MMA card promoters get apology

The California State Athletic Commission has faxed a letter of apology to the promoters of a mixed martial arts card on which a fighter with a positive test for hepatitis C was allowed to compete.

The commission also said it had been told, but had no documentation as of Tuesday, that the test had been a false positive and the fighter did not have hepatitis C.

Al Joslin and Shelly Matlock, owners of PureCombat Promotions, which held a March 7 MMA card in Tulare, said they received the letter Sunday. Dave Thornton, interim executive officer, confirmed that. The letter came a day after a story ran in The Times reporting that a memo, dated July 22, had been circulated to unknown recipients. That memo admitted that the commission had slipped up and allowed the fighter to compete. It warned people who might have had contact to the dangers of blood-borne diseases. That memo also said the fighter had not been tested for HIV.

Joslin said the apology, under Thornton's signature, agreed that he and his wife, Matlock, as the promoters, "should have been notified."

Thornton confirmed that and added that the incident was "a lesson learned for me and the commission." He was appointed to his interim position on the CSAC June 2.

He said the mistake on the hepatitis test had been picked up by inspectors when they were doing medical checks of fighters for a recent show and that the original memo went to "all the folks we could identify who may have come in contact with the fighter."

One fighter, Preston Scharf, said he had not been among those who received the memo.

Tuesday, Joslin said that he felt better about the situation, that he is aware of how "overburdened" the CSAC is with manpower cutbacks, and that he, too, had been told by the fighter's agent that the test had been a false positive.

Thornton said that privacy laws will not allow the commission to reveal the name of the fighter. But he said that, once documentation had been checked and there was an official medical reading of the hepatitis C and HIV situations, he would make the results public, minus the name.


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