COMMENTARY | Late last week it was revealed that Manny Pacquiao had requested random blood and urine testing for his upcoming bout on November 23 with Brandon Rios in Macau. On Friday, it was confirmed that the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) would be the organization entrusted with the task of testing both fighters.
To those who have followed Pacquiao's career for the last several years, the decision to actually request PEDs testing has to be more than a bit jarring, especially after his own tumultuous relationship with the concept.
For those who recall, a proposed mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather was all but signed, sealed, and delivered when a dispute over random blood testing forever killed the deal.
At the time, the Filipino icon balked at undergoing any PEDs testing above and beyond the minimum commission requirements, claiming that the drawing of blood would weaken him prior to the fight. The reluctance to budge on random testing eventually took both fighters to arbitration where the bout was officially killed off in January of 2010 when neither side would give in regarding a cut-off date for drawing blood prior to fight night.
Following the well-publicized collapse of this era's biggest money fight, Mayweather was painted as the unreasonable party, insisting on random blood testing for no other reason than the fact that unsubstantiated rumors of PEDs use and overwhelming Pacquiao performances caused him to be suspicious.
Fast forward to 2013 and the script has been flipped completely.
Fighters who demand and undergo random blood testing are not vilified, but given their just due. Members of the media who lambasted Mayweather for his demands just a couple of years ago are now commending other fighters who make similar demands. For those looking to explain the complete 180 on the issue, evolution of thought could be credited for the change. However, for those with a slightly cynical orientation, the word "hypocrisy" could also be applied.
And speaking of evolution of thought vs. hypocrisy; we come back to Pacquiao's recent demand for random PEDs testing.
Back when Juan Manuel Marquez debuted his new, muscular look prior to his fourth clash with Pacquiao, rumor and innuendo began to emerge. Fingers were pointed at Marquez's controversial strength and conditioning coach, Angel "Memo" Heredia, a confessed PEDs distributor who turned state's evidence to avoid prosecution in the infamous BALCO case. And when Marquez knocked Pacquiao unconscious in the sixth round of their bout, those pointed fingers transformed into flat-out accusations of chemical enhancement on the part of the veteran Mexican battler.
Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios, prior to his last fight, also began working with "Memo" Heredia and will presumably be doing so for the Pacquiao bout as well.
So, now, it's Pacquiao's turn to assume the Mayweather role and call for true random testing, based solely on rumor, speculation, and a feeling that one overwhelming performance from Marquez via Heredia's work is worth proper precaution.
And who can blame Manny?
After all, a fighter needs to protect his safety at all times. Entering the ring against someone who he feels may be using an illegal substance is both unwise and illogical. So, kudos to Pacquiao for finally coming around to Mayweather's point of view. It may be three years and one dead mega-fight too late, but a change in the right direction is always a good thing.
Still, random fits of testing here and there do very little for the overall issue of PEDs use in boxing. In an international sport with no centralized authority, the current form of PEDs busting is mere busy work with no real, authoritative bite.
Hopefully, this current case by case posturing can become a catalyst for real and consistent commission testing.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
Sources: Fighthype, Huffington Post, Yahoo! Sports
- Sports & Recreation
- Manny Pacquiao
- Floyd Mayweather