World Exclusive Article by Thomas Hauser
On September 9, 2015, an article I wrote entitled “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” was posted online, click here to read.
Among other things, the article reported that, eighteen days after the May 2 fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (which had contracted to oversee drug testing for the bout) granted Mayweather a retroactive therapeutic use exemption for a procedure that's on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) "Prohibited Substances and Methods List".
More specifically, on May 19, Mayweather applied for (and, on May 20, was granted) a therapeutic use exemption for what he says was an IV infusion of saline and vitamins that was administered on May 1.
The IV administration of legal substances of up to 50 milliliters per 6-hour period is permitted under WADA and USADA regulations. The administration of more than 50 milliliters per 6-hour period is prohibited because an IV infusion can dilute or mask the presence of another substance that is already in the recipient’s system or might be added to it in the near future.
Mayweather acknowledges having received an IV infusion of 750 milliliters (25.361 ounces), an amount equal to roughly 16 percent of the blood normally present in an average adult male.
A September 10, 2015, statement from USADA in response to “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” reads in part, “Because Mr. Mayweather was voluntarily taking part in a USADA program, and therefore subject to the rules of the WADA Code, he took the additional step of applying for a TUE after the IV infusion was administered in order remain in compliance with the USADA program.”
In other words, USADA concedes that, without the retroactive therapeutic use exemption, Mayweather would have been in violation of the WADA code.
“Can Boxing Trust USADA?” raised other issues as well. Most notable among these were questions regarding the results of two testosterone-to-epitestosterone-ratio tests administered to Mayweather and USADA’s handling of tests that found Clenbuterol (a prohibited drug) in Erik Morales’s system. However, public reaction to the article focused on the IV that was administered to Mayweather.
In the first 24 hours after “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” was posted online, links to the article were tweeted more than two thousand times. At one point on September 10, the issue of Mayweather and USADA was the number one trending story on Facebook.
That same day, an interviewer for ESPN SportsCenter was bypassed during a series of satellite interviews designed to promote the September 12 pay-per-view fight between Mayweather and Andre Berto because ESPN refused to commit to not asking about the issue of Mayweather’s IV.
The widely-reported justification for Mayweather’s IV is that it was administered to remedy dehydration. On September 11, Mayweather told an interviewer for FightHype.com that he’d been “just rehydrating.” That’s also what USADA suggested to the Nevada State Athletic Commission when it advised the NSAC on May 21 (nineteen days after Mayweather-Pacquiao) that “the infusion was administered to address concerns related to dehydration.”
But that statement was made by USADA at a time when it was likely that Mayweather’s IV would pass without public notice. Since then, USADA has declined to state what the medical justification for the otherwise-prohibited IV procedure was.
On September 17, USADA released what it called a “Detailed Correction” of “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” The “correction” (which will be discussed at length later in this article) is 9,992 words long. It references Victor Conte (who was imprisoned for conduct related to the BALCO scandal) by name 21 times. It describes this writer with words like “reckless” and “totally irresponsible.”
One word that USADA’s “Detailed Correction” does not mention is “dehydrated.” Nor does it use “dehydration” or any derivative thereof.
Most likely, that’s because the available evidence strongly suggests that Floyd Mayweather was not dehydrated.
Too often, people enter into a discussion with their minds already made up. I urge everyone on both sides of the Mayweather-USADA issue to read this article and the article that preceded it in their entirety. Carefully. The issues that the articles raise are important to everyone who cares about boxing and clean sport.
Then let’s have an intelligent dialogue.
USADA’s explanation of the events surrounding the IV that was administered to Floyd Mayweather raises more questions than it answers. This is the time line that USADA offered in its September 17 statement.
A doping control officer arrived at Mayweather’s home at approximately 1:45 PM on the day of the weigh-in for Mayweather-Pacquiao to collect a urine sample. As previously noted, USADA’s “Detailed Correction” does not say that Mayweather was dehydrated. It references an unspecified “physical condition” and says that he “provided partial urine samples to USADA both prior to and following the infusion [which was after the weigh-in].” USADA did not state with greater specificity when the first partial urine sample was provided.
Mayweather went to the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the weigh-in, conducted interviews after the weigh-in, and returned to his home at an unspecified hour. Presumably, if he was dehydrated, he had the opportunity to drink water, Gatorade, or another beverage of his choosing after the weigh-in.
Be that as it may; at an unspecified time, the USADA collection officer “observed Mr. Mayweather’s condition that precipitated the need for an IV.”
We are not told specifically what this condition was, but might speculate that Mayweather told the collection officer that he couldn’t urinate since there was only a “partial” urine collection before the IV. USADA also tells us that “Mr. Mayweather declared the infusion in advance to the USADA DCO, who was made aware of the need for the IV due to Mr. Mayweather’s physical condition.”
What exactly was Mayweather’s “physical condition”? What was the medical justification that led to the decision that an onsite IV was the appropriate treatment? Who made the determination that the IV was medically necessary? A doping control officer can’t make that determination.
USADA further tells us, “The DCO was also in the home when the paramedic was called and remained in the home while the paramedic provided the IV.”
Who called the paramedic? Which medical service did the paramedic come from? Where is the full paramedic report of the incident?
In addition, USADA states, “The USADA DCO continued to monitor Mr. Mayweather throughout the administration of the IV by the paramedic and thereafter until a full sample was collected from Mr. Mayweather.”
In other words, according to USADA, its on-site doping control officer was informed in advance that Mayweather intended to undergo a procedure that was in violation of WADA protocols and then watched while the procedure was in progress. Thereafter, USADA withheld notification from the Nevada State Athletic Commission for twenty days.
And USADA knew the procedure was in violation of WADA protocols because it had to grant Mayweather a therapeutic use exemption in order to justify it. In fact, USADA’s ”Detailed Correction” acknowledges, ”The use of IVs in this manner is prohibited without a TUE.”
This, in turn, leads to more questions.
Did USADA independently analyze the solution that was administered to Mayweather by IV? Or did it take the word of Mayweather’s camp that it was saline and vitamins?
Who “approved” the IV procedure on site?
What was the medical justification and supporting data that led to USADA granting a retroactive therapeutic use exemption for an otherwise prohibited IV procedure?
Who at USADA made the decision to grant Mayweather a retroactive therapeutic use exemption eighteen days after the fight?
If the procedure was “approved on site,” why did Mayweather need to apply for and receive a therapeutic use exemption almost three weeks later?
USADA reported to the Nevada State Athletic Commission that the last blood sample it took from Mayweather prior to the fight was on April 21. Shouldn’t USADA have taken samples on May 1, immediately prior to and after administration of the IV?
On how many previous occasions has Mayweather received an IV infusion after the weigh-in for one of his fights? If such infusions did in fact occur, was he given a therapeutic use exemption in each instance?
And at the risk of sounding simplistic: If Mayweather was dehydrated, why didn't he simply drink several glasses of water after the weigh-in to remedy the problem?
The answer to the last question is that, as earlier noted, the available evidence strongly suggests that Mayweather was not dehydrated. And certainly not dehydrated enough to need an IV infusion equal to roughly 16 percent of his total blood volume.
Let’s review what we know at the present time.
The contract weight for Mayweather-Pacquiao was 147 pounds.
Thirty days before the fight, Mayweather weighed in for the World Boxing Council and tipped the scales at 150-1/2 pounds.
Much has been made of the pre-fight medical questionnaire that Manny Pacquiao filled out on May 1, 2015 (the day of the Mayweather-Pacquiao weigh-in). The questionnaire specifically asked, “Have you had any injury to your shoulders, elbows, or hands that needed evaluation or examination?” Hiding the fact of his partial rotator-cuff tear, Pacquiao (or his representative) falsely answered “no.”
But Mayweather’s pre-fight medical questionnaire is also instructive. In response to the question, “What was your weight 2 weeks ago,” Mayweather answered “149 pounds.” In response to the question, “What was your weight 1 week ago,” Mayweather answered “148-1/2 pounds.”
And Mayweather weighed in for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight at 146 pounds (one pound under the contract weight), which is a further indication that he didn’t need to dangerously dehydrate to make weight.
Also, Mayweather was given a pre-fight physical examination by the Nevada State Athletic Commission on the day of the weigh-in. Did he disclose to commission doctors at that time that he was so badly dehydrated that he needed an IV infusion? No, he did not. Nor, according to NSAC records, did the examining physician find evidence of dehydration.
If a fighter is dehydrated, his blood pressure is likely to be low and his pulse rate high. That wasn’t the case with Mayweather as evidenced by the Nevada State Athletic Commission medical data sheet.
Mayweather’s blood pressure was 118/84. In other words, his systolic blood pressure (pressure when the heart is contracting and pumping blood out) was 118. And his diastolic blood pressure (pressure when the heart is resting between beats) was 84. That’s normal for a professional athlete.
Mayweather’s pulse rate – 60 sitting and 66 standing – was also normal.
When a ring doctor tells a fighter to open his mouth wide at a pre-fight physical examination, the doctor isn’t looking for cavities. He’s checking for loose teeth and cuts inside the mouth. The doctor is also checking the mucous membrane lining inside the fighter’s mouth for signs of dehydration. Furthermore, if a fighter is dehydrated, there are additional signs of that condition in his skin turgor (the time it takes for skin to return to its original position after being pinched). Neither of these conditions was noted by the examining doctor.
To repeat: Mayweather showed no significant signs of dehydration at his pre-fight physical examination.
Moreover, if USADA did determine that Mayweather was so badly dehydrated as to warrant the emergency treatment of adding 25.361 ounces of fluid to his blood, it’s unconscionable that USADA didn’t transmit this information to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the ring doctors who would be overseeing the fight the following night.
So . . . If the purpose of the IV that was administered to Mayweather wasn’t to combat dehydration, what was it for?
Let’s start with some thoughts from Jeff Novitzky, the former federal agent who played a key role in the investigation of Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, and Victor Conte.
In August of this year, Novitzky appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience #685, and the following exchange occurred:
Joe Rogan: What’s the reason why they can’t use an IV? Is it to mask possible performance enhancing drugs?
Jeff Novitzky: That’s the primary reason. I saw it up front and center in cycling. They were using IVs of saline solution to manipulate their blood level readings, which were being used to determine if they were blood doping. It could also be used to flush a system. It dilutes blood and urine so that natural steroid profiles are very hard to read after you’ve taken an IV bag. That’s the primary reason. WADA also prohibits them for some health reasons. When an IV is administered, especially close to a competition, there’s a possibility of blowing out a vein or having clotting after the IV is taken out. There could be some issues with edema and swelling. If the idea is to rehydrate, it’s much safer to do it orally. Studies show that orally rehydrating is better for you if you’re mildly dehydrated. There’s two things that they show consistently. Number one, it’s obviously safer to put something through your mouth than put it in a needle in your vein. Number two, your perceived rate of exertion, how hard you feel you’re working after rehydrating orally, is less than if you rehydrate via IV. If you rehydrate orally properly, the next day you’re going to feel a whole lot better when you’re exerting yourself.”
“Now that’s mild dehydration,” Novitzky added. Where extreme dehydration is concerned, Novitzky suggested, “You probably should go to a hospital. [And] I think you need to notify the commission where you’re fighting.”
Sports fans now know that an IV infusion can dilute or mask the presence of another substance that is already in an athlete’s system or might be added to the athlete’s system in the near future. Let’s put some meat on that statement, taking erythropoietin (EPO) as an example.
A person’s red and white blood cells are suspended in plasma (a fluid that, by itself, is yellow in color).
Red blood cells deliver oxygen to muscle tissue.
Erythropoietin is a hormone that stimulates the production of red blood cells. Synthetic EPO can be administered by injection and, by creating more red blood cells, increases the flow of oxygen to an athlete’s muscle tissue. It also hastens the removal of metabolic waste. As such, EPO increases an athlete’s aerobic capacity and endurance.
Once the desired level of EPO is reached in an athlete’s system, the level of red blood cells can be maintained by a weekly injection.
There are two ways to determine the presence of synthetic EPO in an athlete’s system. The first is a urine test that directly determines its presence. When EPO is administered by subcutaneous injection, it clears an athlete’s system in roughly 43 hours. If EPO is administered by IV, it clears an athlete’s system on average in 19 hours.
The second way to test for synthetic EPO is a hematocrit blood test. This test doesn’t directly measure the presence of EPO. Rather, it tests for the result of EPO administration.
A person’s hematocrit level is the percentage of red blood cells to that person’s total whole blood volume. The hematocrit level for an average adult male is roughly 45%. Anything below 37% or above 51% indicates an irregularity.
If an athlete is using synthetic EPO, his or her hematocrit level rises. Adding saline solution to the athlete’s blood intravenously increases the plasma component of the blood, thus bringing down the ratio of red blood cells to total whole blood volume. As such, the saline solution reduces the athlete’s hematocrit level to an acceptable level.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that a hematocrit blood test would show that the percentage of red blood cells to an athlete’s total whole blood volume is 55%. If the athlete adds 750 milliliters (25.361 ounces) of saline solution and vitamins via IV, it won’t diminished the number of red blood cells in that athlete. His red blood cells will still be at an elevated level. But the percentage of red blood cells to that athlete’s total whole blood volume will drop to 47% because he will be increasing his total whole blood volume.
That’s an example of what is meant by “diluting and masking” through the use of an intravenous infusion.
I don’t know whether or not Floyd Mayweather used prohibited performance enhancing drugs.
To repeat: I don’t know whether or not Floyd Mayweather used prohibited performance enhancing drugs.
I do know that the facts surrounding Mayweather’s May 1 IV have not been fully explored. And I have a problem with the concept of a doping control officer going to Mayweather’s home, and Mayweather telling the DCO that he’ll provide a full urine sample AFTER he takes an IV infusion of 25.361 ounces of fluid.
To date, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has been supportive of Mayweather. At the start of Showtime’s pay-per-view telecast of the September 12 fight between Mayweather and Andre Berto, NSAC executive director Bob Bennett told Jim Gray, “Mr. Mayweather has done nothing wrong. The Nevada State Athletic Commission has no interest in any type of investigation regarding his IV.”
But the issues regarding Mayweather and USADA go far beyond the May 1 IV.
In response to a request for documents, the Nevada State Athletic Commission produced two lab reports earlier this year that listed the testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio on tests that it (not USADA) had overseen on Mayweather. In one instance, blood and urine samples were taken from Mayweather on August 18, 2011 (prior to his September 17 fight against Victor Ortiz). In the other instance, blood and urine samples were taken from Mayweather on April 3, 2013 (prior to his May 4 fight against Robert Guerrero). In each instance, Mayweather’s testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio was unusually low, which is sometimes a sign that synthetic epitestosterone has been administered to cover up the use of synthetic testosterone.
Also, USADA previously posted on its website the dates on which it took blood and urine samples from Mayweather dating back to his 2010 fight against Shane Mosley. These posts have now been removed.
Other sources have provided the testing dates for Mayweather’s fights against Mosley, Miguel Cotto, and Manny Pacquiao. In the case of Mayweather-Mosley, the final pre-fight blood sample was taken from Mayweather eighteen days before the fight. In the case of Mayweather-Cotto, the final pre-fight blood sample was taken from Mayweather sixteen days before the fight. For Mayweather-Pacquiao, there was an eleven-day gap.
That’s a lot of time.
Meanwhile, the Nevada State Athletic Commission is unhappy with USADA.
After “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” was posted, NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar told the Las Vegas Review Journal, "USADA does not have the jurisdiction to approve and administer a TUE. That and the fact we were not notified until well after the fact of Mr. Mayweather's being administered the TUE are very troubling and concerning to us. USADA is supposed to be a drug-testing agency and not a TUE administrating organization. We were not made aware of this until several weeks after the fight, which is not acceptable procedure for the commission."
Similarly, Bob Bennett told the Los Angeles Times, “USADA has historically been recognized as the world’s leading anti-doping authority. However, my experiences to date with them have been less than acceptable and less than professional. He [Mayweather] cannot have it done at his house and USADA can’t authorize it. I have specifically articulated and memorialized to USADA that [the NSAC] is the sole authority that can authorize a therapeutic use exemption for a fighter in the state of Nevada. USADA never told us prior to the IV that they had their own TUE, and they never kept us informed about it being administered. If they think they can do what they want, where and whenever they want in the State of Nevada, they are grossly mistaken.”
Also, let’s keep in mind that the original draft of the USADA-Mayweather-Pacquiao drug-testing contract would have allowed USADA to grant a retroactive therapeutic use exemption to either fighter without notifying the Nevada State Athletic Commission or the opposing fighter’s camp. Indeed, even USADA’s “Detailed Correction” concedes, “USADA agreed to the request from Mr. Pacquiao’s representatives that USADA provide mutual notification to both fighters upon the approval of a TUE.”
In other words, if Pacquiao’s representatives hadn’t insisted upon notification, Mayweather’s retroactive therapeutic use exemption would most likely have remained a secret between Mayweather and USADA.
That brings us back to USADA’s 25-page “Detailed Correction.”
“Can Boxing Trust USADA?” was posted on September 9. Eight days later, USADA issued its response. Its “Detailed Correction” purports to give readers “accurate facts” - a redundancy that underscores USADA’s lack of understanding of what constitutes truth.
The dictionary defines “fact” as “something that actually exists, reality, truth.” A fact is a fact. If it isn’t accurate, it’s not a fact.
USADA’s “Detailed Correction” reads like talking points that have been prepared for a political candidate who wants to distort the facts.
There’s one significant correction in it that I accept. Prior to USADA’s September 17 statement, it was widely believed that its doping control officer went to Mayweather’s Las Vegas home to conduct an unannounced drug test and found evidence of an IV being administered to Mayweather. USADA maintains – and I will accept - that “Mr. Mayweather declared the infusion in advance to the USADA DCO.” However, that leads to the questions about the IV posed earlier in this article.
Beyond that, USADA’s “Detailed Correction” consists for the most part of misstatements, distortions, and platitudes about “clean sport.” It purports to present “a side by side comparison of the claims of Mr. Hauser’s article to the truth.” But USADA’s “truth” is often misleading or a reaffirmation of what I wrote.
For example, the USADA “Detailed Correction” states, “Mr. Hauser fails to specifically identify any provisions in the Testing Agreement that conflict with USADA’s statement that our professional boxing testing programs are in accordance with the WADA International Standards.”
That’s simply wrong.
A copy of the drug-testing agreement entered into between USADA, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao was attached as an exhibit to “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” Paragraph 30 of the contract states, “If any rule or regulation whatsoever incorporated or referenced herein conflicts in any respect with the terms of this Agreement, this Agreement shall in all such respects control. Such rules and regulations include, but are not limited to: the Code [the World Anti-Doping Code]; the USADA Protocol; the WADA Prohibited List; the ISTUE [WADA International Standard for Therapeutic Use Exemptions]; and the ISTI [WADA International Standard for Testing and Investigations].”
USADA also objects to a quote from Victor Conte in “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” in which Conte states, “USADA’s boxing testing program . . . has one set of rules for some fighters and a different set of rules for others. That’s not the way real drug testing works.”
In response, USADA’s “Detailed Correction” claims, “USADA applies the same set of rules to all fighters who voluntarily agree to participate in a USADA professional boxing testing program.”
But in the same “Detailed Correction,” USADA acknowledges that paragraph 30 of the USADA-Mayweather-Pacquiao drug testing agreement (referenced above) varied from its standard professional boxing testing agreement.
“Can Boxing Trust USADA?” notes that, after hearing reports that three Floyd Mayweather “A” samples had tested positive, Manny Pacquiao’s attorneys served document demands and subpoenas on various entities including USADA, demanding the production of all documents relating to PED testing of Mayweather in conjunction with three fights.
“The documents,” I wrote, “were not produced.”
In response, the “Detailed Correction” states, “This is inaccurate. USADA produced a total of 2,695 pages of documents in response to the subpoena from Mr. Pacquiao’s legal counsel.”
Now let’s look at the truth.
USADA produced a mountain of paper in response to the subpoena, including rules and regulations that were already a matter of public record and some test results. But it withheld other documents and, on June 22, 2012, filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing, "First, the requested documents include medical records and documentation relating to Mr. Mayweather Jr which may constitute confidential medical records requiring his consent and release. Second, the requested documents include documents protected by the attorney-client privilege, work product doctrine and/or the investigative privilege. Third, the subpoena purports to require production in Los Angeles, California, more than 100 miles from USADA's offices and the location of the requested documents."
USADA’s motion to quash was never ruled upon by the court because the case was settled by the payment of an undisclosed sum of money by Mayweather to Pacquiao. It would be interesting to review the documents that USADA did not produce.
The list of distortions in USADA’s “Detailed Correction” goes on.
In “Can Boxing Trust USADA?”, I wrote, “Drug testing, if it is to inspire confidence, should be largely transparent. Much of USADA’s operation insofar as boxing is concerned is shrouded in secrecy . . . The organization has resisted filing its boxer drug-testing contracts with governing state athletic commissions. On several occasions, New York and Nevada have forced the issue. Compliance has often been slow in coming. When asked to identify the boxing matches for which a USADA drug-testing contract was filed with either the New York or Nevada State Athletic Commissions, [USADA CEO] Travis Tygart declined through a spokesperson (USADA senior communications manager Annie Skinner) to answer the question.”
In response, USADA’s “Detailed Correction” claims, “This is inaccurate. Mr. Hauser fails to attribute this information to a source or specifically indicate the ‘several occasions’ on which the referenced commissions allegedly forced USADA to disclose its testing agreements. USADA has never been forced to disclose a testing agreement. When requested, for valid reasons given, we have provided copies of those contracts to the appropriate commission. That includes both the Nevada and New York commissions [italics added].”
All right. To cite an example, USADA declined to give its drug testing contract for the April 11, 2015, fight between Andy Lee and Peter Quillin to the New York State Athletic Commission. Ultimately, the commission obtained a copy from DiBella Entertainment (Lee’s promoter). And that copy wasn’t even signed by Quillin.
More to the point; what right does USADA have to decide whether a request by a state athletic commission for a drug-testing contract is “valid”? The state athletic commission is the government entity with jurisdiction over the fight. USADA shouldn’t be deciding what the commission is and isn’t entitled to.
Similarly, “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” notes that USADA does not give full test results to the state athletic commission that governs a fight. It gives the commission summaries that state whether a fighter has tested positive or negative.
USADA responded in its “Detailed Correction”, “USADA has no objection in principle to providing State Athletic Commissions access to test results if used appropriately under the WADA ISPPPI and only for legitimate anti-doping purposes.”
Again; what right does USADA have to determine what is legitimate and appropriate?
There are times when USADA’s “Detailed Correction” reads like a bad joke.
“Can Boxing Trust USADA?” states, “Thereafter, [Travis] Tygart moved aggressively to expand USADA’s footprint in boxing and forged a working relationship with Richard Schaefer, who until 2014 served as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, one of boxing’s most influential promoters.”
The “Detailed Correction” indignantly responds, “This is misleading. It’s unclear what Mr. Hauser is trying to insinuate. There is no personal relationship between Mr. Tygart and Mr. Schaefer and the two have never met in person.”
I didn’t write that there was a “personal” relationship between Travis Tygart and Richard Schaefer. I wrote that they “forged a working relationship.” Yet this passage is specifically cited as an example of how “USADA has been viciously and unjustifiably maligned by Mr. Hauser.” Strange reaction on the part of USADA. I didn’t comment on or ask about Travis Tygart’s personal relationships.
Moreover, USADA’s “Detailed Correction” fails to satisfactorily explain the agency’s behavior with regard to the Erik Morales fiasco.
USADA now claims that it notified the New York State Athletic Commission by telephone on October 17, 2012, that Morales had tested positive for Clenbuterol. But as noted in “Can Boxing Trust USADA?”, on August 10, 2015, Laz Benitez (a spokesperson for the New York State Department of State, which oversees the NYSAC) advised in writing, “There is no indication in the Commission’s files that it was notified of this matter prior to October 18, 2012.”
Since then, a September 18, 2015, response by Helen Wilbard (an assistant records access officer for the New York State Department of State) to a Freedom of Information Law request has confirmed that the NYSAC has no record of any communication from USADA regarding Erik Morales testing positive for Clenbuterol prior to that information becoming public knowledge on October 18.
Would USADA really notify a state athletic commission about a serious drug violation by telephone only? Where is the back-up documentation?
There isn’t any. USADA concedes in its “Detailed Correction” that It “did not send any written follow-up” to the NYSAC regarding the supposed October 17 telephone conversation.
Then there’s the crowning jewel in USADA’s “Detailed Correction” regarding Erik Morales. USADA proclaims that, eventually, it “commenced an anti-doping rule violation proceeding against Mr. Morales that resulted in the athlete being sanctioned with a two-year period of ineligibility.”
The problem with that is, USADA had no authority to suspend Morales. Indeed, USADA’s own “Detailed Correction” later acknowledges, “USADA does not have the authority to prevent a fight from occurring.”
I could go on. But the facts (or, as USADA would say, the “accurate facts”) speak for themselves.
It’s hard to imagine how many corporate executives, lawyers, and public relations experts worked on USADA’s “Detailed Correction” statement. If this is the best that they could come up with after eight days of trying, then USADA has a problem.
USADA can recite The Lord’s Prayer backwards in its PR handouts, but that won’t change what it has done.
And let’s not forget; USADA is hired by and contracts with the fighters it’s supposed to be testing. Indeed, there are times when it seems as though USADA collects drug-testing payments the way boxing’s world sanctioning organizations collect sanctioning fees.
The cost of USADA’s testing that we know of has ranged from $36,000 for Andy Lee vs. Peter Quillin to $150,000 for Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao.
Does anyone see a problem here? A Major League Baseball player can’t choose the drug-testing agency that tests him and negotiate a fee with that agency. It would be laughable to suggest that New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez (who was suspended for the entire 2014 season after being found in violation of Major League Baseball’s drug policy) could designate which agency tests him and then pay that agency out of his own pocket.
A National Football League player can’t say, “I don’t want this testing agency. They caught me using a banned substance last year.” But that’s precisely what happens in boxing. VADA (the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency) tested Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson, both of whom tested positive for the presence of prohibited performance enhancing drugs in their system. What happened next? Both fighters refused to test again with VADA and opted for USADA.
USADA allows Floyd Mayweather and some of the other boxers it tests to dictate when drug testing begins. If Olympic athletes could dictate the date on which drug testing began, world records for races from 100 meters to the marathon would be considerably lower than they are today.
How many U.S. Olympic athletes in the condition that Floyd Mayweather was in on May 1 have received IVs of 750 milliliters or more while a USADA doping control officer was present? How many U.S. Olympic athletes have been given a retroactive therapeutic use exemption for a similar IV eighteen days after competing in their Olympic event?
And one more question. In responding to “Can Boxing Trust USADA?”, the United States Anti-Doping Agency issued a September 10 statement that read, “There are certainly those in the sport of professional boxing who appear committed to preventing an independent and comprehensive anti-doping program from being implemented in the sport, and who wish to advance an agenda that fails to put the interests of clean athletes before their own.”
I can think of several physical conditioners and fighters who might be against an independent and comprehensive anti-doping program. Who did USADA have in mind when it made that statement? If USADA is suggesting by innuendo that I’m on that list, I categorically reject that notion.
By and large, the people who are asking questions about the implementation of USADA’s drug testing program for boxing are the people who care about boxing the most.
Hours before Manny Pacquiao entered the ring to fight Floyd Mayweather, his request to be injected with Toradol (a legal substance) to ease the pain caused by a torn rotator cuff was denied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission because the request was not made in a timely manner. In explaining the NSAC’s decision, commission chairman Francisco Aguilar told the media, “There is a process. And when you try to screw with the process, it's not going to work for you.”
USADA and Mayweather appear to have screwed with the process. Let’s see if it works for them in the end.
As Winston Churchill once proclaimed, “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it. Ignorance may deride it. But in the end, there it is.”
Thomas Hauser can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His most recent book (Thomas Hauser on Boxing) was published by the University of Arkansas Press. The opinions expressed in this article are those of Mr. Hauser and do not necessarily represent the views of BoxNation.