Update October 20, 2017 – Today Dr. Larry Lovelace, the current president of the Association of Ringside Physicians, responded to me with his personal views as a doctor with over three decades experience in combat sports with respect to the below story. Here is what he had to say –
Hi Eric. I will respond to your interesting question as a Ringside physician. (Not as the President or a representative of ARP). Ive been a Ringside doc for over 30 years. I have never performed a breast exam on a female fighter in a prefight physical. None of my partners or peers have either. The only reason I can think of to do one is if a female fighter has a known underlying breast condition that could possibly deteriorate or worsen secondary to competition. (I am not aware of the existence of any such condition )
Thanks for asking.
Armed with the above, hopefully any fighter asked to undergo a ringside ‘breast exam’ can persuade the doctor that this is not an accepted practice.
Update October 18, 2017 – Tara LaRosa’s opponent for the bout, Roxanne Modafferi, has weighed in as well with the following tweet confirming the experience –
This morning MMA Fighter Tara LaRosa posted a number of troubling tweets about her experience fighting in Massachusetts –
These tweets speak for themselves.
I have reviewed the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission Regulations regarding licencing and pre-fight medical examinations. I set these out below.
These are the licensing requirements
These are the regulations requiring a physical examination prior to the bout.
While a physician does have broad discretion nowhere is a mandatory breast exam mentioned. The ‘special in-depth‘ exam is only triggered if there are ‘symptoms of ill health or physical impairment‘. It is hard to imagine how, absent compelling circumstances, a breast exam could be part of the pre-fight physical examination.
I have written to the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission for comment on whether breast exams are part of their licencing process and if so on what health and safety grounds these are justified. I will publish their reply once received.