During two separate conference calls held last week to promote this weekend's anticipated showdown between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, promoter Bob Arum informed the media that they were "behind the times" before proceeding to flex his knowledge on performance enhancing drugs. "Wake up and see what these conditioners are saying. They are using natural and totally legal supplements and using state-of-the-art conditioning methods. Not because of anything other than the fact there have been advancements in the legal methods. The steroid problem is fading into the past," Arum boldly poclaimed. At first, I laughed at his comments, thinking that the notion of steroids being a thing of the past seemed rather ridiculous considering that, just days before Arum's proclamation, a drug investigation into a YMCA in Lebanon, Ohio revealed a massive nationwide steroid ring and busted a secret anabolic steroids lab in Tennessee, leading to the indictment of 32 people. Although Arum must have missed those headlines, little did I know just how right he was regarding steroids and the advancements that have been made in the past 5 to 10 years. Enter Angel Memo Heredia, graduate of Texas A&M University and an admitted steroid dealer, who in the past has eschewed the use of steroids in favor of more modern performance enhancing drugs that he referred to as "the main stuff": growth hormone, insulin, EPO, and IGF-1.
To be fair, Heredia maintains that his past is exactly that, just the past. "I've never been banned from coaching. I have the curriculum. I have the science degrees. What we're doing is strictly science," Heredia would comment, defending himself to those who questioned his controversial past during the latest episode of HBO's 24/7 series. That being said, the scientific knowledge that he's accumulated over the years regarding performance enhancing drugs is quite impressive. The son of a chemist, Heredia spent years honing his own knowledge of chemistry, with his family's company, Chopo Laboratory in Mexico City, Mexico, at his disposal. In 2008, following his involvement as a government witness in the BALCO scandal, Heredia granted an in-depth interview to Der Spiegel, a German weekly news magazine, which also happens to be one of Europe's largest publications, giving explicit details on his involvement with and knowledge of performance enhancing drugs and how he got away with beating the testing system. Although the online version is in German, with the help of Google, we we're able to translate it to come up with some rather interesting quotes from Heredia. Here are just a few of the many gems taken from the interview:
- "I read anything I could find about medicine, spoke with other athletes, and soon people were saying: Angel knows how it's done. He knows how to pass the tests. The first athletes began to ask me for advice. That's how it started, and at some point the trainer Trevor Graham asked me if I could help him. I explained to him how epo works, and I was in business."
- "My father is a chemistry professor. I love chemistry, and I was an athlete. My role was an obsession. For example, I learned everything about testosterone: that there is a type of testosterone with a high half-life and another that works very quickly. I learned that you can rub it in, take it orally, inject it. It became a kick: I was allowed to work with the best of the best, and I made them even better."
- "You want an example? Everyone talks about epo. Epo is fashionable. But without adding iron, epo only works half as well. That's the kind of thing you have to know. There are oxygen carriers that make epo work incredibly fast they are actually better than epo alone. I call my drug "Epo Boost." I inject it and it releases many tiny oxygen molecules throughout the body. In that way you increase the effect of epo by a factor of ten."
- "There are tablets for the kidneys that block the metabolites of steroids, so when athletes give a urine sample, they don't excrete the metabolites and thus test negative. Or there is an enzyme that slowly consumes proteins - epo has protein structures, and the enzyme thus ensures that the B sample of the doping test has a completely different value than the A sample. Then there are chemicals that you take a couple of hours before the race that prevent acidification in the muscles. Together with epo they are an absolute miracle. I've created 20 different drugs that are still undetectable for the doping testers."
- "I had one substance called actovison that increased blood circulation not detectable. That was good from a health standpoint and even better from a competitive standpoint. Then we had the growth factors IGF-1 and IGF-2. And epo. Epo increases the number of red blood cells and thus the transportation of oxygen, which is the key for every athlete: the athlete wants to recover quickly, keep the load at a constantly high level and achieve a constant performance."
- "We have used creams that leave no trace and give the athlete a steadily higher testosterone levels."
- "Yes, the only difference is the quality of the doping. Athletes with little money use simple steroids and hope they don't get tested. The stars earn 50,000 dollars a month, not including starting bonuses and shoe sponsorship contracts. The very best invest 100,000 dollars I'll then build you a designer drug that can't be detected."
- "Designer drugs are composed of several different chemicals that trigger the desired reaction. At the end of the chain I change one or two molecules in such a way that the entire structure is undetectable for the doping testers."
- "What's happening now is laughable. It's a token. They should save their money or give it to me. I'll give it to the orphans of Mexico! There will be doping for as long as there is commercial sports, performance-related shoe contracts and television."
- "Peak performances without doping are a fairytale, my friend."
- "I believe we should authorize the use of epo, IGF and testosterone, as well as adrenaline and epitestosterone substances that the body produces itself. Simply for pragmatic reasons, because it is impossible to detect them, and also because of the fairness aspect."
- "Track and field, swimming, cross-country skiing and cycling can no longer be saved. Golf? Not clean either. Soccer? Soccer players come to me and say they have to be able to run up and down the touchline without becoming tired, and they have to play every three days. Basketball players take fat burners amphetamines, ephedrin. Baseball? Haha. Steroids in pre-season, amphetamines during the games. Even archers take downers so that their arm remains steady. Everyone dopes."
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