, 2018, we published our official letter to the California State Athletic Commission regarding referee Marcos Rosales claiming exposure to an HIV-positive fighter by athletic inspector Mark Relyea and Executive Officer Andy Foster.

When we sent the letter to board members of the Athletic Commission, we were hoping for some sort of response. Private, public, formal, informal. We got no response. Our two month investigation into this story produced documentation that led to us to ask some very serious questions.

At no time have we ever identified the name of the GLORY kickboxer who tested positive for HIV in California. We did this on purpose. While others might be worried about various legal issues in disclosing the fighter’s name, we were and remain more than prepared to fight off any cause of action related to invasion of privacy.

There’s a very important reason we have not disclosed the HIV-positive fighter’s name: the fighter is not our target. The fighter plays a pivotal role in the story but our target are the regulators who allowed a fighter the state of California classified as HIV-positive to compete in GLORY on March 31st.

Our instincts over decades of media experience taught us to immediately expect a re-framing of chief athletic inspector Mark Relyea’s alleged mistake(s) into a media strategy attacking us for victim shaming a fighter.

Four weeks after board members and doctors affiliated with the California State Athletic Commission were mailed our letter on this story, the Sacramento front office posted an official agenda for a November 10th (Saturday) doctors meeting in Los Angeles. Someone at either the Athletic Commission or their bosses at the Department of Consumer Affairs thought the following would be a productive message to send:

CLOSED SESSION

13. Pursuant to Government Code Section 11126(c)(2) the Committee will discuss matters that constitute an unwarranted invasion of the privacy of an individual licensee or applicant.

Unless there has been another incident involving an exposure of HIV or Hepatitis that we don’t know about, there is good reason to believe that this is all about what happened on March 31st at the GLORY event in Long Beach.

The choice of wording here reflects very poorly on whoever made this announcement. Either: a) the doctors are the ones being accused of an “unwarranted” invasion of privacy or b) the doctors are discussing what to do because of the damages claim filed by Marcos Rosales and our subsequent letter addressing what we discovered through public records is now being characterized as an “unwarranted” invasion of privacy.

What’s an unwarranted invasion of privacy is exposing other licensees to a fighter who you claim is HIV-positive and let fight because of your own internal admission of mishandling of medical records by chief athletic inspector Mark Relyea. The Athletic Commission internal memo threw him under the bus ten days after the GLORY show by requiring all inspectors to check in with the Sacramento office on fighter medicals for approvals without changing statutes or the Code of Regulations.

The hush-hush nature of this story was ridiculous to begin with because it didn’t require naming the HIV-positive fighter in order to address the errors that led to what happened. Instead, it’s been cover-up after cover-up. Now that a damages claim has been filed by Marcos Rosales and members of the Athletic Commission board are officially aware of what happened, suddenly it’s time for Sacramento to reframe the matter by deflecting heat from Mark Relyea and Andy Foster and onto the whistleblowers.

A rather novel strategy if you’re trying to keep things quiet.

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