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MORRISON CASE HAS BOXING, OTHER SPORTS REVISITING HIV
Published February 14, 1996
Heavyweight Tommy Morrison holds a news conference tomorrow on his positive test for HIV (USA TODAY, 2/14). In the wake of the report, boxers and athletes in other sports, as well as members of the media, are revisiting the issue of mandatory testing for the HIV virus. OTHER "BLOOD SPORTS": NHLPA President Mike Gartner noted that most teams offer voluntary HIV testing, but he stopped short of calling for mandatory tests. Gartner: "I don't think I'd want to go that far" (Damien Cox, TORONTO STAR, 2/14). But Mark Messier and Bernie Nicholls told the N.Y. POST they would welcome testing. Larry Brooks reports the NHLPA had presented a HIV- drug-alcohol counseling program to the league as part of the new CBA, but it was rejected by management "because of its projected cost." The NHL is currently developing its own plan (N.Y. POST, 2/14). In Philadelphia, Timothy Dwyer writes, "Clearly it is time for professional football and hockey players to begin mandatory testing" (PHILA. INQUIRER, 2/14). In St. Petersburg, Gary Shelton notes the "safety" issue and urges the NFLPA and NHLPA to "ask some strong questions of their memberships" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 2/14). ABC's "Nightline" hosted the NBPA's Dir. Michael Johnson, the CA Athletic Commission's Bill Eastman, and NIH's Dr. Anthony Fauci. Johnson, on estimates that the risk of transmission for NBA players is "one-in-a-billion": "That's essentially zero, and there's no activity that is absolutely zero risk. This whole idea about reassuring us that there's zero risk and mandatory testing eliminates that risk, or any risk that there would be, is really just not true" (ABC, 2/13). CHALLENGE FOR BOXING: PA Boxing Commissioner George Bochetto reports the "telephone lines have been more than hot" among other state officials regarding testing (Jay Searcy, PHILA. INQUIRER, 2/14). Referee Mills Lane, who reports being "covered" with blood after working a recent Morrison fight, said he went in for a test. Lane told the WASHINGTON POST: "Your right to privacy ends where my right not to be infected begins." Michael Wilbon writes, if boxing can't enforce mandatory testing everywhere, "then it is a sport whose ruin will be accelerated exponentially" (WASHINGTON POST, 2/14). However, George Foreman told the N.Y. DAILY NEWS that he would fight Morrison "tomorrow." Foreman: "If Tommy got cut, just stop the bleeding, bandage it up, and let's go back at it. ... If Tommy quits, five years from now he is going to wish he hadn't, just like Magic Johnson" (Ian O'Connor, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/14).