Mailbag: Dopers no dopes

Kevin Iole

You can follow Kevin Iole on Twitter at @KevinI

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.

Pac-man should be suspicious

One should understand Pacquiao's position with regard to the blood testing issue. Pac-man feels that his integrity is being questioned and tarnished by all this. Those in Mayweather's camp insist that they just want a level playing field and that if Pacman has nothing to hide then he should go through with the random testing. It's not that easy. When you talk about a level playing field, understand that the fight is being fought in the U.S. against an American in that American's hometown, no less, for the recognition of being the greatest of their generation. Then you want a new drug testing policy conducted by Americans as dictated by said American opponent's camp. Americans may think that this is ridiculous but that's because they never see it in the eyes of a foreigner. Flip it. Tell Mayweather that the fight is going to be in General Santos, Philippines, with the drug tests to be conducted by the Philippine Olympic Committee. Let's see how Leonard Ellerbe and Mayweather take that and then we'll discuss if Pac is unreasonable and the field is uneven.

Maynard Maleon
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.

Manny should walk

It seems to me that Pacquiao has sewn so much terror in his would-be opponents that everybody is accusing him of very silly things. It's true the Mayweathers are wise guys. They're wise enough to find a way out of the fight! Floyd's call to the Pac-man is, after all, just a bluff. Do we let these cowards destroy someone's hard work with this kind of dirty tricks? I just hope that Manny walk away from the fight and finds someone brave and worthy to be his next opponent.

Manny Vivas

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.

Can one cheat the test?

Manny has no history of cheating, as far as all the previous tests have shown, and provided the authentic results of the tests. Is there a way that a player can cheat urine test or blood test?

Ed Omawas
New Jersey

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.

Where does Mayweather get off?

Why doesn't the Nevada Athletic Commission go beyond ordering immediate testing of Mayweather and Pacquiao? If I were commission chairwoman Pat Lundvall, I'd be more than a bit irked with Mayweather's camp about the drug-testing issues. In what reality does a regulatory issue (drug-testing) become something that a manager or a promoter can influence? I can completely understand Team Mayweather's position. How does Manny go from being a boxer who twice gets KO'd early by 117-pounders to being a guy who can take Miguel Cotto's best body with barely a flinch? Until Antonio Margarito got caught with illegal hand wraps, he was having a run very similar to the Pacman. They both did the same type of damage to Miguel Cotto, who until the Margarito fight was about the best boxer in the sport. However, it is the job of the commission, not Team Mayweather, to ensure a fair fight, and protect both boxers.

James Bates
Bangkok, Thailand

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.

Fail test, forfeit purse

To break the impasse between Pacman and Floyd, I suggest they both undergo the blood test within 24 hours after the fight, and anyone found to be positive will lose his purse (and, more so, his honor). The funds can go to a foundation of the choice of the state of Nevada. Can you suggest this to both fighters?

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.

We should boycott

If the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight goes down the drain, where do I go to start or support a boycott of Pacquiao's and Mayweather's next fights? I'm hearing Pacquiao is fighting Paulie Malignaggi and Mayweather is fighting Mathew Hatton. What a joke that would be! I have been a boxing fan all my life and I just think that boxers now a days have turned it to crap. Both of these fighters know that they owe this fight not only to the hardcore fans but to the casual fans. But with all the money and glamour, they seem to forget that without the fans they are nothing! How about you starting the movement of boycotting these clowns' next fights, if they don't fight each other? Either way, there is no way I am watching those terrible fights!

Juan Carlos
McAllen, Texas

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.

Manny is weakened

I don't know what the fuss is about this drug testing. Manny believes that blood tests weaken him before a fight, which most of us cannot dispute because there are some individuals who get dizzy when blood is drawn prior to competition. Another point is, Manny agreed to get his blood drawn immediately after the fight, which suggests that should he be on steroids, it would be detected after the fight and he would be punished for it. This suggests that Mayweather is simply ducking the fight.
Paolo Lunas

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.