As with seemingly all pro sports–maybe bowling is exempt, for now–it seems as though the PED issue will loom larger, and will have to be hashed through for a spell more before we reach a point of clarity, let alone cleanliness.
Thomas Hauser released a story today on Maxboxing.com which set off shockwaves in the industry. The biggest boom came in the form of Hauser's reporting on word which had filtered through the PED testing community which indicates that Floyd Mayweather, who has cast himself as the top sheriff in cleaning up PED usage in the sport, tested positive on three occasions for PED usage.
“On May 20, 2012, a rumor filtered through the drug-testing community that Mayweather had tested positive on three occasions for an illegal performance-enhancing drug. More specifically, it was rumored that Mayweather’s “A” sample had tested positive on three occasions and, after each positive test, USADA had found exceptional circumstances in the form of inadvertent use and gave Floyd a waiver. This waiver, according to the rumor, negated the need for a test of Floyd’s “B” sample. And because the “B” sample was never tested, a loophole in USADA’s contract with Mayweather and Golden Boy allowed the testing to proceed without the positive “A” sample results being reported to Mayweather’s opponent or the Nevada State Athletic Commission (which had jurisdiction over the fights).”
Hauser was referencing a May flap between Golden Boy and his Maxboxing.com colleague, Gabriel Montoya. Golden Boy tried to lay a hammer down on Montoya for “spreading false information regarding Golden Boy's alleged involvement with the drug testing of boxers for prohibited substances.” Montoya received on May 23 a letter from an attorney representing Golden Boy which said that Montoya claimed to the Nevada State Athletic Commission “that Mr. Mayweather had tested positive on three occasions which were excused under the inadvertent use provision.” The attorney, in that letter, said Montoya should stop repeating the assertions and if not, legal action, including the pursuing of damages, against him might be forthcoming.
In the bombshell story, Hauser went on to say that Manny Pacquiao's people heard the “Floyd tested positive” rumor and basically, that led the Mayweather folks to settle, on Sept. 25, the lawsuit Pacquiao had filed against Mayweather and company for defamation, for alleging the Filipino used PEDS. (A source informed me that the settlement was in the low seven figure range, though terms of the deal were to be kept confidential.)
Hauser, who clerked for a federal judge and spent five years as a practicing litigator on Wall St. and beyond that is exceedingly judicious in the realm of reporting only what he knows to be fact, in my view, did make sure to acknowledge that he doesn't know with certainty whether Mayweather or Pacquiao has used illegal performance enhancing drugs. “I don’t know if Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao has used performance-enhancing drugs or not,” Hauser wrote.
The writer also referenced the PED cases involving Lamont Peterson, Andre Berto, Antonio Tarver and Erik Morales. He noted that he tried to get promoter Richard Schaefer, of Golden Boy, on the record to respond to some of the material he collected, but Schaefer declined to go on record with him. Hauser inserted a portion of an email Schaefer sent him regarding the story. “We are trying to do something positive and yet it seems that media and others are attacking us,” Schaefer wrote Hauser. “It would be easy for us to do nothing just like all other promoters. But by trying to support the fighters’ desire for additional testing, we are getting criticized.” (On Monday, I sent an email to Golden Boy asking if Schaefer would care to discuss the Hauser story and will publish his response if he chooses to do so. I also texted Mayweather's advisor Leonard Ellerbe to see if he wanted to weigh in, and hadn't heard back from him as yet.)
Hauser particularly scrutinized Peterson's excuse that he suffered from low testosterone, and that's why he resorted to testosterone boosters, and Berto's public dismay that the case was handled unfairly, because it played out in the media, without explanations being offered why samples showed presence of a steroid. The writer noted Berto's plea that, “Nothing was really explained to the public” rings hollow, because Berto's own lawyer wouldn't allow the testing agency to release pertinent information. (I have found it strange, to say the least, that Berto hasn't publicly tracked the supplement which tainted his test, and shared with the press what that supplement was, if only to prevent other unfortunates from ingesting a banned substance unknowingly. If he has done so, I missed that move. Maybe there is a reason I can't summon why he hasn't outed that tainted supplement.)
I reached out to a member of the Mayweather camp, David Levi. He told me, after I asked for a chat with Mayweather to get his take on the Hauser piece, “I don't think Floyd would bother commenting on a made up story. He's been testing for years and is the forefront of cleaning up the sport. The article makes it seem like the settlement was made because of some drug testing involving Floyd which is not the case at all.”
My take: the PED black cloud is depressing to me, and so many sports fans. Most of us hope that the magic we see these athletes perform comes from their superior skills, their talent, hard work and dedication, not sneaky chemists, and a flexible or nonexistent moral compass. This year's spate of positive tests has led me to wonder if the number of top boxers using is greater than the ones using. Is everyone dirty? Of course, some fans have already fallen into a zone of cynicism, assuming that they all cheat, and if they all cheat, then the playing field is even. Peterson, who demanded PED testing from Amir Khan, and Berto, who insinuated that Victor Ortiz was using after Ortiz beat him, if those guys tested positive, I wondered, who can be trusted? Could it be possible that people are so slick and cynical to on the one hand demand that the sport clean up its act, while on the other hand, are feeding themselves banned chemicals in order to build up their strength and/or stamina? That's the sort of odious and devious scheming I'd hope would be left to those in the upper reaches of politics…
Say it ain't so. And if you don't mind, leave us a sample, just to be sure. Because it is hard to know who to believe in a saga that gets more sordid.
Hauser promises Part II of the PED story tomorrow.