COMMENTARY | This Saturday at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., Erik Morales will likely be taking on Danny Garcia in a world title bout after having reportedly tested positive for a banned substance.
At first, it was reported that there were "irregularities" in the blood samples provided by the 4-division world champ to the United States Anti-Doping Association (USADA) prior to his junior welterweight title clash with Garcia.
Then, rumors started circulating that the irregularities centered around the drug, clenbuterol, a banned substance normally used as a decongestant and bronchodilator, but adopted by athletes as a weight loss agent. In his last bout, also with Danny Garcia, Morales forfeited his WBC title when he failed to make the 140-pound limit. The legendary Mexican fighter has struggled with weight issues for a good portion of his career, especially during his last few years in the sport.
Recently, though, Bob Velin of USA Today reported another take on the story. Citing an anonymous source with "knowledge of the test results" Velin wrote that the banned substance was actually an anabolic steroid and not the previously mentioned clenbuterol.
Since there is a confidentiality agreement between the fighters and the testing agency, the real story isn't likely to come out any time soon, unless Morales, himself, decides to step forward and tell all. Right now, the version making the rounds among boxing media is the one that points to clenbuterol. Apparently, Morales' people are claiming that there was only a slight trace of the substance in his system and that it came from the fighter eating contaminated meat (Cattle in Mexico can be treated with clenbuterol for a variety of disorders).
It is known, however, that Morales' fight with Garcia this Saturday will likely go ahead as planned.
For those questioning the wisdom of allowing a possible PEDs cheat to carry on with his plans to fight, they can blame a built-in escape clause for the promoters-- a glitch in the methodology and an ugly technicality that would allow such a seemingly reckless practice.
For a fighter to be officially prohibited from fighting, two separate samples have to test positive. In Morales' case, his Sample A has tested positive, but Sample B isn't scheduled for testing until after Saturday's contest.
So, barring some wise intervention from the New York State Athletic Commission, the fight will go on. Morales may not be allowed to accept either WBA or WBC belts should he win, but that's hardly any consolation for his opponent, who will be asked to step into the ring against someone who is likely fighting dirty.
Morales is the third high-profile fighter this year to test positive for a banned substance under voluntary PEDs testing protocol and yet another example of why this all-volunteer system is simply not working.
Lamont Peterson and Andre Berto, who tested positive under testing by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), forfeited one big fight apiece and suffered some negative publicity, but are poised to make their ring returns in high-profile bouts less than one year later. Berto will be facing Robert Guerrero for Guerrero's interim WBC welterweight title while Peterson was rumored to be in the running for a second bout with Timothy Bradley.
Meanwhile, the two high-profile fighters who failed commission tests this year, Antonio Tarver and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., look to observe non-negotiable mandatory suspensions and fines.
The moral of this story is that any testing, no matter who is doing it, will be pointless unless it is backed up by the power of some sort of commission.
The line of fighters to volunteer themselves for blood testing is growing each and every day, but it's little more than a publicity ploy if the fighters and their management are allowed to control the terms under which testing takes place. And it's all just one big, ugly joke if nobody has the authority to issue any sanctions for failed tests or, worse yet, if there's no one who can even stop these athletes from fighting dirty immediately after testing positive.
This Saturday, unless someone steps up and has the good sense to call things off, Morales may be fighting Danny Garcia with a banned substance flowing through his system- He knows it, we know it, Golden Boy knows it. If this goes through, boxing has reached a new low.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, and a close follower of the sport for more than 30 years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and The BoxingTribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing.
Bob Velin, Boxer Erik Morales tests positive for anabolic steroid, USA Today
Dan Rafael, Erik Morales fails drug test, ESPN
Salvador Rodriguez, Rene Umanzor, Erik Morales Reportedly Tests Positive For Clenbuterol, Boxingscene
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- Erik Morales
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