USADA over the years have undergone infamous criticism from the boxing community of being untrustworthy. There have been talks of not disclosing information, throwing away samples, having a lack a jurisdiction, and making secretive deals with Golden Boy. Now these conflicts and accusations can finally be put to rest.
Danny Garcia vs. Eric Morales Rematch
The biggest bit of controversy involves the Danny Garcia vs. Eric Morales rematch. According to the USADA website, “Morales, 36, tested positive for clenbuterol (a prohibited anabolic agent), in two separate urine samples collected out-of-competition on October 3, 2012 and October 10, 2012.” Despite testing positive in two separate occasions, Morales was still allowed to fight Garcia on October 20th as planned. How is this possible?
The Garcia camp was notified of the positive tests and responded by telling Maxboxing.com, “Look, [Morales] took the test, he failed it. That’s the whole reason we took the tests or we would have never taken the tests. We are not fighting tomorrow.” Garcia’s team, which involves Al Haymon and Golden Boy also told Maxboxing.com, “We will leave it to the New York Commission. They said if [Morales] second test [collected October 13] came positive that it was ok and ‘They will take it out of your hands and he won’t fight.’ And the second test came back and they still said ’Ok.”
Eric Morales was also notified of his positive results and received a letter from USADA: http://cdn1www.ringtv.craveonline.com/assets/uploads/2013/02/file_177195_2_Morales_USADA_letter_1.jpg
Here is the second portion of the letter: http://cdn3www.ringtv.craveonline.com/assets/uploads/2013/02/file_177195_4_Morales_USADA_letter_2.jpg
From this vantage point, both camps and the commission knew Morales had tested positive twice for a banned substance. Yahoo Sports claimed USADA stated: “The appropriate boxing commission was notified prior to the fight, and within 48 hours of USADA receiving the information, that there was a potential anti-doping rule violation.” The reason why the words “potential anti-doping rule violation” were chosen was due to one of USADA’s policies which states, “The athlete can choose to accept the sanction or challenge the sanction at an arbitration hearing in front of independent judges from the American Arbitration Association (AAA).” Morales had chosen to challenge the sanction by claiming he ate contaminated meat, and it is a known fact clenbuterol can come from a consumption of contaminated meat.
Under the clenbuterol category in the USADA website it clearly says, “It is possible that under certain circumstance the presence of a low level of clenbuterol in an athlete sample can be the result of food contamination. However, each case is different and all elements need to be taken into account, along with the context of the case. Under the World Anti-Doping Code, result management of cases foresees the opportunity for an athlete to explain how a prohibited substance entered his/her body.”
Now it is an uncommon anomaly of clenbuterol being detected based off a consumption of contaminated meat, but USADA wants to make sure the case is thoroughly investigated for legal reasons. They don’t want to be responsible for wrongfully suspending an athlete under their jurisdiction. This might have been the reason why NYSAC did not disqualify Morales, even though they told the Garcia camp they would if the second test came back positive. USADA was unable to have conclusive evidence of cheating at the moment, but notified both camps and the commission of their findings.
Whether the NYSAC or Golden Boy promotions should have terminated the bout based off the evidence that was given, should be up to them. If there is a high suspicion of a fighter cheating, it’s understandable that people would say yes ban the fight, given how dangerous the sport could be. People have speculated, since there was a lot of money on the line, businessmen would be hesitant to terminate a bout based off of non-conclusive evidence despite the overwhelming odds of Morales being found guilty.
This can be the reason why according to Maxboxing.com, “The decision to fight or not was left to the Garcia’s by the network and Golden Boy.”
Gabriel Montoya’s article on Maxboxing.com has also criticized this entire situation by stating, “Prior to the 2008 Olympics, swimmer Jessica Hardy was notified her “A” sample had tested positive for clenbuterol. What is important to note is that Ms. Hardy was not given the option by USADA to compete in the Olympics following her positive drug test and then enter the adjudication process. She was not offered an opportunity to keep giving samples until one came back negative so as to compete in the Olympics. The bottom line is that Hardy’s days as a competitor were immediately suspended following her positive “A” sample test.”
“Hardy immediately withdrew from the competition and began the related legal process. She ultimately received a one year suspension. Why was Erik Morales, who agreed to abide to the same WADA code under contractual agreement with USADA, allowed to fight despite his positive tests? And why did the NYSAC allow it?”
The reasoning is Ms. Hardy chose to withdraw from the competition herself. She was given the option to contest the test results, and according to Swimmerworldmagazine.com, NBC Olympics.com stated, “both her [Hardy’s] A and B samples have come back positive,” which contradicts the statement from Maxboxing.com, “Hardy’s days as a competitor were immediately suspended following her positive ‘A’ sample test.”
USADA on their website explained the situation, “While Ms. Hardy could have contested the drug test results before the American Arbitration Association (AAA)/North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (NCAS) and thereafter potentially filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport thereby keeping her Olympic berth in doubt until the eve of the Games, Hardy instead agreed to step aside to allow her teammates to put their focus on their performances. While some might have chosen to exhaust their legal options to try to force their way into the Games, Jessica instead chose to put her team’s interests ahead of her own.”
USADA’s testing procedures have also been criticized. People have questioned, why does USADA need a B sample if an A sample had already tested positive. Aren’t they just testing the athlete until he/she finally delivers a negative result? No, this is standard procedure due to the possibility of a false positive. Even VADA does a similar procedure of allowing an athlete to retest on a B sample, if the A sample comes out positive.
On the VADA website it states, “Sufficient proof of a doping violation is established by either of the following: presence of a prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers in the Athlete’s A Sample where the Athlete waives analysis of the B Sample and the B Sample is not analyzed; or, where the Athlete’s B Sample is analyzed and the analysis of the Athlete’s B Sample confirms the presence of the prohibited substance or its metabolites or markers found in the athlete’s A Sample. VADA may in its discretion choose to have the B Sample analyzed even if the athlete does not request the analysis of the B Sample.”
(Important note: Morales received a 2 year-suspension. It’s uncertain if the boxing commissions will be in charge of withholding the jurisdictions of USADA, but this information is open to the public on the USADA website. If Morales was allowed to fight again, the commission should be the one taking full blame to its negligence, not USADA.)
Adrien Broner vs. Antonio Demarco Controversy
This is probably the easiest case to explain. The controversy lies on the fact Broner’s camp, and Demarco’s camp both agreed on USADA testing, but never received it.
According to Maxboxing.com, “On October 20, Margules received a USADA agreement and was given until Friday October 26 to get it back signed to Golden Boy so the testing process could begin. The fight was three weeks and a day away when Margules sent the contract back signed. Broner’s team, promoted by Golden Boy but advised by Al Haymon, had already sent their paperwork in.”
Both camps notified each other that USADA has not tested them and complaints began to arise.
USADA’s Annie Skinner released this statement to Maxboxing.com: “USADA was contacted regarding a potential testing program for the fight between Mr. DeMarco and Mr. Broner. The program was never finalized however, as it was determined that USADA would not have had adequate time to conduct a thorough testing program in line with our standards, including the proper athlete education, numerous sample collections, and lab analysis all to be completed prior to the fight. We notified them that we would not be able to accommodate their request due to the short time frame.”
The reason why USADA did not randomly test these fighters, was due to the fact Margules submitted the contract past the deadline. Again according to Maxboxing.com, “Margules received a USADA agreement and was given until Friday October 26 to get it back signed to Golden Boy so the testing process could begin. The fight was three weeks and a day away when Margules sent the contract back signed.” This explanation involves simple arithmetic.
The deadline to submit the contract is on Oct. 26.
Margules submitted the contract 3 Weeks + 1 day before the fight.
The fight took place on November 17.
This means the contract was submitted 22 days before Nov. 17
Which means they submitted the contract on Oct. 27, a day past the deadline of Oct 26.
This is very similar to when a teacher informs the class, an essay will be due on Feb. 1. Then a student submits his/her essay on Feb. 2, and the teacher explains to the student the essay will not be graded because it was submitted past the deadline. Then the student begins complaining how the system is unfair.
Ronald “Winky” Wright vs. Peter Quillin
This situation deals with USADA beginning its procedures for this bout, and then immediately pulling away and destroying the samples. This scenario is probably the only controversial case that holds credibility to a certain extent.
According to Maxboxing.com, “Just two days approximately after Quillin’s sample was taken and a day after Wright’s sample was taken, USADA contacted Wright’s lawyer and announced they would not be doing testing after all. The reason given was that USADA did not have the proper time to educate the fighters on what to take and what not to.”
This explanation is justifiable. USADA does require a big enough time span to undergo all of its procedures. This is the same reason why they pulled out of the Shawn Porter vs. Kell Brook bout. Initially Porter vs. Brook was scheduled for September but the date got pushed forward to August. USADA who was originally going to randomly test both fighters, but then explained they could not proceed because of the timespan being too short. Kenny Porter father of Shawn Porter stated, “Initially it was USADA, but the date changed for the fight. USADA needed a certain amount of time, to be able to do what they do.”
The Wright vs. Quillin situation is similar. Maboxing.com stated, “According to Wright, contracts were signed early last week. An exact date is forthcoming but somewhere around May 21 both sides had signed up for more testing. Peter Quillin discussed doing VADA testing on “The Boxing Lab” radio show Tuesday May 22. This writer tweeted a correction that night that it was in fact USADA testing he was doing.”
“The next day, May 23, this writer asked Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions if in fact, Wright and Quillin would be doing USADA testing. He told me no the testing was not happening due to the fact that the fight was happening June 2. There was no time to establish baselines and doing the testing properly with just two weeks to go, Schaefer said, was not possible.”
USADA did nothing wrong. They have the right to pull out of a fight immediately for a legitimate reason. As long, as they don’t test fighters throughout the entire training camp, and then choose to withhold results or pull out of a fight, then that would be highly suspicious, but it only took one or two days for USADA to opt out in this case.
The only problem that seems to be apparent in this matter is, why did they hand out the contracts, and tests these fighters in the first place? Two possible reasons, the date got pushed forward such as the Porter vs. Brook scenario, or they did not pay full attention to the date of the fight, and that’s not based off corruption just irresponsibility. Cases of irresponsible action is nothing new amongst random drug testing programs, even VADA had their own case.
Brandon Rios in a video done by ESNEWS allegedly claimed a VADA representative made him urinate in a glass cup, because they were unprepared with their own containers. Rios explained the VADA employee told him, “Take a piss in this glass cup, and when they come we’ll transfer it to the plastic container.” The Rios camp has actually discussed getting an attorney for the way VADA handled the situation but ultimately did not. This glass cup could have been contaminated beforehand, but no one is sure. This case is not a sign of corruption, but irresponsibility.
A quote from Maxboxing.com that really had people questioning USADA’s legitimacy is, “Wright, wondering what was going on, decided to at least get the samples taken tested. This morning, his lawyer informed him that according to USADA, the samples have all been destroyed.” This is not surprising they did this. USADA opted out of the Wright vs. Quillin fight in a fair manner, meaning they were no longer responsible for both parties. They were not required to continue testing or to give results.
Victor Conte has been adamant how USADA has many flaws in its system. This article done by ESPN proves some of Conte’s criticism of the program does not hold weight. http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/boxing/post/_/id/1430/usada-counters-conte-assertions
USADA is a well establish anti-doping program with a great reputation, and VADA is a relatively new anti-doping program specifically designed for combat sports.
These two programs are legitimate. There has not been any conclusive evidence that would indicate otherwise as of yet. The only thing I would advise is, if undergoing the USADA program make an agreement to cancel the fight if a fighter test positive on both A and B samples, because some of USADA’s investigations can take some time. Other than that, fighters should not hesitate to participate in either program.