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The flap over whether Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will ever agree to some form of Olympic-style drug testing has gotten more than old by this stage.
Mayweather wants the testing, he says, to ensure a level-playing field. Pacquiao has an aversion to giving blood close to an event, because he believes it weakens him, but is willing to submit unlimited urine samples and several blood samples as part of an agreed upon schedule.
But if the goal is to prevent the use of performance-enhancing substances, the testing likely won't matter, said a leading expert on the subject.
Victor Conte, the founder and president of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) said athletes perform better off steroids rather than on them and would simply taper in order to be clean by the time of the testing proposed in the Mayweather-Pacquiao talks.
"I still don't think it's effective testing," Conte said. "When they show up a couple of weeks before to test them, they've been using, those who choose to do so, anabolic steroids or testosterone, for several months. Then they very consciously do taper off, because they know that they perform better off of the drugs than on the drugs."
Rhadi Ferguson, a PhD and a strength and conditioning coach who has trained Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight Brandon Vera, represented the U.S. in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. He said he was subjected to random testing administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency many times, though he was not tested in the Games.
He said it is very difficult to prove usage of Erythropoietin, or EPO, which is one of the drugs that boxer Shane Mosley admitted to using prior to his 2003 fight with Oscar De La Hoya.
Ferguson scoffed at Pacquiao's argument that giving blood close to the event would in any way weaken him and said he felt Mayweather gained a great tactical advantage even if he ultimately concedes on the testing issue.
"The amount of blood they would take from him would be replenished by the body within one hour," said Ferguson, a distant relative of MMA star Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson. "It's a fallacious argument. It's also genius by the Mayweather camp to bring up the USADA testing even if Pacquiao refuses to do the testing or Mayweather concedes not to do it. Mayweather still has won, because even if Pacquiao does win the fight, there is still a shadow cast on Pacquiao's cleanliness, if you will."
Though many "final" deadlines have come and gone, this could still play out for a little more than another week. The actual deadline won't be until all the marketing plans need to be submitted and the ads for the cable and satellite guides are due. That will be sometime in the first week to 10 days of January.
With that, let's hope right to the mailbag to get your thoughts on the issue.
Marikina City, Philippines
Let's be honest, here, Maynard. Pacquiao is certainly willing to accept those $40 million American dollars, isn't he? Basically what you're saying is that everyone is corrupt and that in this instance, USADA would favor Mayweather and the Philippine Olympic Committee would favor Pacquiao. I simply don't buy that argument.
Don't you find it somewhat ironic that Manny is so outraged by Mayweather's request, yet he's willing to fight Paulie Malignaggi, a guy who has blatantly accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs? He's not walking because he wants the payday. I don't blame him, but it's not like he is on some moral high road here.
Yes. There are many, many ways and they're done all the time. Ferguson said one way USADA tries to combat cheating is by assigning a chaperone to an athlete. The minute he/she walks out of the ring/field of competition, a chaperone stays with him until the requested sample is delivered. Even that isn't foolproof, but it is a way to make beating the testing harder.
It's a contract negotiation and either side has the right to request whatever they want. You're right, it's the commission's role to ensure a fair fight and protect the boxers, but if the fighters agree to things above and beyond what the commission might do, they have that right. As for Pacquiao getting knocked out at lighter weights, it's been pretty well documented he had far outgrown his class. He moved straight from flyweight to super bantamweight because he was far too big for flyweight. I don't see anything strange in his move up through the classes. He was 17 when he turned pro and weighed 106 pounds. Mayweather won the National Golden Gloves when he was 16 and he weighed, you guessed it, 106 pounds.
Quezon City, Philippines
Nice idea, Carlo, but I don't see either guy agreeing to surrender $40 million because he tested positive. Guys have tested positive for taking over-the-counter cold medications. It's against the rules and should be punished, but should you forfeit the largest check of your career for that? I think not.
I'll take your idea of a boycott under consideration if and when it ever gets to that point, Juan. Sadly, though, I think this is primarily posturing, the sides will reach agreement and the fight will take place.
Paolo, I spoke to many leading drug-testing experts and all of them said without question Manny's position that he's weakened by giving blood is not supported by fact. The problem with agreeing to take it after the fight is that he could have used it, cycled off, gotten the benefits from it and passed all the tests. That said, I don't believe Pacquiao has taken steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs, but the easy way to prove that is to simply agree to the very non-intrusive tests.
- Manny Pacquiao