Sun, Sep 03, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Women wrestlers don't need to take pregnancy tests

AP , JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI

Female wrestlers in Missouri have prevailed in a battle over submitting to costly pregnancy tests before competing.

The state Office of Athletics announced on Friday it was changing its rule that requires female professional wrestlers to provide proof from doctors that they were not pregnant within a week of every match.

That rule took effect in November and is part of state requirements for licensing contact sports such as professional boxing, wrestling and martial arts.

The proposed rule, published in the Missouri Register on Friday, relaxes the requirement. It now requires a female wrestler to verify within two days of a match that she is "aware of her pregnancy status," using either a test by the health department, a doctor or one women can buy and complete on their own. But paperwork from a doctor is no longer required and does not specify how recent the test must be.

Cautions

It also cautions women against participating in such contact sports while pregnant.

Wrestler Julie Utley, of High Ridge, Missouri, said in June that she has not wrestled since March because she refuses to take a pregnancy test. She argued the state pregnancy testing regulation intruded on her privacy and makes it too expensive for many women to continue participating in the sport. She estimated it would cost at least US$60 a month for tests.

State officials said earlier this summer that the Missouri Office of Athletics wanted to follow what other states requiring the tests for boxers and wrestlers. The office said 37 state and tribal boxing commissions require pregnancy testing.

Utley did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Friday evening.

Now that the rule has been published, there is a 30-day public comment period, but under the rule-making process it still likely will be months before it takes effect.

The Missouri Office of Athletics licenses about 900 boxers and wrestlers, about 100 of them women.

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