Advertisement
Advertisement
Boxingscene.com

Fighting Words: In ’12, PED Speculation Became Suspicion

by David P. Greisman

Manny Pacquiao had not yet even been resuscitated from unconsciousness before boxing fans and observers began to speculate about what put him there.

And in their minds, it wasn’t just Juan Manuel Marquez.

To them, it was a Marquez who looked better at 143 pounds than his body had ever appeared in three other fights at or slightly above the junior welterweight limit. It was also a Marquez who not only knocked Pacquiao out with a perfect punch, but also had knocked him down earlier in the fight with a single shot.

It was the fact that Marquez’s strength and conditioning coach had admittedly been involved with distributing steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.

It was the fact that this had been a year in which several notable fighters had tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. People questioned Marquez even though he passed the tests he took — not just because of the Pacquiao knockout and not just because of his strength and conditioning coach — but also because the testing done in boxing still lags behind where it should be in order to ensure that others aren’t also using banned substances.

This was the year that speculation became suspicion.

This is because of Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto, because of Antonio Tarver and Erik Morales. Other noteworthy fighters either had tested positive for or been implicated in using performance enhancing substances in the past, including Evander Holyfield, Jameel McCline, Shane Mosley, James Toney and Fernando Vargas. But these four positive tests in particular in 2012 were highly publicized, with two of them leading to major bouts being canceled.

Peterson’s team has argued that the boxer’s use of synthetic testosterone was for legitimate medical reasons. Berto’s camp has claimed that the fighter took a tainted supplement. Morales, meanwhile, blamed tainted beef. But a decade after the window into baseball’s steroid problem was first cracked open — and with the countless positive tests that have come since in various sports, and the countless explanations and excuses that have been given for them — the sporting world has become understandably skeptical.

In this post-BALCO, post-Lance Armstrong world, we are long past the days in which someone can claim that they are clean solely because they have passed drug tests.

But we still cannot conclude, without a doubt, that an athlete is dirty unless he has been caught cheating — or named, as with Holyfield, Mosley and McCline, as being clients of companies that distributed these drugs.

That leaves us speculating about the depth of the problem.

That leaves us suspicious about our sport.

It is difficult enough to get Major League Baseball to properly police itself. Though players are still being caught under the league’s testing program, it can easily be argued that those caught are the ones who do not know how to beat a system that still is nowhere near as stringent as it could be and should be.

It is even harder to get those who regulate the Sweet Science to get better policies in place regarding a more shadowy science.

There is no single league — no one body that oversees all of the fights and all of the fighters, no single body that takes in all of the revenue. We are left with athletic commissions in every state, and even tribal commissions with different rules. We are left with various promoters, who are more interested in cleaning up at the box office than they are in cleaning up the sport.

It will take a lot to clean up boxing.

Regulating combat sports can be like regulating business. Promoters, like companies, will go to where it is easier and more profitable to put on a fight. State athletic commissions are left in a conflicted position of striving to oversee that which goes on within their jurisdictions, while also needing big boxing cards to go on in order to support their operations.

Money is the answer. Money is also the problem.

For athletic commissions to expand the scope of their testing — more fighters tested, more testing done, more substances tested for — they will need more money from the boxers and promoters.

Only a small handful of boxing matches have gone on with the stringent testing seen by many as the standard by which the sport should follow. And even that agency — the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association — absorbed the price of testing earlier this year for the canceled Andre Berto-Victor Ortiz rematch and for year-round testing for Nonito Donaire. Those costs were covered through donations to the nonprofit.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency also has been involved with drug testing for recent boxing matches, particularly for Golden Boy Promotions in the wake of a pair of Golden Boy fights being canceled after Peterson and Berto tested positive under VADA.

In lieu of sanctioning bodies being willing or being able to do better drug testing, we are left with outside agencies that are brought in only when the boxers can afford it (sometimes with assistance) or when the promoters pay for it. Yet that leaves large gaps, and not just with the sheer number of major matches that still go on without stringent drug testing.

The nature of drug testing becomes something discussed in — and delayed due to —prolonged negotiations.

And state athletic commissions have not shown the best track record for dealing with the terms of testing done by these independent agencies.

California relicensed Berto, who failed a VADA test, but suspended Tarver, who failed a state test. And the New York State Athletic Commission allowed the rematch between Danny Garcia and Erik Morales to go forward despite the late revelation that Morales had been positive for clenbuterol under USADA’s testing. That bout should have been called off, or held up, until the commission had held a full hearing — Morales may have deserved a chance to explain his case, but he should not have been licensed to fight until the commission had issued a ruling.

Promoters, meanwhile, are not going to invest in something that not only would cost them for testing, but also could cost them if they cancel an entire card should a main event boxer come up positive.

Nor will they be forced to adapt. Major League Baseball’s executives were called before Congress years ago, told either to clean up their own sport or have the federal government do it for them.

That won’t happen in boxing.

That leaves us uncertain about our fighters. There aren’t always going to be telling statistical surges that can only be explained by illicit measures — a fighter using performance enhancing drugs isn’t necessarily going to score more knockouts the way that a batter might hit more home runs.

But we’re also not naïve. We know that athletes in all sports are finding ways to cheat the system. And we know that boxing is no different.

We just don’t know how bad boxing has it.

We do know that we won’t know until boxing fixes itself.

The 10 Count will return next year.

“Fighting Words” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com. David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by stretchedout on 01-02-2013

[quote=ray*;12879450]suspicion was back in 2009 for normal people, a right hand brought it home to the dumb/slow people.[/quote] [b][size="5"]exactly !!!![/size][/b]

Comment by stretchedout on 01-02-2013

[QUOTE=ADP02;12878844]Easy, we were right that Floyd put every roadblock in the book. Manny accepted but then Floyd put new roadblocks. When the new roadblocks initially came out as rumors, Floyd fans got caught with stating "I will not believe it…

Comment by Ray* on 01-02-2013

Suspicion was back in 2009 for normal people, a right hand brought it home to the dumb/slow people.

Comment by GoldSugar on 01-02-2013

[QUOTE=ADP02;12878844]Easy, we were right that Floyd put every roadblock in the book. Manny accepted but then Floyd put new roadblocks. When the new roadblocks initially came out as rumors, Floyd fans got caught with stating "I will not believe it…

Comment by ADP02 on 01-01-2013

[QUOTE=stretchedout;12878186]Well pac-stain, which one is it..... You can either accept the result, sit down, and shut the fuk up, or..... ..... you can admit that Mayweather was correct, and then explain why Pacquiao refused random blood tests without a 24-day…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (59)
Top Headlines Anthony Joshua Could Fight in Nigeria For Right Price, Says Hearn Brook Mentions Spence, But Talks Thurman-Garcia, Pacquiao Parker-Ruiz Title Fight Nearing Sold Out Status in New Zealand Frampton: Santa Cruz Can't Be Busier or Better in Our Rematch Jason Sosa Relfects on Memorable 2016 Run, Maps Out Future Saunders: Need Another Fight Before Golovkin, Other Top Foe Mason Menard Views Ray Beltran Fight As Doorstep To Stardom Wilder: Joshua Has Fought D-Level Guys; Wouldn't Be Big in U.S. Izu Ugonoh Explains His Decision To Sign on With Al Haymon Haye: My Fight is Headline News, Zero Talk About Joshua-Molina Murat Gassiev's Title Win Continues New Cruiserweight Trend Romain Jacob, Due to Vision Issues, Retires From Boxing Parker's Promoter Rips Haye For Taking Easy Route, Easy Money Danny Roman vs. Adam Lopez - WBA Eliminator on ShoBox, 1/20 Ellerbe Couldn't Care Less About McGregor's Trash Talk, Motives Nicholas Walters Vows Redemption: I Will Be Back Even Better! "Fighting Words" - Five Biggest Storylines From This Busy Coming Weekend Kovalev Calls Ward 'Son of Judges,' Mocks Surprised Look In Tweet Michael Katsidis is Latest To Pursue Conor McGregor Payday Video: Andrew Tabiti Talks Career Status, Cruiserweight Division Joseph Parker Taking Klitschko Lessons in The Ring With Ruiz Video: Badou Jack Talks Kovalev-Ward, Mayweather-McGregor Gassiev: I Was Surprised at How Tough Lebedev Was, He Hits Hard Ed Brown, 25, Passes Away Sunday Following Fatal Shooting Andy Ruiz Hits New Zealand Feeling Strong, Confident of Victory Video: Bermane Stiverne Discusses Alexander Povetkin Title Fight Juan Carlos Reveco Bounces Back With Wide Points Win Photos: Murat Gassiev, Denis Lebedev Wage War in Moscow Troyanovsky: I Never Saw The Punch, I Hope To Get a Rematch Murat Gassiev-Denis Lebedev: Post-Fight Report Card Saunders Admits Weight Issue, Needed 6 Months To Drop From 210 Photos: Jesus Cuellar Grinding Hard For Abner Mares Title Defense Fan Favorite Jose Ramirez Wants To Bring HBO Card To Fresno Zlaticanin: I Plan To Knock Mikey Garcia Out, He's Easy To Hit! Chavez Jr. Admits: If I Don't Beat Britsch - Then It's Time To Go! Photos: Billy Joe Saunders Looks Poor in Lackluster Akavov Win Billy Joe Saunders: I'll Do My Two Mandatories, Then a Big Fight Frank Warren Sees Bradley Skeete Going For World Title in 2017 Tony Bellew Hints That David Haye is Broke: His Life is in Turmoil! Julian Williams: I'm More Focused, I Definitely Went The Extra Mile
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement