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Boxing has no standard for drug testing

Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez haven't been tested and procedures vary across the country. Nevada official says state practices discretion.

December 05, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Manny Pacquiao, left, and Juan Manuel Marquez pose for photos during a news conference Wednesday.
Manny Pacquiao, left, and Juan Manuel Marquez pose for photos during a news… (Julie Jacobson / Associated…)

LAS VEGAS — The erratic state of drug testing in boxing is perhaps best revealed in the absence of scrutiny faced by Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez before their Saturday fight.

Neither boxer has submitted a blood or urine sample.

"I would like uniform testing, but there's no plan," said veteran fight promoter Gary Shaw, who is not involved in the Pacquiao-Marquez bout. "It has to start with the boxing commissions, and they have to get serious about it. Barry Bonds, he was hitting baseballs for home runs. Our guys are hitting brains."

One drug-testing group is the Nevada-based Volunteer Anti-Doping Assn., which asks fighters if they will submit to testing before their bouts.

This year VADA collected positive tests that caused two significant fights to be scrapped. Junior-welterweight champion Lamont Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone, causing his May 19 title defense against Amir Khan to be canceled.

Former welterweight champion Andre Berto's sample tested positive for a steroid, forcing him out of a June fight against Victor Ortiz at Staples Center, angering Berto's promoter, Golden Boy.

Yet, the California State Athletic Commission licensed Berto to fight in November after his attorney claimed the small steroid level indicated contamination in the boxer's test sample.

Since then, Golden Boy stopped working with VADA and is associating with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to test fighters.

USADA discovered the banned weight-loss substance clenbuterol in former world champion Erik Morales, but Golden Boy and the New York State Athletic Commission let Morales' junior-welterweight title shot proceed in October against Danny Garcia. Garcia won by fourth-round knockout.

On Nov. 27, USADA informed Morales he faces a two-year competition ban because the second B drug sample he provided was also positive for clenbuterol.

"What happened in New York was ludicrous," said promoter Bob Arum, of Top Rank, who advocates that the Assn. of Boxing Commissions install a system in which state commissions alone preside over testing, billing promoters for the fees.

Meanwhile, Pacquiao and Marquez never sought drug testing before this fight, so Arum — who is their promoter — said he did not pursue the expense.

Keith Kizer, executive officer of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said he exercises discretion in drug testing, sometimes implementing random tests such as the one that nabbed Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title contender Alistair Overeem for elevated testosterone earlier this year.

Marquez has noticeably bulked up for Saturday's fight and his conditioning coach is Angel "Memo" Heredia, a former steroid supplier to Olympic track stars, who later became a government witness.

Kizer said his commission opted not to randomly test Pacquiao or Marquez. They've never tested positive, Kizer noted, and the commission will conduct standard pre- and post-fight drug tests.

When Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach last week said he suspected Marquez of not bulking up naturally, Marquez responded that the Nevada commission can "test me now."

"The fight's going to happen in days," Arum said. "If someone's been working 11 weeks and went through a cycle" of using performance-enhancing drugs, "that cycle's over.

"It's not for me to live with," Arum added. "This is for the regulators."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire

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