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Mailbag: Doping decisions

You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI

Not surprisingly, my news story that revealed the final blood draw taken from Floyd Mayweather Jr. was 18 days before his May 1 fight with Shane Mosley generated a lot of comment from Yahoo! Sports readers.

I'll respond to questions and comments about that, another about the Yahoo! Sports rankings and several about the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez fight in this week's edition of the boxing mailbag.

Pacquiao's stance

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Manny Pacquiao argues drawing blood close to a fight affects performance.
( Frank Franklin II/AP)

If Travis Tygart, the CEO of the United States Anti-Doping Agency says "If you know you aren't going to be tested within the last 14 days, you can cheat and get away with it," doesn't this mean that current boxing drug testing procedures accommodate doping? If this is the case, shouldn't we assume that we are watching doped fights? When Pacquiao says that he thinks drawing blood close to a fight would affect his performance, sports writers point out that there is no scientific evidence for this, but usually give Manny some cover with something along the lines of "but all athletes have their rituals and superstitions." This misses an important point. Let's assume Manny is clean. What he's effectively saying is that he's more afraid of a blood draw than he is of allowing his opponents to use performance-enhancing drugs, which are undetectable under the current system. Since blood draws don't impact performance, and performance-enhancing drugs are called performance-enhancing drugs for a very good reason, let's just say that Manny's take on things is unique to say the least. When Manny says that going from a testing system which accommodates doping to one designed to catch and punish it threatens to undermine his performance, I think we should take his words at face value. He's a professional at the top of his game, and I think he knows exactly what he's talking about.

Jason Rhodes
Athens, Ga.

I believe there is a problem with performance-enhancing drugs in boxing and I'm sure we've all watched a number of fights in which one, or both, of the athletes were chemically enhanced. I always assume that for every fighter who is caught, there are more who got away with it. State athletic commissions don't have the budgets to do the kind of testing that would prevent abuse. Nevada is one of the leaders in this area and it will occasionally administer an out-of-competition test, which does have a deterrent effect. The state, though, is in the midst of a fiscal crisis and doesn't have the money to spend to expand the program to become more vigilant. The bottom line, regardless of what happens with a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, is that PED usage in the sport needs to be controlled.

No point for a refusal

I loved your piece that revealed the drug testing dates for Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley. I feel it shows that Manny holds no water to his demands. If Manny had to cut weight to fight Floyd, he would have a point. But there are runners, bike riders and all type of other athletes who have went on record to say that they gave blood and still performed at a top level that day or the day after. Something in me says Manny may be doing something that is not right.

Kevin
Washington

I have no evidence that Pacquiao is using, or ever has used, PEDs. Michael Phelps is the best example of an athlete who was blood-tested and still succeeded. At the 2008 Olympics, he was randomly chosen for a blood draw. He gave the blood, went out and won a qualifying heat later that day and the next day he won a gold medal. This whole argument between Pacquiao and Mayweather has become a red herring, in my mind. It's about control, not about drug-testing and keeping drugs out of boxing. Pacquiao doesn't want to be dictated to and Mayweather wants to dictate.

Testing time frames

Is it possible to be clean 14 days before the fight and the day of the fight and still cheat? What do most scientists think? I'm not really interested in what spokesmen from the Pacquiao or Mayweather camps say, or what the fans have to say. What is the consensus of doctors and scientists? It is always possible to find one crackpot doctor that doesn't agree with the scientific evidence, but what do the majority of doctors think?

Joe Parisi
Bridgeton, N.J.

It is possible, Joe. Shane Mosley actually passed his tests against Oscar De La Hoya before and after his 2003 fight in Las Vegas. He later admitted in testimony to a grand jury that he'd used anabolic steroids and Erythropoietin, which is commonly known as EPO. EPO clears the system in three to five days, so it would be very possible for the scenario you describe. In this column on Yahoo! Sports on Jan. 8, Dr. Don H. Catlin, one of the leading anti-doping experts in the world said "If you have a 24-day window that's free, with no testing, you can take whatever you want and you're not going to get caught, end of story." I have spoken to numerous authorities on the matter, including from the World Anti-Doping Agency and USADA, and they've consistently said the same thing.

Testing agreement

Was there an actual agreement in the Mayweather-Mosley fight on a final blood test on the said date of April 12/13 or an agreement on how many days before the fight that the last blood would be taken?

Loui Ludwig

There was not. Tygart said the decision when to test rested solely with the USADA. It's important to note that Mayweather and Mosley agreed that USADA could keep their samples and that their samples would be tested again in the future. If it turns up that there is a drug that is undetectable today is discovered and they test positive for that in the samples that are retained, they've agreed to forfeit the fight, to accept a two-year suspension from boxing and to pay back all of the money they earned from the bout.

Test them all

Since you liberally quoted Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, then answer this question: If Schaefer (as well as Mayweather and Leonard Ellerbe) is really for a "clean sport", why did he not require the same USADA random blood testing for ALL the fighters on the card? You, as a boxing analyst, should have asked that and not just reported verbatim what he said. You are an analyst for God's sake! Who are you kidding? I'm not sure you'll be brave enough to publish this question because you will be exposed!

Obet Mata
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The answer is easy, Obet. Forget that it would be ridiculously expensive to test every fighter on every card. The answer is that the promoters have no jurisdiction over the fighters to require that. In the case of Mayweather and Mosley, they agreed in a private contract to do the blood testing. But beyond a private agreement, the fighters are only obligated to comply with the rules of the regulatory agency overseeing the bout in the jurisdiction where it is held.

Heartbreaking to watch

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Israel Vazquez is respected for giving his all to his sport.
(Mark J. Terrill/AP)

I just wanted to say you did another fantastic job with this article on the Rafael Marquez-Israel Vazquez fight. It is heartbreaking when we see fighters reach the end of their careers, especially someone like Vazquez. At a time when I believe boxing needs these warriors to save it, it became more and more apparent that time really does catch us all. I will be happy with the series ending 2- 2. This is and will be my favorite series of fights. Two warriors doing what they do best. Thanks for the article.

Jeremiah
Hanover, Md.

Israel and Rafael did much for boxing with their series, which exhibited all that is good about this sport. Vazquez is a good guy who gave his life to the sport. I hope and pray he walks away now and doesn't risk serious injury by coming back. His body is clearly telling him it's time.

Classy fighters

You are so right. I watched the fight with anxiety and caution. These are two great fighters who had put on three of the greatest fights that I have seen. I was actually pulling for them both, but with the TKO, I was relieved to see a halt to the bout. No more, for sure. They have nothing to prove. They are two classy guys and great fighters and I hope they enjoy they have reaped from the boxing world.

Rick Kish
Winter Haven, Fla.

If all fighters were as classy and as Vazquez and Marquez and fought as hard as they do all the time, boxing might be the world's No. 1 sport right now.

Eye injury obvious

Israel Vazquez's eye was red and puffy before the fight began. It was clear that it would not take much to open a cut. Most sports issue injury reports. Was this knowledge available to the fans who paid big money or bet big money on this fight? I had a hard time watching this travesty.

Howard Kaplan
Galena, Ill.

It was widely reported before the fight, Howard. Boxing doesn't offer injury reports, as in football, but the media reports all known injuries. Of course, some fighters work hard to hide their injuries, but the status of the scar tissue around Israel's eyes was no secret to anyone.

Rankings controversy ridiculous

I was reading the mail you've received about the outcry about Mayweather being ranked over Pacman. I feel like people just ride bandwagons and don't know what in the world they're talking about. I read one that stated Mayweather beat an over-the-hill Mosley. Mosley held a belt and at the time was ranked on many lists as the best welterweight in the world. Now all the sudden age is being brought up. No one was talking about Oscar De La Hoya's age when Pacman defeated him. Besides the last time I've checked, Bernard Hopkins is in his mid 40s and on many pound-for-pound lists. Mayweather has defeated three future Hall of Famers in his last four fights. (De La Hoya, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Mosley). I just wish people would give credit where credit is due.

Glendrick Pettigrew

You can make a solid argument for either Floyd or Manny being No. 1. Emotions are a big factor here and Manny has some of the most fervent fans in the world. I don't like it when they scream racism, make homophobic taunts about Mayweather or make the ridiculous point, "You don't like Manny," but I accept that they're simply showing their passion for their favorite fighter. The bottom line, such things are opinion and, hopefully, the question of who's better will be proven in the ring.

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