by Michael Marley
USADA's zealot bossman, the lawyer Travis Tygart, is on a summer vacation but I was able to speak at length with the drug testing agency's media relations manager, Annie Skinner, twice on Monday concerning Manny Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum's proclamation that his side will accept fully random blood testing for a possible mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. - if WADA, the world anti-doping organization handles it.
There is a continuing perception in the Pacman camp, according to Arum, that the Tygart-led agency, based in Colorado Springs, is uncomfortably close with American Mayweather. Such raw feelings have been made worse by Tygart's public references to Mayweather as "the clean athlete."
In Tygart's absence, Skinner assured me that USADA does not prejudge whether any athlete, domestic or foreign, is cheating by using banned drugs. Allegations have continually been made about Pacquiao using EPO and maybe other banned substances although no one has ever come up with a scintilla of evidence. Meanwhile, Pacman's defemation lawsuit against "Money" Mayweather continues.
"We certainly do not have a bias against any athlete," Skinner said. "We do not have a bias (favoring) one athlete over another. All athletes are presumed to be clean until such time as they are proven otherwise.
"But, when it comes to drug testing, USADA, which is a signatory to WADA rules, regulations and procedures, is the gold standard for sports in the United States. We completely adhere to all the international standards as promulgated by WADA."
She said that perhaps Arum has a misperception of how WADA operates, explaining "does not do any actual testing, they do not have the infrastructure to do that. You take (world soccer body) FIFA, the Swimming Federation and others...they are all signatories to WADA. What WADA does is contract out (the testing) to recognized doping control agencies in the different countries."
I asked Skinner if hypothetically a third party doping control laboratory or organization might be agreed to, thus overcoming Team Pacquiao's objections to USADA, which Arum branded as "not neutral" in this matter.
"No other organization in the US does the type of gold standard testing that that we do. Personally, at least, I've never heard of any third party organization that performs the WADA approved standards to the same degree that we do," Skinner said.
Obviously, the two camps could make an agreement as to a different testing agency if they chose to do so.
With a bonanza fight in which it is speculated that both Mayweather and Pacquiao can gross up to $50 million, you would think that there is some middle ground that the two fighter's camps can reach here.
Does anyone think that Joe Fan really gives a hoot as which anti-doping agency does the testing as long it is all done fair and impartially?
Has Arum moved the ball forward here or is this going to further block the so-called "Dream Fight."
It could turn out to be that in the ring and in the final money count but with constantly failed and stalled negotiations it continues to be a nightmare to make.