The American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians (AAPRP) is recommending that Saturday’s heavyweight title clash between Ruslan Chagaev and Wladimir Klitschko in Gelsenkirchen, Germany be cancelled due to medical safety issues. The group says Chagaev should be banned until he can demonstrate a negative hepatitis status. Chagaev’s fight against Nikolai Valuev was called off by Finnish authorities just weeks ago because Chagaev apparently had Hepatitis B antigens present in his blood, but in Germany, where Chagaev has fought twice since being OK’d to return to the ring, Chagaev’s blood level is considered safe and as of now all systems are go for a megafight that will attract 60,000 fight fans.
The AAPRP’s statement:
As it has been reported that Mr. Ruslan Chagaev has tested positive for the Hepatitis B Virus, the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians (the “AAPRP”) is recommending that the proposed contest between Mr. Ruslan Chagaev and Mr. Vladimir Klitschko be postponed due to medical safety issues. The AAPRP also recommends that this fight not take place and suggests that Mr. Chagaev not be permitted to fight (anyone) until, and unless, he can demonstrate a “negative hepatitis status.
In several recent media accounts, it has been stated that Mr. Chagaev has a “low hepatitis B viral load” and therefore poses “no risk” of transmitting this dangerous virus. The AAPRP disagrees with this assertion. Although the risk of transmission of the Hepatitis B Virus may be minimal, the risk is not zero. Additionally, given the fact that Hepatitis B is a very virulent virus and easily transmitted, it is even more important to be prudent in order to not only protect Mr. Chagaev’s opponent, but also the referee, judges, sanctioning body officials, cornermen, ringside physicians and ringside observers who may be at risk of contracting this dangerous virus. As boxing is obviously considered a “blood sport”, it is very common for blood to splatter on the individuals immediately adjacent at ringside. The conjunctiva (eye) route of transfer for this virus is well documented….so any person seated at ringside, who is not immunized, may be at risk.
Furthermore, statistics suggest that if Mr. Chagaev were to share needles with another individual, the transmission rate of Hepatitis B could be as high as 30%. If blood from a cut on Mr. Chagaev were to come into direct contact with a cut on another fighter, the transmission rate could be as high as 10%. Should blood squirt from Mr. Chagaev and hit another individual in the eye (i.e. Judge, referee, cornerman or media) the transmission rate could be as high as 5%. Therefore, the risk is obviously greater than zero and could put others at ringside (beside his opponent) at risk for acquiring this virus.
Unless everyone at ringside (Judges, referees, ringside physicians, commission members, sanctioning body officials, trainers, cornermen, media reporters, ring girls, television technicians, spectators and of course the fighters opponent) has documented immunity to Hepatitis B (a three shot hepatitis immunity vaccination series given over a 6 month period with a subsequent documented blood test confirming immunity), protection against exposure to this dangerous virus cannot be guaranteed. Finally, if bleeding does occur, the individuals responsible for cleaning the ring as well as those handling the gloves must also be immune to minimize the risk as well.
The American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians considers safety our number one priority and will work with local and international commissions to insure that all precautions are taken to protect all individuals involved in professional boxing.