A failed drug testing agreement was the hot topic of the day during a Feb. 24 conference call promoting the upcoming title fight between Sergey Kovalev and Jean Pascal. On 8, December 2014, Kovalev agreed to fight Pascal on 14 March at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, where he will be defending his WBO, IBF and WBA Light Heavyweight titles.
As early as 20 Jan 2014, Jean Pascal requested draconian testing for both boxers, but Kovalev’s promoter, Kathy Duva of Main Events, declined to intervene at the time because she is not a particular fan of promoters who over-regulate. But gave the green light to the harsher testing as long as Pascal paid for it and if the agency was the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, also known as the VADA.
“We have been approached by the Pascal camp about doing drug testing. We agreed. We agreed to go to the people at VADA. Jean Pascal said he did not agree to go to VADA. He originally offered to pay for it. He wasn’t going to pay for VADA, so we decided that since he didn’t want to pay the lower fee for the much more credible organization, and then he mustn’t been serious about that, so there will be no drug testing.”
Greg Leon, the CEO of Jean Pascal Promotions, then responded to the ostentatious comments.
“First things first, VADA didn’t come into the game until the 11th hour,” Leon replied. “I was negotiating with Main Events attorney, Patrick English, and we were trying to land in a place that Pascal originally planned on with the protocol he’s had in place since 2013.
Out of the two athletes fighting on March 14, only one of them has been tested randomly over 10 times, and that’s Jean Pascal. It’s unfortunate we could not land on a mutual organization, but it is what it is. Main Events shouldn’t be caring what Pascal is spending on a test if he’s willing to pay for all of it.”
When asked who tested Pascal and who the results were reported to, Leon answered expeditiously.
“Jean does WADA-compliant testing and the company picking up the testing was IBTM.”
The results also get reported to the promoters and the athletic commission.
“It’s a shame Main Events wouldn’t allow us to pay for the protocol that’s been in place for Jean Pascal since 2013,” Leon said.
Duva responded with an ultimatum.
“And our position is Sergey Kovalev is the champion of the world, and he will choose the protocol or we won’t do it.”
Jean Pascal and Bernard Hopkins battled to a draw in December 2010 in a match that most analysts saw Hopkins winning. Hopkins dropped to the canvas twice in the opening frame- once on a rabbit punch, and could have been ruled an accidental foul.
Prior to their rematch in 2011, Pascal called out Hopkins at the press conference asking if he was willing to take a drug test. After Pascal had placed his right hand on Hopkins’s shoulder during his act, Hopkins shoved Pascal back, and the two had to be separated as they nearly came to blows.
Pascal strives to be boxing’s Leonardo DiCaprio, but his style of psychological warfare misses the mark. If anything, it’s a French-Canadian version of SpongeBob Squarepants who left the legendary Hopkins (Squidward) in a fit of pique. Furthermore, does Jean Pascal have any room to articulate in this discussion? Pascal’s strength and conditioning coach is none other than Angel “Memo” Heredia, a chemist known for devising methods that reduce the chance of detection in drug tests, allowing athletes to cheat with no consequences.
Heredia is known for working with famed Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez, who has been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs since his fourth bout with Manny Pacquiao. When asked why Team Pascal felt they were in a position to demand a protocol for testing and force Kovalev to cave into his demands as the B-side, Leon defended his fighter.
“It wasn’t a matter of caving into demand,” Leon said attempting to assure fans. “They said they had no problem with drug testing if we agreed to pay for it. We agreed to pay for it; then it became company-specific. Why did it have to become company-specific if we were paying for it? I can answer every question you have with a question. We’ll just dance around in circles.”
Pascal expressed how felt of the drug testing situation; Pascal just wants to focus on winning the fight on March 14.
“I wanted to make the test to show the world that I’m a clean fighter, that Kovalev is a clean fighter as well,” Pascal stated. “But most importantly, it’s that we are in a clean sport because I really, really believe in a clean sport. I wanted to show the world that we’re champions, but we are clean at the same time. Right now I’m not worried about anything. I’m just focusing on my task, and my task is to train well and win the fight on March 14th.”
Regardless, he is disappointed.
“Of course I am disappointed. When you have nothing to hide, you take the test,” Pascal said. “You don’t come up with a specific agency to make the test.”
While Pascal was attempting to make his point, someone on the line said, “You better shut up.” It is unclear whether that was an individual from Kovalev or Pascal’s team. The demand did not stop Pascal.
“Why do you want to have a specific agency to make the test when you know I’m the one who’s paying for it? You’re not paying for it. I’m the one who’s paying for it. Any agency in the world can make the test. I don’t care, but why does Kovalev only want to deal with one specific agency? It is what it is, and right now I’m just moving forward, and I just hope that Kovalev is clean.”
A flustered Duva, agitated by Pascal’s antics, wants the world to know that there is nothing to worry about.
“I’d like to put this to rest, once and for all from the Kovalev side He is clean. He is quite clean. He was willing to take a test in VADA, the only agency that’s ever actually reported anyone having taken drugs and having them penalized for it in boxing,” said Duva.
“He was willing to go to that agency which is above reproach, and for some reason the Pascal people, who were told they could go to any agency they wanted, but that Sergey was going to go to the one that he knew was of the highest caliber and without any clouds or questions about whether it reported the results properly or took the tests properly, he was willing to go to that agency, and they said no. End of story. We’re no going to talk about it anymore.”
Pascal responded by saying that VADA had no credibility because they only work with boxers, which is actually a false statement.
“Jean, that’s not true,” Duva said. “Please don’t say VADA has no credibility. That’s just rude.”
Pascal was not done quite yet and reached for the furnace.
“They only test boxers. They don’t test any other sport. (False) We are willing to deal with a real agency, so with that VADA (expletive), just leave it alone, because they’re not credible because they only test boxers. And plus, VADA is with Victor Conte. Victor Conte is.”
Someone from Pascal’s team cut him off, and that was the end of the drug testing discussion.
If Pascal was trying to get in the head of Kovalev and his team, I have to say that was a worthy try, but the gas tank ran out, which also led to his loss against Bernard Hopkins I might add. Maybe I am wrong. Perhaps Jean Pascal has a legitimate beef with Sergey Kovalev. After all, in 2011, Kovalev knocked out Roman Simakov so badly in a fight, Simakov fell into a coma and died three days later. But, I am willing to bet Pascal is playing games, but if legendary Hopkins could not get into the head of Kovalev, it’s not likely going to happen for the 32-year old Pascal.
But, it’s going to be a good fight regardless. We will see if Jean Pascal can take the heavy leather of Kovalev on 14 March from the Bell Centre in Montreal.