By Gabriel Montoya
On Friday, I was able to speak with Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer regarding Andre Berto's positive test, the status of the rematch and other issues surrounding this latest positive test delivered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.
On the differences and similarities of the Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto positive tests and aftermath:
Richard Schaefer: “I think the two things to look at with these two cases when you compare them. The first one is with Peterson, you knew he was injected with testosterone pellets [writer’s note: Peterson, by several accounts, was only injected once with one pellet.] and failed to report that on numerous occasions. Why he took it I don’t know. I don't want to speculate. The facts are the facts are the facts. Whether he took it knowingly or not knowing what was in it or not in it is really not relevant. The fact is you get an opportunity to disclose what you are taking. If you don't disclose it, you get another opportunity and then if you still don’t do it then obviously that raises serious red flags. I think what happened there . . . the time from when the "A" sample was taken to the time we were actually informed was like three weeks or something like that.”
By the time Schaefer was informed of Peterson’s double positive tests, there was no time to replace the opponent which ended up costing an estimated 1 million dollars. Schaefer continued, focusing on this newest positive drug test.
“That's really interesting now that you look at the Berto situation. The time frame from when the first sample tested positive, sample "A", to the time of the actual fight was going to happen was very close. Yet, this time around I was informed on [May 12] Saturday night by the adviser for Mr. Berto, Al Haymon that the "A" sample had tested positive and that he was going to insure that "B" sample was tested right away no matter what the costs were. Just so that he moved swiftly to immediate testing of the "B" sample. And that "B" sample was tested within a few days. To be exact, last Thursday. And today [Friday May 18] the results came back that the "B" sample tested positive as well. By the way this was handled, it was professional."
"By the way, we were not informed by VADA. I was only informed by VADA today. But even though I was only informed by VADA today, it was basically less than a week from when they found out the "A" sample tested positive. You test the "B" sample and then I found out. So now, in this case, I now have an opportunity to look for a replacement. I can assure you that the event will stay on. And we will find a replacement and Victor Ortiz is going to be fighting June the 23rd at Staples Center. And so will all the other fighters which were scheduled to be on the card and it will be a great night of boxing for Los Angeles. It was unfortunate of course what happened."
"But the way it was handled by Al Haymon, who is a pro, vs. with Peterson, which was very amateurish. The mistakes by VADA the first time around made a bad situation worse because what you did, you really made other people greatly affected by that costing them hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is not right. That is wrong and I said that before and I am going to say it again.”
To that last comment where Mr. Schaefer refers to the contract clause that is in dispute between VADA and Golden Boy: I’m no contract lawyer. I do know an unsigned document might be hard to prove binding, which is what VADA claims they have. Mr. Schaefer is entitled to his legal opinion of the matter which is in the hands of Golden Boy lawyers.
But it should be pointed out to the reader that in Anti-Doping cases, the results of a positive “A” sample is handled differently by every athlete and his team. Case in point: Berto and Peterson. Ryan Braun is another. He never tested his “B” sample and instead won his arbitration on a chain of custody battle. In essence, what Schaefer is upset about, in my opinion, is that there is no rule stating if an athlete who tested positive is stonewalling telling the promoters of a fight, VADA can come in and tell them in order to save a fight card. That is understandable. And that is a problem that should be looked at intelligently.
Mr. Schaefer spoke on what the positive test results as well as Floyd Mayweather, Golden Boy and VADA’s roles in the new wave of drug testing in boxing.
RS: “As I said before, I think what VADA is finding out and these tests that are turning up positive, I think is a good thing that it shows that you can’t take that stuff anymore. You are responsible for what you are taking even if you don’t know what it is. You have to make sure you have the right people around you. And the people around are educated and know what you can take and what you cannot take. And that is exactly what we wanted to do and what Floyd Mayweather wanted to do to clean up the sport of boxing."
"We're not accusing anyone of anything. I realize often that athletes are ignorant. They don’t know what they are taking. And people around are like 'Hey, take this and take that.' But that is not an excuse because if you are the Captain of you ship, you are going to have to take the consequences of who you have around you. I think you have to surround yourself with professionals. Trainers, nutritionist. Strength and conditioning people. Training staff. And that if you do have these hangers on around that are like 'Hey try or try that" they do so at their own risk and they will have to pay the price.”
The price in the case of a boxer who tests positive in a high profile fight is paid by a lot of people. Sooner or later, a penalty precedent will be set which will hopefully become the ultimate deterrent to potential cheaters.
RS: “The price is obviously that there is no fight. There's no income and most likely they are going to be other severe penalties imposed by the athletic commissions. The overall damage to your reputation as an athlete and as a fighter is something that is going to stay for a long time but again this not accusing anybody of anything. But I think what VADA is doing, what Golden Boy is doing, what Floyd Mayweather is doing is I think helping the sport."
"Unfortunately, we now see two in a row. Unfortunate positive tests which have killed two much-anticipated fights. But you know, I think if the result of that, as much as it hurts, as much as it is disappointing, and as much as well feel 'Gee. Not again!’ As much as all of us don’t like to deal with negative issues and negativity, I think we have to look at the positive side here and I think that positive side is that the sport of boxing has finally taken a stand and said ‘You know what? Any performance enhancing drugs have no place in our sport and we are doing something about it. For that, and I have to applaud Floyd Mayweather and I have to applaud the fighters who are willing and hoping to be a part of that. And I have to thank ourselves as well. Obviously, these are expensive lessons.”
And of course, thank VADA.
More on this story as details come in.