On January 30th, Bill AB1576 was tabled by Rep. Isadore Hall III (D) in the California State Assembly. The bill is intended to introduce mandatory health and safety rules in regards to the adult film industry in the state, specifically focusing on enforcing the use of barrier prophylactics (condoms) and cleaning/disposal of items that come into contact with bodily fluids in an effort to prevent the transmission of STDs and blood-borne diseases. The bill also calls for the introduction of a new law making any violations of these proposed regulations a criminal offense. You may be wondering what a bill focusing on skin flick production has to do with MMA, but language in the bill that focuses specifically on a pair of diseases that can be transmitted by contact with blood – HIV and Hepatitis – could cast a pall over combat sports.
“(4) “Sexually transmitted disease” or “STD” means any infection commonly spread by sexual conduct, including, but not limited to, HIV/AIDS…hepatitis, etc.
(c) An employer shall maintain engineering and work practice controls sufficient to protect employees from exposure to blood and any potentially infectious materials, in accordance with Section 5193 of Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations. Engineering and work practice controls…”
It’s the language in this section that particularly worries Invicta FC fighter Sarah D’alelio. D’alelio, a gritty, outspoken bantamweight, is concerned about the bill for a number of reasons, both within its current scope and what could potentially be added.
“I know someone who’s gonna be affected by it if it passes so I’ve heard a lot about who is actually pushing for this law – (The) AIDS Foundation, who no longer uses any of the money donated to them to find a cure and also own stock in a condom company,” she informed MMASucka.com, “And of course they’re sponsoring Isadore Hall, the assembly member speaking on their behalf. If it passes initially it will only affect the porn industry but it will very quickly spill over to combat sports. No one makes more of a mess with bodily fluids than fighters!”
It’s definitely hard to argue with her logic in that last sentence. The risk of bleeding is inherent in all combat sports, especially those like MMA that allow elbow and knee strikes. However, New York-based lawyer Andrew Vecere feels that the chances of this happening are slim.
“It would appear that it applies solely to the production of adult films and STDs. The section about being exposed the blood and fluid could be argued to apply to mma, but the intent of the bill is clearly the adult film industry. I don’t think it would apply to combat sports,” Vecere told MMASucka after reviewing the bill. When asked about the chances that passing of AB1576 could lead to a “slippery slope” situation in which a similar bill covering combat sports might pass, he said, “Slim I would think. I don’t see anyone outlawing boxing or college wrestling any time soon. While there is the possibility of blood exchange, there is the same risk in wrestling, football, rugby, etc. To go after combat sports due to blood transfer could be applied to any sport with physical contact. Where would it stop? Boxing? Wrestling? Football? Rugby? (It) Seems like a reach.”
With the debate about Bill AB1576 continuing to rage across California from Sacramento to Silicone Valley, the question for those involved with MMA is murky at best. Should we be worried about a law that doesn’t directly affect our chosen sport because there is a chance of a provision being used against it? Or is the concern much ado about nothing? Time will tell, but it’s the kind of legislation that we need to at least monitor if we’re going to keep our sport legal and legitimate.