golden boy usada PED coverup?
golden boy usada PED coverup?
Nov 20 2012, 12:40 PM
Joined: 17-February 12
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The PED Mess: Part One
By Thomas Hauser maxboxing
On December 30, 2009, Manny Pacquiao sued Floyd Mayweather Jr., Floyd Sr. (Floyd’s father), Roger Mayweather (Floyd’s uncle and trainer), Mayweather Promotions, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer and Oscar De la Hoya for defamation. Pacquiao’s complaint, filed in the United States District Court of Nevada, alleged that each of the defendants had falsely accused him of using, and continuing to use, illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Mayweather has gone to great lengths to position himself in the public mind as a “clean” fighter. For his three most recent fights (against Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto), he has mandated that he and his opponent be subjected to what he calls “Olympic-style testing” by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
USADA is an independent non-governmental sports drug-testing agency whose services are utilized by the United States Olympic and Paralympic movement. It receives approximately $10,000,000 annually in public funding, more in years when the Olympics are held. USADA was paid a reported $100,000 per fight for the drug-testing services it performed in conjunction with Mayweather’s outings.
Victor Conte is one of the most knowledgeable people in sports with regard to the use of, and testing for, performance-enhancing drugs. In 1984, Conte founded the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), which was at the heart of several much-publicized PED scandals. In 2005, he pled guilty to charges of illegal steroid distribution and tax fraud and spent four months in prison. After being released from incarceration, Conte moved to the side of the angels and is now a formidable advocate for “clean” sport.
“Mayweather is not doing Olympic-style testing,” Conte states. “I’ve never liked the use of that phrase. ‘Olympic’ means 24-7-365. To be effective, drug testing has to be 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The benefits that an athlete retains from using anabolic steroids and certain other PEDs carry over for months. That means athletes can develop their strength and speed base early and the benefits of PED use will last after that use has been discontinued. If you wait to start testing until eight to 10 weeks in advance of a fight, which is what Mayweather does, that’s not Olympic-style testing. Who knows what Mayweather or his opponent has been doing during the previous six months?”
Tests for a Mayweather fight generally begin around the time of the kick-off press tour heralding Floyd’s annual ring appearance. Floyd and his opponent agree to keep USADA advised as to their whereabouts and submit to an unlimited number of unannounced blood and urine tests. Other details (such as what drugs are being tested for, how samples are analyzed and what happens in the event of a positive test) are murky.
Mayweather and his promoter (Golden Boy Promotions) have gone to great lengths to propagate the notion that they’re in the forefront of PED testing to “clean up” boxing. In return, they’ve reaped a public relations bonanza. But some members of Team Mayweather haven’t been content to simply disseminate a positive message with regard to Floyd’s conduct. They’ve chosen instead to brand Pacquiao (Mayweather’s chief rival) as a PED user.
Floyd Mayweather Sr. declared, “[Pacquiao] can’t beat Clottey without that sh*t in him. He couldn’t beat De la Hoya without that sh*t. He couldn’t beat Ricky Hatton without that sh*t. And he couldn’t beat Cotto without that sh*t. I don’t even think he could beat that kid from Chicago [David Diaz] without that sh*t. He wouldn’t be able to beat any of those guys without enhancement drugs.”
Not to be outdone, Roger Mayweather proclaimed, “This mother**ker don’t want to take the test. That’s why the fight [Mayweather vs. Pacquiao] didn’t happen. He got that sh*t in him. That’s why he didn’t want to take the test.”
References to Pacquiao’s alleged PED use by the other defendants in the defamation action were more subtle. But their message was similar.
The court case moved slowly as litigation often does. Last year, the claims against Schaefer and De la Hoya were dismissed with the consent of Pacquiao’s attorneys after Richard and Oscar apologized and stated that they had never meant to suggest that Manny was using performance-enhancing drugs.
The Mayweathers continued to fight the complaint. Floyd’s conduct in failing to appear for a scheduled deposition on several occasions displeased the court and infuriated Pacquiao’s attorneys. The case looked like it would be a long battle of attrition. Then things changed dramatically.
Under standard sports drug-testing protocols, when blood or urine is taken from an athlete, it’s divided into an “A” and “B” sample. The “A” sample is tested first. If it tests negative, end of story. If the “A” sample tests positive, the athlete then has the right to demand that the “B” sample be tested. If the “B” sample tests negative, the athlete is presumed to be clean. But if the “B” sample also tests positive, the first positive finding is confirmed and the athlete has a problem.
On May 20, 2012, a rumor filtered through the drug-testing community that Mayweather had tested positive on three occasions for an illegal performance-enhancing drug.
More specifically, it was rumored that Mayweather’s “A” sample had tested positive on three occasions and, after each positive test, USADA had found exceptional circumstances in the form of inadvertent use and gave Floyd a waiver. This waiver, according to the rumor, negated the need for a test of Floyd’s “B” sample. And because the “B” sample was never tested, a loophole in USADA’s contract with Mayweather and Golden Boy allowed the testing to proceed without the positive “A” sample results being reported to Mayweather’s opponent or the Nevada State Athletic Commission (which had jurisdiction over the fights).
In late-May, Pacquiao’s attorneys heard the rumor. On June 4, 2012, they served document demands and subpoenas on Mayweather, Mayweather Promotions, Golden Boy and USADA calling for the production of all documents that related to PED testing of Mayweather for the Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto fights.
The documents were not produced. There was a delay in the proceedings while Floyd spent nine weeks in the Clark County Detention Center after pleading guilty to charges of domestic violence and harassment. Upon his release from jail on August 2nd, settlement talks heated up.
On September 25, 2012, a stipulation of settlement ending the defamation case was filed with the court. The parties agreed that the terms of settlement would be kept confidential. Prior to the agreement being signed, two sources with detailed knowledge of the proceedings told this writer that Mayweather’s initial monetary settlement offer was “substantially more” than Pacquiao’s attorneys had expected it would be and an agreement in principle was reached soon afterward.
As part of the settlement, the Mayweathers and Mayweather Promotions issued a statement that read: “Floyd Mayweather Jr., Floyd Mayweather Sr., Roger Mayweather and Mayweather Promotions wish to make it clear that they never intended to claim that Manny Pacquiao has used or is using any performance-enhancing drugs nor are they aware of any evidence that Manny Pacquiao has used performance-enhancing drugs. Manny Pacquiao is a great champion and no one should construe any of our prior remarks as claiming that Manny Pacquiao has used performance-enhancing drugs.”
I don’t know if Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao has used performance-enhancing drugs or not.
I do know that, if Mayweather’s “A” sample tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug on one or more occasions and he was given a waiver by USADA that concealed this fact from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, his opponent and the public, we have an ingredient that could contribute to the making of a scandal.
Any analysis of PED use and boxing should start with the acknowledgement that chemistry is now part of sports.
We know certain things about the use of illegal, performance-enhancing drugs:
(1) PEDs offer more than a shortcut. They take an athlete to a place that he or she might not be able to get to without them. When undertaken in conjunction with proper exercise and training, the use of PEDs creates a better athlete.
(2) PED use is often difficult to detect.Sophisticated users evade detection in the face of rigorous testing. The more money an athlete spends, the less detectible PED use is. Also, in many instances, the testing is erratic, inadequate and even corrupt. Three years ago, Victor Conte declared, “Boxing’s testing program is beyond a joke. It’s worthless. The loopholes are so big that you could drive a Mack truck through them. Many of the people who are supposed to be regulating this don’t want to know.” Now Conte says, “In some respects, things have gotten worse.”
(3) PED use is more prevalent in boxing now than ever before, particularly at the elite level. For many fighters, the prevailing ethic seems to be, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”Fighters are reconfiguring their bodies and, in some instances, look like totally different physical beings. In a clean world, fighters don’t get older, heavier and faster at the same time, but that’s what’s happening in boxing. Improved performances at an advanced age are becoming common. Fighters at age 35 are outperforming what they could do when they were 30. In some instances, fighters are starting to perform at an elite level at an age when they would normally be expected to be on a downward slide.
(4) The use of PEDs threatens the short term and long term health of the user. It’s illegal and gives an athlete who uses them an unfair competitive advantage. It also endangers fighters who are getting hit in the head harder than before by opponents.
Earlier this year, a handful of high-profile cases became part of boxing’s PED dialogue.
On May 4, 2012, WBA/IBF 140-pound champion Lamont Peterson learned that his “A” and “B” urine samples had tested positive for the presence of an anabolic steroid. Peterson had been scheduled to defend his titles in a rematch against Amir Khan. The fight was canceled.
Two weeks later, the “A” and “B” urine samples of WBC 147-pound champion Andre Berto tested positive for Norandrosterone (an anabolic steroid). Berto was slated to defend his belt against Victor Ortiz. That fight was also canceled.
On June 22nd, it was revealed that, subsequent to Antonio Tarver’s June 2nd fight in California against Lateef Kayode, Tarver’s pre-fight urine sample had tested positive for the anabolic steroid Drostanolone. On fight night, the bout had been declared a draw. The result was changed to “no contest.”
Finally, on October 18th, two days before Erik Morales’s scheduled rematch against Danny Garcia for the latter’s WBA and WBC titles, word leaked to the media that Morales had tested positive for Clenbuterol. Initially, the public was led to believe by the promotion that only Morales’s “A” sample had tested positive and there was a need for his “B” sample to be tested (which couldn’t be done until after the fight). Then it was learned that Morales had been tested on two occasions earlier in the month and, each time, both his “A” and “B” samples had tested positive. Despite that revelation, Garcia vs. Morales II was allowed to take place.
In seeking out the truth behind the aforementioned matters, this writer interviewed dozens of participants and observers. Two people of note declined to be interviewed.
Richard Schaefer sent a November 1st email that read in part, “We are trying to do something positive and yet it seems that media and others are attacking us. It would be easy for us to do nothing just like all other promoters. But by trying to support the fighters’ desire for additional testing, we are getting criticized.”
Beyond that, Schaefer chose not to discuss the issues involved. Instead, his email referenced my relationships with Dr. Margaret Goodman and Maxboxing’s own Gabriel Montoya and stated, “I consider you a friend and really don’t want this Margaret Goodman, Gabriel Montoya vs. Golden Boy witch hunt to affect our relationship. I have my opinion about Margaret and Gabriel, and you have yours. I respect your opinion, and I hope you respect mine.”
Dr. Goodman was once chief ringside physician for the Nevada State Athletic Commission. She is now president and board chairperson of a drug-testing organization known as VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency).The drug tests on Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto that came back positive were carried out under the supervision of VADA.
Dr. Goodman is a friend. We’ve talked at length over the years about medical issues and boxing. She has been a valuable resource to me in my writing. We’ve also shared thoughts and offered advice to each other on a variety of subjects, both personal and professional.
Gabriel Montoya has written a series of significant articles on the use of PEDs in boxing. Earlier this year, I spoke with Schaefer on Montoya’s behalf after Gabriel was denied access and credentials for certain Golden Boy events. I also spoke with Montoya about his problems with Golden Boy and what might be done to remedy the situation. Gabriel is a casual acquaintance.
I should add that, although I sometimes disagree with things that Richard Schaefer has done (just as he sometimes disagrees with what I write), I admire his skills and we’ve maintained a cordial relationship over the years.
USADA CEO Travis Tygart also declined to be interviewed for this article and instructed that questions be addressed to USADA’s media relations manager, Annie Skinner. On November 2nd, this writer sent a series of preliminary questions to Ms. Skinner. There was no response.
At this point, it makes sense to take a closer look at the recent positive drug tests referenced earlier in this article.
In March 2012, Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan submitted applications to VADA pursuant to which their blood and urine were tested in conjunction with their scheduled May 19th fight. The first samples were taken on March 19th, the only day on which the fighters knew in advance that they would be tested.
On April 12th, VADA was advised by the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory that Peterson’s “A” sample had tested positive consistent with the administration of an anabolic steroid. On April 13th, the Peterson camp was notified of that fact by FedEx and email. In keeping with VADA’s protocols, Peterson was given one week to challenge the “A” test result and ask for his “B” sample to be tested with one of his representatives present.
The Peterson team waited eight days (until April 21st) to respond. Then it chose to challenge the positive test result, asserted its right to be present when the “B” sample was tested, and asked that the “B” sample be tested on Friday, April 27th. The UCLA laboratory advised VADA that Friday was an inappropriate day to begin testing because four consecutive days were needed to complete the test.
The testing of Peterson’s “B” sample began on Monday, April 30th. On May 3rd, VADA was advised by the laboratory that this sample had also tested positive. The Peterson camp was so notified by FedEx and email on May 4th. That same day, VADA also sent a letter by FedEx and fax to Keith Kizer (Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission) stating the facts of the matter.
The Peterson-Khan rematch was canceled.
Richard Schaefer was livid at the way in which drug testing for Peterson-Khan II unfolded. Golden Boy was to have promoted the fight, and he felt that VADA should have notified him as soon as Peterson’s “A” sample tested positive.
Margaret Goodman says that, after Peterson’s “A” sample tested positive, she asked Lamont’s attorney (Jeff Fried) whether there was an agreement between Peterson and Golden Boy that authorized VADA to release the “A” test results to the promoter. Fried told her that no such authorization existed.
Ryan Connolly is counsel for VADA. In the late 1990s, he was the business manager for the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory. He’s now an attorney in private practice with an expertise in PED testing in the context of competitive sports. In that role, he oversaw the process outlined in a May 10th document titled “Statement of VADA.”
“When VADA became involved with the Peterson-Khan fight,” that statement reads, “the individual athletes signed up for the VADA program and executed the proper documentation. VADA was told that GBP [Golden Boy Promotions] also wanted a contract so that GBP would be authorized to receive the testing results, including the preliminary results from an ‘A’ sample analysis. In order for VADA to release the preliminary ‘A’ sample results to a third party such as GBP, VADA requires an executed authorization allowing us to do so. VADA sent GBP a draft contract for its signature which would have authorized the preliminary ‘A’ sample results to be released to GBP. This initial draft, which was never signed, contained a clause pursuant to which GBP would have represented that it had obtained the necessary authorization from the fighters. GBP’s legal team rejected this clause and instead suggested making the fighters signatories to the contract with their signatures being the necessary authorization. VADA’s counsel made it clear to GBP that, if GBP wanted to handle it this way, GBP must take responsibility for obtaining the athlete’s signatures. Unfortunately, GBP never obtained the signatures.The bottom line is that VADA had no contract with GBP. This is not a mere technicality. It involves issues of medical ethics. VADA needed a signed contract in order to deviate from its Results Management Policy (posted on our website) and release the preliminary and personal medical information to a third party.VADA would have been happy to inform GBP of the preliminary ‘A’ results. But we needed a signed authorization allowing us to do so, which we never received. VADA has complied in every way with all signed contracts that we had and will continue to do so.”
Dr. Goodman elaborates on that theme, saying, “As per our contracts and protocols, VADA gives certain test results to the athletic commission in any jurisdiction where the fighter holds a license or a request for a license is pending. We also release certain results to FightFax, the Association of Boxing Commissions, and whomever else the athlete asks us to release them to. We’d be happy to release any and all results to a fighter’s promoter, but we need an authorization from the fighter to do so. That‘s the law and those are the terms in the Results Management Policy posted on the VADA website.”
As a postscript, the Peterson camp later claimed that Lamont had tested positive because of the surgical implantation of “testosterone pellets” to correct a testosterone deficiency known as hypogonadism.
That led Ryan Connolly to observe that more than a few elite athletes suffer from hypogonadism and note, “This may seem odd since these athletes are physical specimens. How can they be so muscular and fit but have natural testosterone production deficiencies at a higher rate than ordinary people? The dirty little secret is not necessarily that these athletes are lying about their hypogonadism. The dirty little secret is the likely cause of the hypogonadism in the first place - past anabolic steroid abuse.”
Meanwhile, even before the Peterson controversy subsided, a new controversy was brewing. Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz had submitted applications for VADA testing in advance of their scheduled June 23, 2012 fight. On May 11th, Dr. Goodman was advised by the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory that an “A” sample urine specimen taken from Berto had tested positive for norandrosterone (an anabolic steroid) at a level above the permitted amount.
On May 12th, following VADA protocols, Goodman notified the Berto camp. Berto was advised by FedEx. Tony Morgan (Berto’s trainer, who had been listed on notice forms as a designated recipient of information) was advised of the finding by email, as was Al Haymon (Berto’s manager).
Dr. Goodman’s email to each recipient read in part, “VADA urges you to immediately notify Golden Boy Promotions [the lead promoter on the fight], DiBella Entertainment [Berto’s promoter], and the California State Athletic Commission of this positive “A” sample finding by forwarding each party a copy of this notification so that it is received by each party as quickly as possible but no later than 3:00 p.m. on Monday, May 14th. Please confirm to VADA in writing that you have forwarded a copy to each party by that time.”
The requested confirmation was not forthcoming. Instead, on May 14th, Dr. Goodman received a letter from Howard Jacobs (an attorney retained by Berto), who warned that telling anyone other than Berto’s representatives about the “A” sample positive could result in “civil liability on the part of VADA.”
On May 15th, Goodman sent an email to Al Haymon that read, “Dear Al, as you are aware, Mr. Berto has asserted a medical privilege insofar as VADA is concerned. I would think that you will be held personally accountable by Golden Boy Promotions and DiBella Entertainment for your failure to notify them of this issue in a timely manner. Please advise us with regard to whether or not you have notified GBP and DBE. Thank you, Margaret Goodman.”
There was no response.
That same day, Ryan Connolly sent an email to Howard Jacobs urging similar notification.
On May 18th, Dr. Goodman was advised by the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory that Berto’s “B” sample urine specimen had tested positive. VADA then notified Berto, his designated representatives, and the California State Athletic Commission.
Haymon, in turn, notified Richard Schaefer. Lou DiBella says that, despite the fact that he was Berto’s promoter, neither Schaefer nor Haymon advised him that Andre’s “A” and “B” samples had tested positive until plans were underway to replace Berto as an opponent for Victor Ortiz with Josesito Lopez (another Haymon fighter, who was promoted by Golden Boy in conjunction with Goossen Tutor).
“How do you think that makes me feel?” DiBella asked rhetorically. “I raised the issue with Al afterward, and he didn’t say anything. That told me all I needed to know.”
Haymon, like Richard Schaefer and Travis Tygart, declined to be interviewed for this article.
Berto later told RingTvOnline, “To all of my fans who have been supportive, you know, everybody who knows me, they know that everything that I’ve always accomplished has just been through hard work. And when it comes to the positive test, that was just a situation that was unfortunate. It was a situation that didn’t get properly explained to the public on what it was and what caused it. I believe that’s what really made an uproar about everything. You know, like I’ve said, I’ve never been a cheater. Never have and never will. I’ve never injected anything in any type of situation at all. So when it comes up as a positive test, it didn’t have anything to do with any type of drug enhancement or any type of testosterone or EPO or none of that type of stuff that a lot of guys probably use. It was, after we got the positive test, we just needed to know what it was because we knew that everything that we were doing was straightforward. After they put the news out, that’s when we found out exactly what it was. Then I had to go through all of the right processes and the hiring of the lawyers and things like that. So it was basically just taking my sample test and just really proving the fact that it was a contamination of something. I couldn’t believe it happened the way it did with no explanation for it to the press or the public. The way it was put out there without explaining exactly what it was and how much upset me. Nothing was really explained to the public.”
There’s a bit of hypocrisy there. Berto expressed unhappiness that news of his positive tests “was put out there without explaining exactly what it was…to the public.” But as previously noted, his own lawyer had made it clear to VADA that the dissemination of information to third parties should be kept to a minimum under threat of civil liability on the part of VADA.
Given Golden Boy’s professed commitment to making boxing a clean sport, Richard Schaefer might have been expected to commend VADA for its findings with regard to Peterson and Berto. Instead, he seemed intent on attacking Dr. Goodman and VADA.
On May 22nd, Arnold Joseph, counsel for Golden Boy, sent a letter to Goodman stating Golden Boy’s intention to sue VADA for not notifying the promoter that Peterson’s “A” sample had tested positive, a failure that Joseph claimed was magnified by VADA reporting the “B” sample positive to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and not to Golden Boy.
To date, no lawsuit has been filed. But three days later, Golden Boy terminated a column on medical issues that Goodman had written monthly for The Ring magazine (now owned by Golden Boy) since 2004.
“I guess the only question I have is why it took so long for Richard to fire me,” Dr. Goodman said afterward. “Once Golden Boy bought the magazine, I was told I couldn’t cover certain topics like more insurance coverage for catastrophic injuries suffered by fighters. Michael Rosenthal [the editor who replaced Nigel Collins at The Ring] is a great guy. He’s been very supportive but I could see the writing on the wall. You know, the first column I wrote for Ring eight years ago was about Fernando Vargas testing positive for Winstrol. It was called ‘JUICED!’ How ironic is that?”
At the same time Golden Boy was attacking Margaret Goodman, it also took aim at Gabriel Montoya.
Montoya, as previously noted, has written a number of articles on the use of PEDs in boxing. On May 20, 2012, a source with extensive knowledge in the area of drug testing told him he believed Floyd Mayweather had tested positive on three occasions for performance-enhancing drugs and that, in each instance, the test results had been covered up by Golden Boy and USADA.
Montoya did what a responsible journalist is supposed to do. He began to question people in boxing and the world of PED testing about the rumors. On May 23rd, he received a letter from Jeffrey Spitz (an attorney for Golden Boy).
Montoya says that the Spitz letter mischaracterized the nature of his investigation. There was no mistaking the fact that the letter accused him of making false and defamatory statements with regard to Golden Boy and threatened legal action against him.
“There was an earlier time when Golden Boy wouldn’t credential me for its fights because I sent out some tweets that Oscar didn’t like,” Montoya recounts. “But I spoke with Schaefer and we worked past that. Then I started looking into the issue of Floyd’s drug tests. I got the threatening letter from Spitz, which I posted on Maxboxing. And I was banned again from Golden Boy fights.”
For example, Montoya was told he would be credentialed for the June 30th fight card headlined by Cornelius Bundrage vs. Cory Spinks at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. Then, on June 29th, he received an email from Anndee Laskoe (public relations manager for the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians), who wrote, “I have been asked by Golden Boy Promotions to remove your name from the press credential list for the June 30th fights at Fantasy Springs. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.”
Golden Boy publicists Monica Sears and Ramiro Gonzalez were copied on the email.
Golden Boy did credential Montoya for at least one subsequent show.
Meanwhile, other troubling incidents were brewing.
In mid-May, Winky Wright was preparing to fight Peter Quillin in a June 2nd bout promoted by Golden Boy at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
“Everybody kept popping up positive for all this stuff,” Wright told Montoya. “Boxing isn’t always a fair game. I figured I should get this [testing] too. So I called Golden Boy and said, ‘Why we ain’t doing it?’ They was like ‘Uh, etcetera, etcetera, this and this and that, and someone didn’t want to pay.’ I said ‘Okay; I’m going to pay for it. I just want to play on the same field.’”
Wright and Quillin entered into a May 21, 2012 contract with Golden Boy and USADA pursuant to which USADA was to provide drug testing services in conjunction with their fight.
“I didn’t know the difference between [USADA and VADA].” Wright says. “I just told Golden Boy I wanted to be tested and they came back with USADA.”
On or about May 23rd, USADA collected blood and urine samples from Quillin. Wright gave samples on May 24th.
“They came to my house at six in the morning,” Winky recalls. “They took urine, blood, everything.”
Then, without warning, Wright was told that the testing was off.
“I think it was like two days later,” Winky told Gabriel Montoya. “Golden Boy called and told Damian [Ramirez, Wright’s manager], and Damian told me. I don’t understand it. All I’m asking is, ‘How do you take urine and take blood and then, all of sudden, you say you aren’t going to test it?’ Then they tried to make up an excuse and say they wanted to teach us. There ain’t nothing to teach. They took blood. They told us we would take a test and either come up positive or negative. That’s it. All I want to know is, are we playing on the same field? So my lawyer called and asked for it to be tested and they told him they threw it out. They told my attorney they threw it out. That’s crazy. Why would they throw it out? They just finished [taking samples] and they’re going to throw it out already? Does this sound crazy? We gave samples. Let’s test that and let me see the result. They threw it out. I just don’t understand that.”
Quillin-Wright went ahead as planned with Quillin winning a unanimous 10-round decision. Quillin, like Andre Berto and Floyd Mayweather, is managed by Al Haymon.
The contract that Wright and Quillin entered into with Golden Boy and USADA specifically provided, “USADA will be responsible for storing the samples after collection and transporting them safely and securely to a laboratory for analysis…USADA will send all samples for analysis to a WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] accredited laboratory under contract to USADA…USADA shall maintain Sample Collection Documentation, including test results for testing conducted under this Master Agreement, for a period of six years.”
“The destruction of samples isn’t supposed to happen,” Ryan Connolly states. “If that happened in an Olympic context, it would set off alarms in a lot of places. There would likely be a thorough investigation by the International Olympic Committee and WADA.”
Victor Conte adds, “The trend in drug-testing now is to save samples longer than before, not pour them down the drain.”
But the worst was yet to come.
Nov 20 2012, 12:41 PM
Joined: 17-February 12
Member No.: 13,547
The PED Mess: Part Two
By Thomas Hauser
Scott Hale runs a small website called HaleStormSports.com. On Thursday, October 18, 2012, at approximately 8:30 a.m. Pacific Coast Time, Hale got a telephone call from a source in New York who told him that Erik Morales (who was scheduled to fight Danny Garcia two days later on a Golden Boy Promotions card at Barclays Center in Brooklyn) had tested positive for a banned substance.
“I knew they were about to start the [final pre-fight] press conference,” Hale recalls, “and I assumed the fight would be canceled. Four hours later, I went online and saw that the fight was still on and the story hadn’t broken. So I made some follow-up calls and a second source confirmed the story. Then a third source called me to confirm, but I still didn’t know what the drug was.”
“At that point,” Hale continues, “I called USADA and Golden Boy. Neither of them would confirm the story. One of my partners called the New York State Athletic Commission. They said they didn’t know anything about it, but our sources were solid. All three of them are reliable. So we decided to go with the story.”
The snowball rolled from there.
Initially, Golden Boy and USADA engaged in damage control.
Dan Rafael of ESPN.com spoke with two sources and wrote, “The reason the fight has not been called off, according to one of the sources, is because Morales’s ‘A’ sample tested positive but the results of the ‘B’ sample test likely won’t be available until after the fight. ‘[USADA] said it could be a false positive,’ one of the sources with knowledge of the disclosure said. ‘But from what I understand, they won’t know until the test on the ‘B’ sample comes back. That probably won’t be until after the fight.’”
Richard Schaefer told Chris Mannix of SI.com, “USADA has now started the process. The process will play out. There is not going to be a rush to judgment. Morales is a legendary fighter. And really, nobody deserves a rush to judgment. You are innocent until proven guilty.”
Also on Thursday, Schaefer told Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com, “I think what is important here is that there is not going to be a witch hunt against Erik Morales. Let’s allow the process to play out.”
The New York State Athletic Commission was blindsided on the Morales matter. The first notice it received came in a three-way telephone conversation with representatives of Golden Boy and USADA after the Thursday press conference. In that conversation, the commission was told there were “some questionable test results” for Morales but that testing of Morales’s “B” sample would not be available until after the fight.
Then, on Friday (one day before the scheduled fight), Keith Idec revealed on BoxingScene.com that samples had been taken from Morales on at least three occasions. Final results from the samples taken on October 17th were not in yet. But both the “A” and “B” samples taken from Morales on October 3rd and October 10th had tested positive for Clenbuterol. In other words, Morales had tested positive for Clenbuterol four times.
Clenbuterol is widely used by bodybuilders and athletes. It helps the body increase its metabolism and process the conversion of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into useful energy. It also boosts muscle growth and eliminates excess fats caused by the use of certain steroids.
Under the WADA code, no amount of Clenbuterol is allowed in a competitor’s body. The measure is qualitative, not quantitative. Either Clenbuterol is there or it’s not. If it’s there, the athlete has a problem.
After the positive tests were revealed, Morales claimed that he’d inadvertently ingested Clebuterol by eating contaminated meat. No evidence was offered in support of that contention.
Nor was any explanation forthcoming as to why USADA kept taking samples from Morales after four tests (two “A” samples and two “B” samples from separate collections) came back positive. Giving Morales those additional tests was like giving someone who has been arrested for driving while intoxicated a second and third blood test a week after the arrest. The whole idea behind “cycling” is that it enables an athlete to use illegal PEDs, stop using them at a predetermined point in time, and then test clean in the days leading up to an event. A fighter shouldn’t be given the opportunity to test again and again until he tests clean.
Also, Richard Schaefer vigorously attacked Dr. Margaret Goodman and VADA for not advising him that Lamont Peterson’s “A” sample had come back positive. But not only did Schaefer fail to notify Lou DiBella (Andre Berto’s promoter) in a timely manner that Berto had tested positive for Norandrosterone, Schaefer didn’t tell the New York State Athletic Commission in a timely manner that Morales had tested positive for Clenbuterol. Rather, it appears as though the commission and the public were deliberately misled with regard to the testing and how many tests Morales had failed.
The moment that the “B” sample from Morales’s first test came back positive, that information should have been forwarded to the New York State Athletic Commission. The fact that USADA had positive test results from two “A” and two “B” samples and didn’t transmit those results to the NYSAC raises serious questions regarding USADA’s credibility.
WOULD USADA HANDLE THE TESTING OF AN OLYMPIC ATHLETE THE WAY IT HANDLED THE MORALES TESTING?
“The Erik Morales case is a travesty,” says Victor Conte. “Golden Boy and USADA seem to have made up a new set of rules without telling anyone what they are. What are the rules? Explain yourself, please! In ‘Olympic-style testing,’ you don’t have an ‘A’ sample and a ‘B’ sample test positive, and then another ‘A’ sample and ‘B’ sample test positive, and keep testing until you get a negative. What happened with Erik Morales should put everything that USADA and Golden Boy have done in boxing under a microscope. This is more than suspicious to me. It’s outrageous.”
Incredibly, Garcia-Morales II was allowed to proceed. This, in effect, amounted to a “Get out of Jail Free” card for Garcia. Morales, a heavy underdog, was knocked out in the fourth round. But had Erik won the fight, the positive drug tests (which had been concealed prior to the leak on Halestorm Sports) could have been used to overturn the result and give Garcia back his belts.
Garcia is managed by Al Haymon and is considered by Golden Boy to be one of its future stars.
Since the Morales incident, people in the PED-testing community have begun to question the curious role played in boxing by USADA. When someone hears “USADA testing,” the assumption is that it’s legitimate. In that light, the reports that Erik Morales’s “A” and “B” samples tested positive for Clenbuterol on two occasions without notification to the New York State Athletic Commission are extremely troubling.
Don Catlin founded the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory in 1982 and is one of the founders of modern drug testing in sports.
“USADA should not enter into a contract that doesn’t call for it to report positive test results to the appropriate governing body.” Catlin states. “If it’s true that USADA reported the results [in the Morales case] to Golden Boy and not to the governing state athletic commission, that’s a recipe for deception.”
When asked about the possibility of withholding notification because of inadvertent use (such as eating contaminated meat), Catlin declares, “No! The International Olympic Committee allowed for those waivers 25 years ago, and it didn’t work. An athlete takes a steroid, tests positive, and then claims it was inadvertent. No one says, ‘I was cheating. You caught me.’”
But more importantly, Catlin says, “USADA is a testing organization. USADA should not be making decisions regarding waivers and exemptions. That would make USADA judge and jury.”
Ryan Connolly is in accord and adds, “There is no such thing in the Olympic world as an inadvertent use waiver. Athletes are strictly liable for what they put in their bodies. Inadvertent use might affect the length of an athlete’s suspension, but the athlete would still be disqualified from the competition that he, or she, was being tested for.”
“I’m not sure what rules USADA is following,” Connolly continues, “but under WADA protocols, you wouldn’t see samples being destroyed and you wouldn’t see retests for Clenbuterol positives.”
In other words, USADA seems to have one set of rules for testing Olympic athletes and another set of rules when it tests fighters for Golden Boy.
“It looks to me like USADA and Golden Boy are making up the rules as they go along,” says Victor Conte. “One of the things that enables them to do it is that there’s no transparency to USADA’s testing for any of the fighters. What drugs are they testing for? What tests have been performed? What were the results? Why is Travis Tygart doing this?”
One might also ask why Golden Boy and Richard Schaefer are doing this.
“I think that Richard really wanted to be in the forefront on drug testing when he first got involved,” one Golden Boy employee (who, for obvious reasons, wishes to remain anonymous) says. “He knew it would ingratiate him with Floyd. It would get him some good PR. And it was a way to stick it in [Bob] Arum’s ear. But talking with him, I also felt that he thought it was the right thing to do. Then he realized that things were a lot more complicated and, probably, a lot dirtier than he’d thought. And at that point, his priorities changed.”
It would be a stretch to say that Schaefer is trying to install himself as boxing’s drug czar. But he certainly doesn’t want drug testing to interfere with Golden Boy’s fights. That’s evident from his assault on VADA and Margaret Goodman after Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto tested positive.
“Richard Schaefer saw what happened when somebody tests impartially with sophisticated testing methods,” HBO commentator Jim Lampley observes. “I haven’t spoken with him about these issues, but it would certainly appear as though he has decided to stay away from Margaret Goodman.”
Stripped of its rhetoric, Schaefer’s main objection to VADA and Dr. Goodman appears to have been that they wouldn’t empower him in the testing process. He talks about VADA failing to notify him of Peterson’s positive “A” test in a timely manner. But if early notification is so important, why didn’t Golden Boy advise the New York State Athletic Commission that Erik Morales’s “A” and “B” samples had tested positive for Clenbuterol - twice?
In fairness to Golden Boy, no other promoter has made a serious effort to rid boxing of PEDs, or even pretended to. And Schaefer himself acknowledged recently, “I think that ultimately it should be up to the athletic commissions to adopt a more updated drug-testing protocol and really not up to a promoter.”
That latter point is particularly well-taken. The problem is that the state athletic commissions, as presently constituted, are woefully unsuited to the task. In many instances, boxing is barely governed at the state level. Everything has a loophole. Illegal PED users vs. the state athletic commissions is one of the biggest mismatches of all time.
Most state athletic commissions don’t have the resources, the technical expertise, or the will to deal effectively with the PED problem. People go along to get along. No one wants to make waves.
There’s no uniformity with regard to standards, degree of testing, or punishment from state to state. Testing on the day of a competition is notoriously ineffective in the face of sophisticated drug use. But that’s the only testing that most states utilize. Some states don’t drug test at all.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission has long been considered to have one of the best drug-testing programs in the country. Two years ago, Travis Tygart was asked, “How easy is it to beat a testing program like Nevada’s?”
“As simple as walking across the street,” Tygart answered. “It’s good for PR, to give the appearance that you’re testing, but nothing more.”
After Lamont Peterson tested positive with VADA, Zach Arnold of FightOpinion.com spoke with Keith Kizer (Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission).
“Kizer admits that a standard Nevada State Athletic Commission drug test would not have caught Peterson using synthetic testosterone,” Arnold reported afterward. “He admits that the reason the VADA test caught Peterson is because they use the Carbon Isotope Ratio standard for urine testing, which does in fact catch synthetic testosterone usage.”
The Peterson camp, as earlier noted, says Lamont tested positive because of the surgical implantation of testosterone pellets to correct a testosterone deficiency known as hypogonadism. Jeff Fried (Peterson’s attorney) says the implantation occurred on November 12, 2011.
Four weeks later, on December 10, 2011, Peterson fought Amir Khan in Washington D.C. The tests administered by the local commission failed to detect the testosterone. That’s a pretty good indication that PED testing in Washington D.C. is deficient.
California hosts more fight cards than any other state in the country. On October 9, 2012, the California State Athletic Commission upheld a one-year suspension imposed on Antonio Tarver in the wake of his testing positive for Drostanolone.
“The commission heard both sides of the issue and upheld Mr. Tarver’s suspension,” Kathi Burns (interim executive officer of the CSAC, told ESPN.com). “I think the commission’s actions speak for itself. It’s well-known that the commission has among the toughest anti-doping standards in the world, and that we have zero tolerance for doping.”
California then turned 180 degrees and, without a full hearing, licensed Andre Berto for a November 24th fight (to be promoted by Golden Boy) against Robert Guerrero, despite the fact that Berto tested positive for Norandrosterone in May of this year. The explanation given by commission personnel was that Berto’s positive drug tests were administered by VADA and not by the commission itself.
“How can they not recognize VADA?” Margaret Goodman asks. “Our program is in accord with WADA protocols. Our scientific director was recommended to us by WADA’s medical chief. We use internationally-recognized sample collectors. We even use the same laboratory [the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory] that the California commission uses.”
Then there’s the case of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Following his November 14, 2009 fight against Troy Rowland in Las Vegas, Chavez tested positive for Furosemide (a diuretic and steroid-masking agent). He was fined $10,000 by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and suspended for seven months. Four of his next six bouts were in Texas, one in California, and one in Mexico. Texas has a reputation for being lax in the area of drug-testing. Mexico is Mexico.
On September 15, 2012, Chavez returned to Las Vegas to fight Sergio Martinez. After the bout, it was revealed that Julio had tested positive for marijuana.
Marijuana is illegal, but it’s not a performance-enhancing drug. Chavez’s explanation for the positive test was as follows: “I have never smoked marijuana. For years, I have had insomnia, so I went to the doctor and he prescribed some drops for me that contained cannabis. I stopped taking them before the fight with Martinez, and I didn’t think I was going to test positive.”
That explanation strains credibility. Chavez might have been better off claiming he ate tainted beef from a cow that ate a marijuana plant. Still, before the NSAC rules harshly on Julio, it should consider testing all commission personnel (including the five commissioners) for recreational drugs. Boxing has a drug problem, but the drug isn’t marijuana.
As for Erik Morales and New York, on the day of Garcia-Morales II, the New York State Athletic Commission issued the following statement: “The New York Athletic Commission has taken into consideration the testing of Erick [sic] Morales conducted by USADA, an independent non-governmental organization contracted by Golden Boy Promotions to conduct testing on its boxers. Based upon currently available information and the representations made by Mr. Morales that he unintentionally ingested contaminated food, it is the Commission’s opinion that at this time there is inconclusive data to make a final determination regarding the suspension of Mr. Morales’s boxing license. The Commission will continue investigating the allegations and will wait until official laboratory results are available before making a final decision.”
Let’s give the NYSAC the benefit of the doubt and assume that enormous political pressure from above was brought to bear on well-intentioned administrators. Garcia-Morales II was the main event on the first fight card at the new billion-dollar Barclays Center, an anchor for economic redevelopment in Brooklyn.
Still, Kieran Mulvaney summed up nicely when he wrote on ESPN.com, “The way in which the situation was handled was borderline farcical. Morales failed tests twice, yet was allowed to take a third, which he passed, and faced no real consequences. Why have a drug-testing program if testing positive means nothing? If commissions are going to stand on the sideline, will failing a drug test become like missing weight: an inconvenience that can be smoothed over with some extra money changing hands?”
It should also be noted that the world sanctioning organizations are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Four days after Garcia-Morales II, World Boxing Council President Jose Sulaiman declared, “The time of getting urine samples for the anti-doping tests is absolutely none other than in the dressing rooms before going into the ring or after the fights. The WBC only wants to test how a fighter is at the time of his performance and no other time unless it is a special circumstance. The tests are done by the local boxing commissions, most with which we have excellent relations and amicable agreements of mutual cooperation. We are, and have been, testing against drugs in boxing since 1975 and we have had only 15 positives in 37 years and about 1,600 fights. Boxing is a clean sport, as our data proves.”
If Sulaiman weren’t so adept at gobbling up sanctioning fees and crushing reform movements within the WBC, one would be inclined to dismiss him as a buffoon.
As for what comes next, the signs aren’t promising. This Saturday (November 24th), Andre Berto will fight Robert Guerrero in Ontario, California, on a card promoted by Golden Boy.
Guerrero asked that the fighters be tested for PEDs by VADA. Walter Kane (Guerrero’s attorney) says that Richard Schaefer and Al Haymon (Berto’s manager) refused and would only allow testing by the California State Athletic Commission and USADA.
In other words, Berto said he’d do drug testing, but not with the people who caught him earlier this year.
Guerrero had two options. He could accept USADA and a career-high payday or lose the payday.
“I’m not happy about it,” Kane says, “but in the end, we really didn’t have a choice. Golden Boy controls the purse strings, and they’re calling the shots.”
Would the National Football League let Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones dictate drug-testing terms for games the Cowboys play? Of course not. But in essence, Golden Boy (which has a vested interest in the outcome of the fights it promotes) is doing just that.
Once again, the playing field has been tilted. There are times when it appears as though, not only does Golden Boy dictate which drug-testing organization is utilized, it can also influence whether or not there is random blood and urine testing for a fight.
Indeed, Golden Boy might even be able to use its influence over the drug-testing process as a bargaining chip in signing fighters. Andre Berto tested positive and, soon after, was licensed to fight in California in a big-money fight. Erik Morales tested positive and New York said, “No problem. He can fight here right now.”
Meanwhile, Golden Boy is refusing to use a drug-testing agency that plays by the reporting rules (VADA) and is giving its business to an agency (USADA) that appears to have ceded a certain amount of reporting authority to the promoter.
The problems are overwhelming and there are no easy answers. Even state-of-the-art tests often fail to uncover PED use.
Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones was tested more than 160 times during her track-and-field career and none of the tests came back as a confirmed positive. As the BALCO investigation widened, she admitted she’d used steroids prior to the 2000 Olympics and lied to federal investigations about it. She pled guilty to federal charges and spent six months in prison. The tests have gotten more sophisticated since then, but so have the cheaters.
Should boxing even try to curtail PED use?
“Yes,” says Victor Conte. “There will always be athletes who escape detection, but when there’s a desperate need, half a loaf of bread is better than none.”
One might look to Major League Baseball for parallels. No sport wants to tarnish its image, let alone its major stars. But as baseball discovered, if a sport looks the other way, the use of PEDs can come back to haunt it.
Baseball got a huge bounce when Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa rewrote its record book. Now an entire era has been disgraced, and baseball’s most hallowed records (which link fans from one generation to the next) are in limbo.
Baseball made significant strides when it decided, finally, to crack down on PED use. Home run statistics are evidence of that. For eight consecutive seasons (between 1995 and 2002), the MLB home run leader hit at least 50 home runs. In the past five years, that mark has been reached only once. In the past two seasons, the four league leaders hit 44, 41, 43, and 39 home runs. Compare that with 1998, when Mark McGwire hit 70, Sammy Sosa hit 66, and Ken Griffey Jr. hit 56.
In boxing at present, the users are way ahead of the testers and the distance between them is growing. The only thing that can possibly close the gap is a national approach with uniform national standards and a uniform national enforcement mechanism. If additional federal legislation is necessary to achieve that end, so be it. The notion that boxing can clean itself up one state athletic commission at a time is frivolous.
To make real headway, it should be a condition for granting a license in any state that a fighter can be tested for PEDs at any time. Logistics and cost would make mandatory testing on a broad scale impractical, but unannounced spot testing could be implemented.
All contracts for drug testing (such as Golden Boy’s contracts with USADA) should be filed immediately with the Association of Boxing Commissions and the supervising state athletic commission for the fight at issue. The ABC and supervising commission should be notified when each test is performed and also of each test result.
For a state athletic commission to say (as is the case in some jurisdictions) that it won’t recognize any tests but its own is ridiculous. It shouldn’t matter who does the testing as long as the tests are reliable. Whether it’s a police officer or a private security guard who sees a bank being robbed, the offense is prosecuted.
The implementation of sophisticated, unannounced, impartially-administered, random drug testing is the only way to turn the tide.
That said, one has to acknowledge that we live in the real world. If a mega-fight is canceled two days before its scheduled date because one of the combatants has tested positive for PEDs, it isn’t like saying, “Number 94 won’t be playing defensive tackle on Sunday.” In boxing, if a fighter is suspended, the fight doesn’t go on.
Big events are the economic engine that drives boxing. Canceling a mega-fight, particularly at the last minute, will result in tens of millions of dollars in lost income.
For that reason, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that, in certain instances, if a fighter tests positive for PEDs before a fight: (1) his opponent should have the choice of proceeding with the fight or not; (2) if the fight takes place, the fighter who has tested positive should forfeit 50 percent of his purse; and (3) the fighter who has tested positive should be suspended for a minimum of one year after the fight with the suspension being recognized by every jurisdiction in the United States.
Meanwhile, one has to ask: How many positive test results similar to those for Erik Morales (and possibly Floyd Mayweather) are there that we don’t know about? How many other samples have been destroyed in the manner of the samples taken from Peter Quillin and Winky Wright? What would happen if federal investigators put key players in boxing’s ongoing PED drama under oath?
Victor Conte says flatly, “I think the relationship between USADA and Golden Boy needs to be investigated.”
An Internet website isn’t the place to make judgments as to whether or not USADA has acted properly. Congress is. There’s an open issue as to whether USADA has become an instrument of accommodation. For an agency that tests United States Olympic athletes and receives in excess of $10,000,000 a year from the federal government, that’s a significant issue.
If USADA has violated appropriate protocols, the consequences could be enormous. If, in fact, USADA has made special accommodations for Golden Boy, one has to wonder how many times it has made similar accommodations for other athletes in the past.
This isn’t about a handful of athletes. It’s about the integrity of boxing and the well-being of all fighters.
Someday, if it hasn’t happened already, a fighter who has been using PEDs will kill his opponent in the ring. Thus, in closing, it’s worth remembering the thoughts of Emanuel Steward.
“Boxing isn’t like other sports,” Steward said several months before his death. “In boxing, a human being is getting hit in the head. None of us like to talk about it, but there’s a very real risk of brain damage. So to my way of thinking, anyone in boxing who’s part of using performance-enhancing drugs – I don’t care if it’s the fighter, the trainer, the strength coach, the conditioner, the manager, the promoter – that person is ruining the sport and doing something criminal.”
|Lo-Fi Version||Time is now: 24th May 2013 - 04:38 AM|