By Ryan Maquiñana
Nonito Donaire vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux on Apr. 13 in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall seemed all but set. All the major media outlets announced the bout. Promoter Top Rank and television giant HBO even set up a press conference for Thursday in the Big Apple.
But something happened along the way. Rigondeaux had only signed off on the fight contract and not an additional agreement to submit to random drug testing administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA). In response, Donaire, who is already enrolled in VADA’s year-round random testing program, threatened to pull out of attending the presser and the fight altogether.
Rigondeaux’s manager, Gary Hyde, then assured the public that his client had consented to VADA testing, but that they wanted a chance to read the agreement in Spanish so that Rigondeaux could understand it. However, Hyde then appended a separate requirement that Donaire’s nutritionist, Victor Conte, turn in the supplements his fighter is using to be tested.
Donaire subsequently took to social media Tuesday night to offer his answer after a conversation with manager Cameron Dunkin: “Soooo, Dunkin told me that Rigo will sign the VADA contract before the press conference and if he doesn't then the presser won't go forward…I’ll take the plane to New York and take my chances. Night people!”
Conte spoke to BoxingScene.com on Wednesday afternoon in order to give his perspective on the matter.
BoxingScene.com: Can you give us an update on the delay behind the deal [between Donaire and Rigondeaux] being finalized?
Victor Conte: There were two things. Bob Arum called me yesterday and said they want the VADA agreement to be in Spanish, which they translated in Spanish and gave to him. Secondly, [Rigondeaux’s team] wanted bottles and containers, all of the products that I give to Nonito, to be sent to them to be tested. I sent them all overnight with tracking, so that’s done.
BoxingScene.com: Where were they sent exactly?
Victor Conte: They were sent to Bob in Las Vegas.
BoxingScene.com: Why do you think they asked for the products you give to Nonito?
Victor Conte: Whatever reason they have for wanting them, I have no issue. It’s all available on my website. Look, Nonito’s been taking my products since May of 2010. He’s been tested randomly, blood and urine, by VADA, roughly monthly for the last eight months.
Marlen Esparza is here working with me, and she has taken all these products at the Olympic Trials, World Championships, [and] Olympic Games. She was tested randomly as well all those times. [The products contain] all legal ingredients and nothing that would come up illegal on a test.
BoxingScene.com: What do you attribute this delay to?
Victor Conte: Here’s my bottom-line opinion. I don’t think any fighter that is going to be doing drug testing that delays, does himself a favor. It makes it look like you have a reason to delay. Is that reason that you need something to be translated into Spanish? I think that’s a reasonable request. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
I don’t know what my products that I give to Nonito have to do with Rigondeaux. To me, that just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It doesn’t matter. I sent them. But anything involving that, that they attempt to use as an excuse for him going into a testing pool, I believe that would be highly suspicious. Obviously, people know that drugs clear out of your system in a period of time.
The bottom line is this. Nonito told me yesterday that if he doesn’t see that signature on the VADA forms before the press conference tomorrow, there will be no press conference, and there will likely be no fight. Nonito, in good faith, went on the plane, and he went there.
But they need to understand that Nonito is the star attraction here. Nonito’s been very upfront about this since early on in the negotiations. All parties have known about this. So if they want that fight, if they want that big payday, which I think would probably be good for Gary Hyde and Rigondeaux, he will get his fighter to sign for testing. And if they don’t, then I believe it’s going to be highly suspicious.
BoxingScene.com: Is there anything else you want to comment on regarding this situation?
Victor Conte: Let me end on a positive. I do want to give props to not only Nonito, but to Rigondeaux and Gary Hyde for doing the VADA testing. I think it’s great for boxing, and I think they deserve credit for stepping up and participating. They said that they will, and I believe that they will, and I think it’s good for boxing.
Ryan Maquiñana was the boxing producer for NBCOlympics.com during London 2012 and writes a weekly column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.