Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is an irreversible progressive neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated head trauma. Combative sports and collision sports have strong ties to the disease.
Today, YouTuber turned celebrity boxer Jake Paul stated that he has “early signs” of the disease.
The reality is if any athlete has CTE they are not fit to be licensed for professional boxing. The question now is whether Paul has a sincere reason for his statement or whether he is trolling for attention. If the former, the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission, which is regulating Paul’s imminent boxing bout with retired wrestler and MMA athlete Ben Askren, has some serious review to do.
As reported by BloodyElbow’s Zane Simon, Paul stated that “I’ve gone and gotten brain scans and have early signs of CTE.“
CTE is not formally diagnosed by brain scan. It is in fact only formally diagnosed after death by examining the brain tissue directly. That said, CTE can be medically suspected in the living.
It is unclear what “brain scans” Paul is referring to. Georgia requires very little by way of neurological examination for licensing.
The Association of Boxing Commissions summarizes Georgia’s medical requirements as follows:
- Blood Work: HIV, Hepatitis B Surface Antigen, Hepatitis C Antibody. Blood work is valid for 180 days.
- Physical: All fighters must submit a physical administered by a licensed M.D. orD.O. Physicals are valid for 180 days.
- Eye Exam: An eye exam administered by an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
- EKG: Required only if the doctor asks for one.
- Radiological Exams: None at this time.
- Neurology: Not at this time. Changes will be made in the near future.
- Urinalysis: Not at this time.
- Female Fighters: Female fighters must submit a pregnancy test at the weigh-in or later.
- Older Fighters: Fighters 37 and over must pass an ophthalmological eye exam administered by a licensed ophthalmologist, a neurological exam administered by a licensed neurologist, and a comprehensive cardiovascular exam administered by a licensed physician.
- Additional Requirements: None at this time.
More specifically, under Georgia Rule 85-1.04 the State can require neurological examination but this is limited to boxers who “who have competed in over 200 rounds during their professional career” which Paul has not. The full section reads as follows:
All boxers intending to compete in Georgia who have competed in over 200 rounds during their professional career, according to the number of rounds disclosed on such boxer’s official ring record, and prior to competing in Georgia, must submit to the commission the results of a detailed neurological examination performed within the previous twelve months by a board certified and state licensed neurologist. Such examination shall include a careful examination for signs of any trauma induced neurological damage along with any other specific test or tests requested by the neurologist. Any boxer not submitting said results prior to the match may be allowed to compete provided however that such boxer’s license will, at the conclusion of the match, be medically suspended until such time as his neurological examination requirement is fulfilled.
Depsite the limited neurological testing, Georgia does require boxers to answer the following question in the licence applicaiton forms
“Do you have any current medical conditions?”
A false answer is “GROUNDS FOR LICENSE REVOCATION AND OR OTHER APPLICABLE LEGAL PENALTIES“
The question is, did Paul disclose this medical condition to authorities? If so are they ok with the bout proceeding? If not, is Paul’s license in jeopardy?
Author Erik Magraken is a British Columbia litigation lawyer, combat sports law consultant, combat sports lawblogger, and deeply, deeply appreciated UGer.