Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s insistence that his opponents agree to random blood and urine testing for performance-enhancing drugs gained an unexpected ally yesterday when it was announced that unified junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson came up dirty in a test he insisted on being conducted.
Peterson was set to defend his titles in a rematch with former champion Amir Khan May 19 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas but came up positive for synthetic testosterone after a random test conducted in March by Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, a Las Vegas-based group run by former Nevada State Athletic Commission ringside physician Dr. Margaret Goodman.
According to a letter sent from Voluntary Anti-Doping Association to the Nevada Commission, ‘Peterson tested positive for a substance “consistent with the administration of an anabolic steroid such as testosterone.’’
What makes the story even odder is that it was Peterson who insisted both fighters be tested randomly, as Mayweather has demanded of his opponents since talks first began about a showdown with Manny Pacquiao several years ago. Since then Mayweather has faced Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto. All were randomly tested for PEDs without incident, as was Mayweather.
Although promoter Bob Arum now claims Pacquiao is willing to accept random testing up to the day before the fight, Pacquiao has not been quite so definitive. He originally flatly refused and only grudgingly began to agree, at one point accepting it up only until two weeks before the fight. When it was pointed out that anyone using PEDS who was well versed in the timing of such things could easily elude detection, Arum ultimately said Pacquiao would comply but financial differences have since prevented the fight from happening.
But the issue remains a controversial one, some arguing one fighter should not be allowed to force another to comply with testing demands not mandated by the state commission while Mayweather and others argue this is merely an effort to assure a level playing field in the most concussive sport on earth.
“I think since I’m the face of boxing I have totally changed the sport of boxing I’m the reason why they don’t talk about heavyweights anymore,’’ Mayweather said last week, before Peterson’s positive test came to light.
“I’m the one outside the box. I’m doing record turning numbers. So since I’m the face of the sport I should be always trying to change the sport and make the sport a lot better and the best thing is to always put every man on an even playing field.
“Everyone should be on an even playing field. That’s what I truly believe. I think that Manny Pacquiao has done a lot in the sport but he should also be standing behind me and say, ‘We should clean up the sport because I’m a clean athlete.’ I’m letting the world know Floyd Mayweather is a clean athlete and if you’re the best step up and take the test.’’
Peterson seemed to feel the same way, insisting he and Khan agree to random testing. Now he’s been caught in the web he wove, likely insisting there was some sort of testing flaw, a claim it seems nearly every athlete who tests positive tries to claim.
“We have tremendous respect for VADA and its mission,” said Peterson’s attorney, Jeff Fried, in a statement to ESPN. “Lamont, (trainer/manager) Barry (Hunter) and the entire team emphatically support random drug testing in the most comprehensive manner possible. We are working expeditiously with a team of pathologists and other medical specialists to confirm the origin of the test result and in full compliance with the rules of the Nevada Athletic Commission.
“Lamont has never had a positive test either before or after this isolated occurrence and we plan to submit the medical findings by close of business Tuesday reflecting the actual facts in support of Lamont's good faith intentions and the requirements of the commission.”
Golden Boy Promotions, who is bankrolling the fight, spent the day scrambling to handle the fallout of the positive test, which threatened the fight. By midday GBP CEO Richard Schaefer had expressed his anger that he was not notified until Monday of a problem and that the “B’’ sample, which also tested positive, was not tested for several weeks after the first test.
Both Khan and Peterson were asked for a urine sample on March 19 while making a promotional appearance at a news conference in Los Angeles. The samples were taken to the UCLA Olympic Analytical Lab, a facility accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which oversees drug testing for the Olympics.
Peterson’s positive test was reported to VADA on April 12 and Peterson was informed the next day. The B sample, also taken on March 19, was not tested until April 30 with at least one representative of Peterson present. When that also came up positive the Nevada commission was notified May 3.
Peterson has the right to appeal and was in the process of filing paperwork with the Commission claiming the positive test was a result of a one-time medication taken for an undisclosed medical situation. A later test taken on April 13 came back negative.
The Commission now will review the test results and Peterson’s appeal before ruling on whether he will be allowed to fight.
“That is all I know at this point,” Schaefer said in a teleconference with the boxing media. “I would assume by (Wednesday) or the latest the day after we will know where we stand. Amir Khan continues to train. He is fully aware of the situation. He is very disappointed, but he is going to follow whatever the athletic commission is going to rule. And that's where we stand.
“My full focus is to work with the Nevada State Athletic Commission and get to the bottom of this and do what is right. This demonstrates the importance of random drug testing and how important it is to the sport of boxing. This is not about hitting a baseball or running faster or jumping higher. This is toe-to-toe battle where one's life is at risk every time these young athletes enter the ring.”
Regardless of how the Commission rules on Khan-Peterson, the larger issue speaks to the one Mayweather has been championing for some time: in a sport as inherently dangerous and concussive as boxing, where the aim is to render a man unconscious if at all possible, shouldn’t every means possible be used to insure both combatants are on a level playing field?
Everyone knows where Floyd Mayweather stands on this and now another fighter who claimed to feel the same way has apparently ended up on the wrong side of the issue. What this makes you wonder is when are state commissions and international sanctioning bodies going to enter the real world and insist all fighters be randomly tested before they step into the ring with mayhem on their minds?