By Chris Robinson
The night of September 15 was a humbling one for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Inside of the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, the former WBC middleweight champion of the world was thoroughly outclassed over eleven and a half rounds by Argentina’s Sergio Martinez. And while he nearly pulled lighting out of a bottle in the twelfth and final round with a late knockdown and a follow-up barrage, ultimately Chavez Jr. would drop a wide unanimous decision.
Following that defeat, the first of his career, the 26-year old Chavez would end up failing a pre-fight drug test, as he was found to have traces of marijuana in his urine. And while Julio and his team have since attempted to offer an explanation for the test results, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has temporarily suspended Chavez, with an upcoming disciplinary hearing set to take place in the next two months.
The ordeal has led Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who co-promotes Chavez, to do a lot of thinking as well as much studying. While inside of the Manhattan Beach Marriott on Thursday, ahead of this weekend’s HBO-televised Nonito Donaire-Toshiaki Nishioka clash, Arum reached out to me to reveal all of his thoughts on the matter.
This is what Arum had to share.
Doing his research…
“We’ve done a lot of research as to how the major sports, like NFL Football, Major League Baseball, NBA, how they treat performance-enhancing drugs against how they treat these so-called recreational drugs. I think that it would behoove boxing commissions to do some research, because they would learn that when it’s performance-enhancing drugs, the sanctions, suspensions, are really heavy. Because performance-enhancing drugs really are cheating. Also, if you take diuretics, you have to punish the use of diuretics, not because diuretics per se are performance-enhancing, but they mask performance-enhancing drugs. And that’s why they’re bad.”
Not meriting a suspension…
“Now, when it comes to recreational drugs, the policy of the leagues, which in my opinion should be adopted by the commissions, is that it doesn’t merit a suspension. [But it does merit] rehabilitation, and going into rehab and making sure that they don’t use them if that’s what we believe. That’s what the leagues do. In other words, they treat marijuana, the recreational drugs, completely different from the way they treat a performance-enhancing. And I suggest that the commission, particularly in Nevada, do the same. You don’t suspend for the use of recreational drugs. Particularly if the evidence shows it was well before the fight. You don’t suspend, but you do require the athlete to go to rehabilitation, to go to a program where he won’t ever use it again.”
All drugs aren’t the same…
“We’ve done now our research. It’s not just baloney. It’s not just how we feel about marijuana, drugs, and so forth. That’s what we’ve been looking for here. The fact that there has to be a sensible program. You can’t just say ‘All drugs are the same’. All drugs aren’t the same. Performance-enhancing drugs, that could be the same. But not recreational drugs. It has to be treated differently because what happens if you suspend a guy for a long period for smoking a joint and he can’t then pursue his career? What will he do usually? He’ll go back to his house, can’t pursue his livelihood, and he’ll get high day after day. There has to be some sense in these things.”
Keeping in touch with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr…
“I know where his mind is. He smoked a joint, or he took some marijuana, in order to go to sleep. [It was] a month before the fight, because he was having insomnia. For those of us who use marijuana, it’s better than a sleeping pill and it does relax you. Now he knows that there is a prohibition against it. The question, I don’t want to get into ‘Should there be a prohibition against it?’, so he won’t do it again. He’ll take a sleeping pill.”
Whether or not the commission will listen…
“I have no idea. I think they should. I have high regard for the commissioners and I think they are very smart people, very understanding people, and I would hope that this type of argument, that Chavez’s lawyer will be making, resonates with them.”
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