Breakdown on PEDS

By: Danny Richardson

Follow me @Danny_Boy_93

After recent revelations, it is important that the issue of drugs in boxing, and how it is threatening the credibility of our sport, is given exposure. Over the past few months, we have been greeted with stories that fighters ranging from a domestic to world level have tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs, and unfortunately, this problem doesn’t seem to be going away.
It’s nothing new; there have been examples of this before, most famously from Roy Jones Jr, who tested positive for a banned substance back in 2000. Not enough was made of the situation in my opinion, and this has since been swept under the carpet. This was a high profile case, because at the time, Jones Jr was one of, if not the best fighter on the planet. More action should have been taken.
Incidents like these were few and far between though. A personal memory is of Vince Phillips failing a drugs test after being defeated by Ricky Hatton back in 2003. But, as I say, these incidents have been rare, and we haven’t faced a pandemic of fighters failing drug tests.
However – that pandemic looks likely at this moment in time. We learned earlier this year, that Lamont Peterson failed a drugs test in the run up to his highly anticipated rematch with Amir Khan. Peterson was found to have traces of testosterone in his system, which is of course a banned substance. We hoped this would be an isolated incident, but more was yet to come.
Shortly after, Andre Berto failed a drugs test a few months before he was due to face Victor Ortiz in a rematch of their 2011 thriller. Peterson, then Berto. But more followed. Antonio Tarver, a great champion in his day, followed suit, and more recently, we have seen that British heavyweight Larry Olubamiwo failed a drugs test, the Englishman admitting that he had taken PED’s for years. 3 world level fighters, followed by a domestic level fighter – showing that boxing at all levels is affected.
We have seen further rumours. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr missed his drugs test after defeating Andy Lee last month, after putting on a staggering 20lbs in little over 24 hours, between the weigh in and the fight itself. I’m no expert, but that is a staggering amount of weight to put on in such a short space of time. Surely that can’t be down to just rehydration.
Even today, there are unconfirmed reports that Enzo Maccarinelli, the popular Welshman, has also failed a drugs test. As I said earlier, from the examples I’ve listed, we see fighters at all levels taking PED’S in whatever form. These aren’t isolated incidents anymore, and I can guarantee there will be more stories like these in the coming months.
It’s an issue that needs to be stopped, because if it gets any worse, boxing will struggle to recover. After Larry Olubamiwo admitted to his drug taking, he told reporters that more fighters were doing it, and they have been getting away with it for years. This needs to stop, because these cases, especially the high profile ones, will ruin the sport.
As soon as a fighter is found guilty of taking PED’s, the book needs to be thrown at them. We need a serious deterrent. I would propose a life ban against fighters found to have taken PED’s, with their records wiped from history and every fighter to have suffered a defeat against the boxer in question, would be awarded the win, or their loss taken away. Adding a large fine to that would surely act as enough. We need a crack down on drug taking in boxing, and we need it now.
PED’s don’t always help a fighter either. Olubamiwo has embarrassed himself in more ways than one by admitting his use of PED’s, because he was bombed out in a round by John McDermott in 2011. If you can’t beat John McDermott (no disrespect to him) with the help of PED’s, then you can’t be much of a fighter. Also, Vince Phillips lost to Ricky Hatton prior to him failing a drugs test, and those that have been found guilty of taking PED’s now find their career and reputation in tatters. It’s not worth it, because if you’re found out, the whole boxing world views you with shame, and you find yourself looking for an office job as your career is over.
At least that should be the case, because going back to Roy Jones Jr, the situation was more or less forgotten about, and he didn’t face any consequences. Also, there are arguments that fighters don’t know what they can and can’t take, and some claim to have been misinformed when failing drugs tests for a substance they thought was legal. To those fighters, a thorough investigation should be held, followed by a ban for a shorter period of time, as well as a fine. They’ll be sure to check before taking anything else in the future.
To catch the cheats, and to act as a deterrent, the Olympic Style drug testing format is the perfect solution. More regular, random blood testing is what is catching the drug cheats, and this format needs to become mandatory. Floyd Mayweather has been a great advocate for this form of testing, which included a blood test as well as urine tests, as there are certain types of PED that only show up in blood tests. Fighters will be tested randomly and more often, catching drugs cheats in the process. If this form of testing is introduced at all levels, the cheats will be caught and boxing will become a cleaner sport.
It is easier said than done, but with fighters such as Floyd Mayweather, Nonito Donaire and Amir Khan supporting the campaign to clean up boxing, then this problem could come to an end. We as fans deserve to be watching natural athletes compete at the highest level, giving us entertainment in the process. PED users may give us the entertainment value, but once their use of drugs comes to light, we all feel cheated. Also, knowing they have worked your way to the top by using PED’s can’t give fighters the same sense of satisfaction they would receive if they had worked honestly throughout their careers, they can’t truly know if they’re better than everyone else.
If this problem is not rectified soon, then boxing will be damaged beyond repair. In the past few months, we have seen more cases than I can remember, and if the use of PED’s is not stopped, these cases will happen more often. This can’t be allowed to happen, because if it does, boxing will no longer be a sport that is loved and respected, and I’m sure the drug users themselves won’t want to see that happen. Fighters need to start proving they are clean, to start rebuilding the damaged reputation boxing is in danger of getting. As Floyd Mayweather would say, if you’re the best, take the test.

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