By Jake Donovan
The worst year of Brandon Rios’ boxing career can’t end soon enough.
The aftermath of his one-sided points loss to Manny Pacquiao last month in Macau grew that much worse in the aftermath, when it was learned that the former 140 lb. titlist failed his post-fight urinalysis. The final of five tests conducted under an agreement with Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) turned up traces of banned substance methylexanamine, also known as dimenthylamylamine (DMAA), which is commonly used as a dietary supplement.
“There was a little something in his urine after the fight,’’ Arum told Boxingscene.com when prompted for a response. “It was something the VADA people reported to the Chinese commission after the fight. He passed all the tests before that.
“It wasn’t a steroid. It was probably something he took to make weight,’’ the promoter speculated.
Pacquiao—participating in random drug testing for the first time in his career—came out clean in all of his five drug tests performed by VADA. Rios went four for five, but an .800 average doesn’t cut it when it comes to drug testing.
“Mr. Rios did not successfully complete the VADA program,” confirmed Dr. Margaret Goodman, who reported the results to the WBO, who had an Intercontinental belt at stake in the pay-per-view headliner. “VADA follows its written Results Management Policy and reports all results in writing to the athlete, promoter, ABC and the relevant commission(s), who can confirm individual results. VADA also publicly reports when an athlete has successfully completed the program.”
Rios (31-2-1, 23KO) was rumored to have struggled to make weight, despite the fight marking his first as a welterweight. A career-long lightweight who grew out of the division, Rios opted to move up mainly for the $4 million payday that came with facing Pacquiao, following his pair of thrillers with Mike Alvarado in the 140 lb. division.
Barring a successful appeal and a clean B-sample, Rios will most likely face a suspension. But exactly where and how long isn’t immediately clear.
The repercussions of failing a drug test result for fights in the United States results in a disciplinary hearing with the presiding commission, who then determines the appropriate punishment. Since the fight took place outside of the United States, it’s not known if his suspension—if any is given—will extend beyond China’s borders, or in any fight not overseen by the WBO.
“VADA's role is to administer high-quality testing. It is not our role to determine whether or not disciplinary action is appropriate,” noted Goodman, who refused to speculate on the punishment Rios potentially faces.
For this bout, Rios—like many others in his training camp (headed by reigning Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia)—employed the services of strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza for this bout. The sidebar for that relationship is, obviously, Ariza’s similar role in Pacquiao’s camp for the past two years before a hostile split as he and trainer Freddie Roach rarely saw eye-to-eye on any given issue.
That relationship came to a boiling point during Fight Week in Macau, when the two camps went at it in an incident that brought out the worst in Roach—who made derogatory remarks towards Mexicans and the Jewish religion—and Ariza, who went so far as to kick his former colleague, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
The same team is currently in San Antonio, where Marcos Maidana is set to face Adrien Broner in the headliner of a Showtime-televised quadruple header Saturday evening.
The event in San Antonio is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, who speak briefly on this incident.
“I really don't know enough about the situation, but everyone always wants to blame Ariza for everything,” Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told Boxingscene.com’s David Greisman and RingTV.com’s Lem Satterfield prior to Friday’s weigh-in. “I don't think that's fair. So I'm going to leave it at that. Automatically, people point fingers at Ariza, and that's bullshit, and I'm not one of those. I think that Ariza is doing a good job.”
Rios will have his day in front of judge and jury, but in the meantime sits on two consecutive losses while waiting out what appears to be the worst to come.
Pacquiao’s near-shutout marked his first win in nearly two years, having suffered back-to-back losses in 2012 and taking most of this year off before his celebrated ring return in November.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox