Drug testing in boxing & the media

There’s a new media age in the world of boxing.  The landscape of the sport is so much different from any of the other sports and when it comes to the media, it’s so much smaller.  Most of the media in boxing can be described as fans with credentials.  Much of the media are fans who have created their own websites and instead of going to college to receive a degree in journalism have taken it upon themselves to join the boxing world on their own.  This is a positive as many opinions that normally would not be heard now have their own platform.  If any sport lives and thrives on the internet, it’s the sport of boxing.

The con for having such a large self employed media is that the hard questions are not asked.  Many media members are fans who may just be happy to be at an event covering a fight.  Currently I am one of them, as I wouldn’t be here writing this if it weren’t for Justin M. Salvato starting BOXING 4 FREE.

Many of the reporters covering boxing may not mind if they are handed a script of quotes from the fighters to put in their articles.  This was reported to have been done by the Premier Boxing Champions last year.  It’s understandable that when you ask fighters tough questions they may be turned off and may not want to do another interview with you.  The idea that a member of the media can have their credential taken away for asking tough questions is more reality than fiction.  The interviews could come more & more infrequent and your access may be more limited than ever. *Editor’s note: this is the case with our podcaster Andrew Schweitzer who tried to question certain high profile boxers, but was blocked on Twitter for asking the tough questions.* Boxing may look like a huge sport on the outside, but on the inside it operates on a much smaller scale.

Media being afraid to ask questions of fighters and promoters in an already wild west sport like boxing is not a good occurrence for the sport.  This is most prevalent when it comes to drug testing.  Most of the boxing media has ignored this issue by either refusing or being to scared to ask fighters about drug testing. How many fighters currently are being tested in a true Olympic style of 365 days of year?  How many fights are there actually drug tested? In the last Pay-Per-View of the year in Cotto vs. Canelo, does anyone know the drug testing protocols of the bout?

Here are three stories that were underreported by boxing media in 2015.  

Vanes Martirosyan throws shade at Angel Heredia 

By now everyone knows who Angel Heredia is and at least some of his past with performance enhancing drugs. His work in boxing has not gone without suspicion especially his work with Juan Manuel Marquez.  So when a fighter who used to work with him blasts him on Twitter by stating that he was offered to be injected with some substance for $9,000, you would think the media would go and ask Heredia some questions. Just as quickly as the tweet disappeared from twitter, the media disappeared from this subject as well.  There were no follow up stories or even interviews with Heredia asking him about what Vanes said.  Before this there was Jesse Vargas who would not comment about Angel Heredia. Heredia isn’t a fighter or promoter and it seems that the media’s lack of questions about him show the lack of interest or concern about drug testing in the sport.

Floyd Mayweather and the IV gate.

Yes, we know that Thomas Hauser produced an article exposing the relationship of Floyd Mayweather and USADA as more of a results management relationship versus a drug testing relationship.  Mayweather was shown to have taken a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) before his fight with Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd and didn’t report it to the commission until almost three weeks after the fight.  For many fans of Mayweather the plan was to attack the author of the article rather than to attack what was written.  USADA wrote back a reply to Hauser who replied back with is own response.  Most boxing fans are unaware of many of the points in the article dealing with some of the specifics of drug testing.  This is not a surprise as besides Hauser there was only one known boxing writer to actually cover drug testing extensively in the sport.  Before and after the Berto bout there weren’t any interviews conducted by the media with Floyd Mayweather asking about this situation.  It was all swept away and forgotten when Nevada State Athletic  Commissioner Francisco Aguilar stated that Floyd did nothing wrong.  Many fans of Mayweather who sympathize with him would state this as proving his innocence of any wrongdoing. This would seem hypocritical as in 2009, The New York Post printed an article with former Nevada State Athletic Commission director Keith Kizer who stated that “everything was on the up and up” in the first bout with Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito.  Not only that, he stated that both members of each camp were present for each others’ hand wrapping.  “Not only them, but people from HBO, people from the MGM”.  Mayweather has not had to respond to any of these allegations and that is because the boxing media has given him a complete pass.

Antonio Tarver fails another drug test.  

In 2012 after a bout with Lateef Kayode, Antonio Tarver failed a drug test that cost him a commentating job with Showtime. Three years later Tarver once again failed a drug test for performance-enhancing drugs this time dealing with synthetic testosterone. Tarver seems to have gone without any kind of punishment.  Has anybody interviewed or heard anything at all about Antonio Tarver since this news broke?  This seems to have disappeared from the media completely.  What was important in this is not so much that Tarver failed, but who caught Tarver.  The PBC has a relationship with USADA who does all their drug testing. This time, however, USADA was not involved and without much coverage from the media it’s hard to tell if USADA and the PBC have completely ended their relationship.  The group that caught Tarver was a drug-testing agency out of Sweden called IDTM.  This wasn’t covered by any reporter currently in the sport, but by a retired reporter.  On an episode of boxing podcast, The Next Round, Gabriel Montoya broke the story that IDTM was used for drug testing for this bout rather than USADA. (On Episodes 559 and 569).  Montoya has long been a reporter who has brought attention to drug testing in boxing, but the fact that not one current reporter has even attempted to bring this story to light seems misguided.

Boxing is entertainment and most fans just want to enjoy the fights.  Members of the media don’t want to be blacklisted by promoters, but even big media such as ESPN and Yahoo aren’t asking the tough questions.  There’s no excuse when you have a large platform behind you to not ask questions that may make the fighter or promoter uncomfortable.  It needs to be done especially in a business as divisive as boxing.  As fans and media we have to hold fighters and those in the boxing business accountable if we truly want a safe and clean sport.

Sources:
http://www.boxingscene.com/forums/showthread.php?p=15927354
http://www.ispn24.com/watch.php?vid=30749be4a
http://www.badlefthook.com/2015/10/19/9567639/report-antonio-tarver-failed-drug-test-for-cunningham-fight
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/leaveitintheringradio/2015/12/08/the-next-round-boxing-show-ep-559
http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2015/9/9/9271811/can-boxing-trust-usada
http://nypost.com/2009/01/29/kizer-margarito-was-clean-vs-cotto/

About the Author

Hector Franco
Graduated from USF. Photographer, boxing writer, comedian. 100% Puerto Rican.

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