By Jake Donovan
Nonito Donaire and Top Rank haven’t always seen eye-to-eye during their time together, now going on six years and counting.
When news broke of the Fil-Am star agreeing to year-round random drug testing, the question was whether or not Top Rank – who has yet to incorporate supplemental drug tests into its events – would be on board with his decision.
The answer to that question is an emphatic yes.
“I talked to Victor Conte and I told him we back this 100%,” promoter Bob Arum told Boxingscene.com on Monday evening. “We are going to talk to our fighters and have them all enroll in this program.”
Random drug testing once played a major role in the failed negotiations between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Most of the terms were reached for the fight that was thought to take place in the first quarter of 2010, until Mayweather Jr. demanded that both fighters undergo testing separate from what is normally provided by the state athletic commissions. Pacquiao and Top Rank rejected the demand, and the fight has since never come any closer to becoming a reality.
Mayweather Jr. has used USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) for all fights since – wins over Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto. The program leaves fighters subject to random testing at any point from the moment contracts are signed all the way until fight fight. The drawback is the cost – estimated in the neighborhood of $100,000.
A more affordable program has since come along in VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency), which Donaire has fully endorsed. The move makes sense, as the four-division world champion regularly works with renowned nutritionist Victor Conte, an independent adviser of the organization. Still, Conte works with several fighters, none of whom have gone all in as Donaire has in recent days.
The 24/7/365 involvement not only comes with the full blessing of Arum and his Top Rank company, but has prompted the Hall of Fame promoter to begin spreading the word to all of the fighters under his massive stable. What he likes most about the program – along with it being cost-effective – is its mission to raise awareness to fighters of the right way to train and the proper supplements to use.
“It makes all of the sense in the world. You test them all year. Rather than it being a “gotcha” program that simply catches cheats, the fighters are made aware of what to put and not put into their body. As part of this, we’ll educate the fighters.”
Arum believes that it was a lack of understanding that led to recent positive test results for Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto, both of whom participated in random drug testing conducted by VADA. Peterson was caught with synthetic testosterone in his system, to which the fighter admitted he began taking as early as last October, prior to his upset win over Amir Khan.
The two were set for a May 19 rematch, only for Peterson’s failed test results to kill the bout close enough to fight night to where the entire show was canceled.
Berto was recently popped for traces of nandrolone in his system, which ruined plans for an already rescheduled rematch with Victor Ortiz. The test later revealed the possibility of the trace coming from ingested meat rather than a willing injection, though he was already replaced by Josesito Lopez for the June 23 date with Ortiz.
The credibility of both Peterson and Ortiz came into question, but Arum went on record a couple of weeks ago claiming the he doesn’t suspect either fighter of being a cheat. He indirectly reiterated such beliefs when further speaking on his support of the VADA program.
“One of the problems I see is that the fighters aren’t cheating but inadvertently using the wrong supplements, with traces of steroids and testosterone. We’ll educate them on the proper things to put in their body. I think it’s a great thing.
“It’s intelligent and I think they’re going to suggest to the ABC that the results be shared with the fighter and the committee with the ABC. Now we get to a sensible solution with testing without the bullsh*t and $100,000 payments to USADA.”
Arum has never made it a secret that he is not at all a fan of the USADA, which has regularly been used by Mayweather Jr. and is now the testing company du jour for Golden Boy Promotions. Top Rank believes that VADA is not only far more affordable but also more beneficial to the fighters it tests.
How soon they will begin using the company for their own fights is not yet immediately known. The announcement from Donaire comes too late to go into effect for his next fight, as he faces fellow 122 lb. titlist Jeffrey Mathebula on July 7.
However, his own year-round testing will begin immediately after the fight. Perhaps by then, Arum will have been able to get several more of his own fighters on board. If they need further convincing that the program is for their own benefit, he has some “kosher” advice to pass along to the company.
“With Kosher products, they are all stamped with a capital U,” explains Arum, speaking of the ‘U’ in a circle, which means the product is blessed by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregation. “I’m going to suggest that the fighters be tested all year, their paperwork gets a capital V from VADA to make it clear that they’re certified clean fighters.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected] .