You know, sometimes I hate seeing that Thomas Hauser has published another article.
That’s not because I don’t enjoy them. It’s not because they’re poorly researched. It’s not because they’re badly written. None of the above apply; Hauser is a fantastic writer.
It’s because Thomas Hauser asks the questions that need to be asked which lead to the answers that we don’t necessarily want to hear.
One of his main… I guess investigations is the correct term to use… over recent years has been the use of performance enhancing drugs in boxing and he has written confidently, authoritatively and intelligently on the subject. His latest excellent article can be found here (credit thesweetscience.com), with an extract below. It’s a brilliant but somewhat unsettling read but it is something every boxing fan should read and take notice of.
Thus, it’s worth focusing on Edwin Rodriguez and the laudable commitment to 24-7-365 VADA testing that he recently made.
In August of this year, Rodriguez signed with manager Al Haymon. At least three of Haymon’s fghters (Andre Berto, Antonio Tarver, and J’Leon Love) have tested positive for PEDs in the past.
Another Haymon fighter (Peter Quillin) was enrolled in a USADA testing program prior to his June 2, 2012, fight against Winky Wright. Then, after blood and urine samples were taken from both fighters, Wright was told that the testing had been abandoned and the samples were destroyed.
Haymon also represents Adrien Broner.
Broner, Antonio DeMarco, Golden Boy (Broner’s promoter), and the United States Anti-Doping Agency signed a contract for USADA testing prior to the November 17, 2012, Broner-DeMarco fight. But according to DeMarco, he wasn’t tested by USADA for that bout, nor was Broner.
Then, on June 22, 2013, Broner fought Paulie Malignaggi.
“I wanted VADA testing,” Malignaggi recalls. “And I was told, ‘No, we won’t do VADA. If you insist on VADA, there won’t be a fight.’ Finally, I said, ‘F— it. I’m getting seven figures. I’ll go ahead and fight.’ Would I have been more confident that Broner was clean if there had been VADA testing? Absolutely.”
I’ve done my own piece on PED’s in boxing in the past and it’s a difficult topic as a fan to confront. I can’t prove or disprove Hauser’s arguments outside of the facts he presents to me. But boxing has an issue with PED’s and whatever the harm or the cost it has to face it. Because the harm and the cost is far less than a human life… and that is what we’re risking by allowing artificially enhanced boxers to compete against those who follow the rules. Unfortunately that means that some people who genuinely did use substances classified as PED’s inadvertently will get caught up (the sad case of promising British heavyweight hopeful Dillian Whyte comes to mind) but the reward… a clean sport where boxers take an active interest in what they put into themselves… is worth the cost.
The move towards more extensive testing then the athletic commissions currently require is a positive one and if nothing else hopefully peer pressure will lead to more boxers taking on the 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day testing regime that some now follow. And whether we think it was for altruistic reasons or not (and I strongly doubt it) some credit has to be given to Floyd Mayweather Jr for helping to bring attention to this trend with his demands for testing in any possible superfight with Pacquaio.
But more needs to be done. There needs to be better communication between promoters, regulators, USDA and VADA, there needs to be better systems in place (so a farce such as Erik Morales failing a test before a bout but then being allowed to still box never happens again) and there need to be more boxers being tested year round, in and out of competition. The fans and the boxing press need to get behind this.
Because if we do, then hopefully the powers that be will finally pull their heads out of the sand and really take steps to confront this scourge before something truly tragic happens.