By Rick Reeno
Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, sat down with BoxingScene.com to discuss the recent controversy with Mexican superstar Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-1-1, 32KOs).
Last week, it was confirmed that Chavez tested positive for marijuana. The test sample was taken immediately following his twelve round decision loss to Sergio Martinez at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. The fight took place on September 15th.
This marked the second time that Chavez tested positive for a banned substance in Nevada. In 2009, he tested positive for Furosemide, a diuretic, after his win over Troy Rowland. The official result was changed to a no-decision. Chavez was fined $10,000 and suspended for seven months.
BoxingScene.com: How long of a suspension is Chavez Jr. looking at, based on this being his second failed test in Nevada?
Kizer: If you were looking at the same drug, he would be looking at...at least a year. This is not just a different drug but a different king of drug. Marijuana as opposed to diuretics. The first offense for marijuana is handled much lighter but by no means am I suggesting that it's not handled seriously because it is. But its much lighter than a diuretic or steroid.
That's one of the things the commission will have to look at. How much of an enhancement do you put on this from the normal suspension, because of the prior diuretic. Chavez, and his attorneys, will have the opportunity to argue that he should receive none or a very little enhancement based on the prior penalty. The commission will take that into consideration.
We've had guys who were busted for the same drug twice, or the same class of drug twice, but I don't think we've ever had a situation the other way. I think if it was marijuana on the first offense and then a diuretic, it would be much more serious. Of course the diuretic is the much more serious violation. Marijuana, the commission treats lighter but they still treat it seriously.
BoxingScene.com: What about in terms of the fine?
Kizer: Normally they try to focus on a certain percentage of the purse. That's going to be a lot of money here. Some of [the commissioners] may say 'that percentage works on a normal purse but here it might be a little high. That's going to be for them to decide
BoxingScene.com: What is the normal percentage?
Kizer: It's anywhere from 25% to 33⅓%. In MMA, there is some times a win bonus, so they take away the win bonus as well. Here there is no win bonus and he didn't win either. There is less harm there I guess. They always refer to their prior rulings and they try to be as consistent as possible but they still recognize that every case still has it's own situation and different factors involved.
The Fernando Vargas penalty was $100,000 dollars. It was a period of leniency and it was a 3% fine. Now the average fine is 30%. A 3% fine goes back to 2002. We showed him some leniency there with the fine, but not with the suspension. He received nine months. [Vargas tested positive for a performance enhancing drug after the TKO loss to Oscar De La Hoya].
BoxingScene.com: When do you expect a hearing on this incident? I know your next [NSAC] meeting date is October 6th.
Kizer: I doubt his attorney would want to do it that quickly. He's not fighting again this year so what's the rush. He has that option, but it's not very long from now. We're probably going to have another meeting at the very end of October, when we pick the officials for the November 10th fights at the Wynn.
I would think that he would be on that one, around the 30th of October. Again, it's really up to him. Usually the fighters take a couple of months with their attorneys, to get what they need in order. The last time we got him for the diuretic, it was a couple of months after the test result came back. I'm guessing the last October meeting or the later November meeting, when we pick the officials for Pacquiao-Marquez.
BoxingScene.com: With [UFC fighter] Nick Diaz, he was also popped in Nevada? [Diaz suspended for a one year period for marijuana and was fined $60,000 dollars - 30% of his $200,000 purse].
Kizer: It was here, twice for the same drug, marijuana. But Nick did some things that came out in the hearing. Before the hearing, he came out and said 'yeah, well I smoked seven days before.' Wait a minute, are you saying that you lied on our pre-fight questionnaire? We asked him if he took anything in the last fifteen days. He basically admitted that he did, so we added basically the equivalent of perjury and that was part of the findings against him. So it wasn't only for testing positive for the marijuana, it was also for lying about it on the form.
The second thing with Nick is that after the fight he drank like two dozen bottles of water, which we later found out from both from his expert, as well as our own, the effect of that could very well have been the intent to lower the level of marijuana in his system to try to get it below the cutoff. It didn't quite work. He was still above the cutoff but the level wasn't very high.
Julio gave us the sample rather quickly after the fight, so there was no attempt to dilute the sample. But the level was rather low comparatively speaking. That does seem to gel, with what I'm understanding, his story [as provided by Top Rank CEO Bob Arum], that he smoked about three weeks before the fight.
BoxingScene.com: What is the normal suspension period for marijuana as a first offense?
Kizer: For marijuana, the first offense - the average is about six months. Sometimes a little bit less. In the past we've had four and five month suspensions, but in the last five years I would say that it was always six months for the first offense.
BoxingScene.com: Going by the statistics of the last five years, and Julio's prior positive for a diuretic, it's safe to say that he would be looking at six months or above?
Kizer: Possibly. If you're going to look at it based on that, that would be a good analysis.