For whatever reason, flying under the radar of several media outlets is the fact that last week, Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach cast his own cloud of suspicion on his star pupil, multi-division world champion Manny Pacquiao. In a revealing interview with, Roach shared his opinion of former one-time friend and associate Alex Ariza, who he referred to as "shady". "I know he has a new strength coach [Alex Ariza] and I don't get along with the guy, and one of the reasons why he doesn't work for me anymore is because I think he's a little shady, you know. He used to give Manny [Pacquiao] a drink every day before we worked out and I asked him, 'What's in that drink,' and he would never tell me. And I said, 'I need to know what's in that drink because, you know, you're giving it to my fighter and if something goes wrong, I'm gonna get the blame.' In my opinion, he's a little shady," Roach commented when asked for his thoughts on the news that Brandon Rios tested positive for a banned substance following his lopsided loss to Pacquiao. What Roach may or may not have realized, however, is that his own comments now bring into question the 5-plus years that he and Ariza worked side-by-side during Pacquiao's rapid ascent through the weigh divisions, racking up dominant victories from 130 to 154 pounds over the likes of Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Oscar De La Hoya, and Antonio Margarito to name a few.

Roach first hired Ariza back in 2008. Originally, he was brought in to treat a shoulder injury prior to Pacquiao's rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez, but not long after that, he was asked to overhaul the entire training program and was officially added to the team as the new strength and conditioning coach. It didn't take long for the pairing of Roach and Ariza to produce successful results with Pacquiao, quickly moving him up two weight divisions and notching big wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Miguel Cotto in a 20-month timeframe. The fact that Pacquiao was so dominant against bigger opposition after jumping 3 weight classes is likely what prompted world-class trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. to first raise his own suspicions about Pacquiao allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs during a 2009 video interview with Josh Slaghter of Those suspicions about Pacquiao were then compounded later that year as negotiations began for a mega-fight with undefeated pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, who declared his intentions to clean up the sport of boxing by requiring all of his opponents to subject themselves to random blood and urine testing.

When news first broke of Mayweather's requirement for the mega-fight to take place, both Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza were a united front when it came to any accussations leveled at Manny Pacquiao regarding performance-enhancing drugs. "I know my fighter. I know he's never taken drugs and never will take drugs. I mean, I have trouble giving him vitamins for Christ's sake. I mean, he doesn't like needles; he doesn't like blood drawn," Freddie Roach commented in a video interview with Gareth A Davies of The Telegraph back in February of 2010. A month after that, Roach was quick to defend Ariza, telling Michael Rosenthal of, "That's the first guy I went to...Alex is a friend of mine and he works with me. My reputation is on the line with him. He assures me 100 percent that there's nothing out there."

During that same time period, Ariza echoed Roach's statements. "For the record, I don't work for the fighter, Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan. I work for Freddie Roach. Anything I give Manny or suggest to Manny, I would never jeopardize Freddie's trust in me or my relationship with him just for a win for any of these fighters. I wouldn't jeopardize that for any amount of money or amount of wins. I'd go under any lie detector test," Ariza explained during a separate interview with "I've been working with Manny for almost two years. Do you know how hard it was for me to convince Manny to do anything I suggested? It took me so long, to go to Freddie, to show him to convince him to venture to start taking evenn multi-vitamins and protein drinks or recovery drinks. Manny never did those things before."

Of course, this was all before the two former friends and teammates had a bitter falling out that prompted Roach to fire Ariza in 2013, ending their five-year run as one of the most successful training teams in the sport. That begs the question, are these latest comments from Roach simply the matter of an ex-friend attempting to assassinate the character of Ariza, or is there really more to the story? Judging by their own statements given in past interviews, it's extremely hard to believe that, for 5 years, Freddie Roach had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever about the drinks that Alex Ariza was giving Manny Pacquiao prior to their workouts. In fact, on the contrary, Ariza made it clear that Freddie Roach had a very active role in Pacquiao's strength and conditioning program, even pointing out that Roach was far more knowledgeable about sports science than most trainers. Take a look at the following statements made by Ariza in an interview conducted in December of 2009, shortly after Pacquiao refused to agree to random blood and urine testing:

  • "Freddie is involved in every aspect of this, to the nutrition, to coming up with the special exercises. Then we run them through Manny. It's very detailed. It would be irresponsible to do this on my own. Teri is phenomenal. Aundrea is a phenomenal research analyst. With Freddie, we formulated a program. A lot of hard work went into this. It's disappointing to see it's being shattered and shadowed by these steroid accusations."

  • "Most of it is textbook, consistent, we try to be smart and positive as a team. If I do look at changing something, Manny will still look at Freddie. I still have to get Freddie's approval. Whatever I do change, Manny will always look for that nod from Freddie. Change is not always the best thing, that's why having a trainer like Freddie is so important."

  • "Freddie is an out of the box trainer. If it makes sense to him, he'll try it. When I first talked to him, I was surprised how much he knew - about interval training, importance of nutrition throughout the day. He knew the basics, just not the intricate details. He knows what most trainers don't care to learn. At first there were some things I thought might not work with Manny. Freddie forced it. So we kept coming up with new stuff. He thought, if we're gonna move up weight divisions, we gotta try something new. Without Freddie, this would have never worked."
Note that this interview was conducted during the same time period that Freddie Roach and Alex Ariza were a united front in regards to allegations of PED use by Pacquiao. Given those statements, it appears that Roach was extremely involved in Pacquiao's nutritional program from the very beginning, particularly as he was moving up in weight. As both Ariza and Roach clearly pointed out in 2009, Manny Pacquiao would barely even take multi-vitamins, let alone any type of "mystery drink", so one can't help but ask just how much did Freddie Roach really know?  If, as Ariza suggested in early 2010 when they were still friends, Freddie Roach was intricately involved with every aspect of the program, including the exercises and the nutrition, did he truly not know what Pacquiao was drinking prior to their workouts? Is Freddie Roach now telling us that he knew something was "shady" about Alex Ariza, but he simply adopted a "don't ask, don't tell" policy during that 5-plus years [2008-2013]?

Well, it wouldn't be the first time that Roach said he suspected one of his fighters was using performance-enhancing drugs, but turned a blind eye to it. "I won't say I didn't know," Roach freely admitted back in March of 2010 when he discussed James Toney testing positive for steroids five years prior. "I never asked him, though. I never had a conversation. I could see his body structure had signs, his traps and stuff. He was either lifting a lot of weight or he was on (something)." In that same interview, Roach also insinuated that he knew another one of his fighters used steroids. "I think I had one other fighter on steroids also, Justin Fortune. I know he'd been there before," Roach added. Although that second claim has gone unsubstantiated thanks to a defamation lawsuit filed by Fortune, it should be noted that in a sworn statement, Roach said Fortune admitted to him that he did indeed use performance-enhancing drugs. "During the time that I trained [Fortune], [he] told me that he had used cycled performance enhancing drugs when he was training for the World Games as a power lifter in his home country of Australia," Roach explained in the statement. "Based on the information provided me by plaintiff, I believed that (he) had used PEDs."

Now, please understand that I am NOT making a case about whether or not Manny Pacquiao knowingly or unknowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. Though in this day and age, when even seemingly clean-cut, do-no-wrong athletes like Alex Rodriguez and Lance Armstrong are getting caught in PED scandals, it can certainly also happen in boxing, a sport that is well behind the curve when it comes to strict drug testing policies. That being said, when a Hall of Fame trainer reveals that he questioned a "mystery drink" that was given to one of his most accomplished athletes for nearly 6 years, I think there's a few more questions that need to be asked. Why is Freddie Roach, all of a sudden, singing a different tune regarding Pacquiao's strength and conditioning program that both he and Alex Ariza seemingly worked so closely on? If Roach was concerned about this "mystery drink" that "shady" Ariza was giving to Pacquiao, why didn't he say something 2, 3, 4 or even 5 years ago? First he insisted that absolutely nothing was going on, but now he's saying he worked with a "shady" individual? Was he lying yesterday and telling the truth today, or was he telling the truth yesterday and lying today? Which one is it? These are some of the "tough" questions that I hope some of the investigative journalists with West Coast connections to Freddie Roach can get answers to.