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Broner vs. DeMarco and the contracted USADA testing that didn’t happen

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The State of New Jersey Athletic Control Board appears to be one of the most advanced commissions in regards to drug testing athletes competing within its jurisdiction. Unlike other commissions, the NJSACB tests blood, urine and hair samples for recreational and performance enhancing drugs.

 

"The State Athletic Control Board is continually attempting to educate itself and update its anti-doping methods in order to attain a safe, fair and honest arena of competition for each contestant," said NJSACB Commissioner Aaron Davis

 

Also unlike other commissions, they have a closed door policy regarding exactly what tests they run, who they are testing specifically or the positive or negative results. The commission tests each card and does so in a responsible manner given budgetary constraints typical of most commissions charged with regulating the use of performance enhancing drugs on the state-financed level.


"At a minimum, all professional combat sport contestants provide a urine sample for drug testing on the evening of the contest; however, this agency has performed blood, hair and urine testing on competitors prior to competition, on the night of competition, and subsequent to contests but during the licensing period,” NJSACB counsel Nick Lembo told Maxboxing.com. “Timing of testing, notification of testing, and method of testing varies as to involve an element of surprise. Thus, additional random testing is actively utilized and varies in nature. Positive drug tests are not publicly released due to State statutes and regulations involving privacy of medical information. In all cases, positive results and accompanying suspensions are timely reported to the ABC’s 9Association of Boxing Commissions) designated central registry."       

 

The United States Doping Agency (USADA) is an independent non-governmental agency charged with policing the Olympics and Paralympics. Their vision/mission statement reads:

 

“To be the guardian of the values and life lessons learned through true sport. We hold the public trust to:

 

·        Preserve the Integrity of Competition — We preserve the value and integrity of athletic competition through just initiatives that prevent, deter and detect violations of true sport.

·        Inspire True Sport — We inspire present and future generations of U.S. athletes through initiatives that impart the core principles of true sport — fair play, respect for one’s competitor and respect for the fundamental fairness of competition.

·        Protect the Rights of U.S. Athletes — We protect the right of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes to compete healthy and clean — to achieve their own personal victories as a result of unwavering commitment and hard work — to be celebrated as true heroes.

 

 

In recent years USADA has been contracted to test certain high profile fights promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. The testing window generally starts the day of the final press conference and extends to the night of the fight. Some of those fights include Floyd Mayweather, Danny Garcia, Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley, and Victor Ortiz among others. The upcoming bout between Amir Khan and Carlos Molina is being tested under a USADA/Golden Boy agreement.

 

USADA esting was contracted and proposed for the June 2, 2012 bout between Ronald “Winky” Wright and Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin held at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.  The testing commenced approximately May 21, 2012. Quillin gave blood and urine samples on Wednesday May 23, 2012. Wright gave blood and urine samples to USADA the next day.  The following day, Friday May 25, 2010, testing was cancelled by USADA, citing the following reason:

 

“After discussing this internally, USADA has decided not to move forward with the pre and post testing of this fight due in large part to concerns we have regarding the timing and extent of education we can provide both fighters given the June 2nd date.”

 

A review of two separate Golden Boy/USADA agreements, obtained by Maxboxing.com, explains that “32) This Master Agreement may be terminated at any time without cause on ten (10) days written notice by either Party.  The termination of this Master Agreement shall be without prejudice to the rights and obligations of either Party as of the date of termination. “

 

According to the contracts, “either party” appears to refer to Golden Boy and USADA.

 

Saturday May 26, 2012, following a request by Wright’s lawyer that all samples collected, USADA informed Team Wright the samples had been destroyed. Wright’s team briefly protested but ultimately let the matter lie once Wright lost by decision and summarily retired post-fight.

 

On that same card, Antonio Tarver tested positive for metabolites of Drostanolone. Tarver was tested by the California State Athletic Commission, as were Wright and Quillin, and is now serving a one year suspension. Wright and Quillin tested negative for any and all banned substances per the WADA banned substance list.

 

That fight is mentioned because recently a similar case occurred across the country in New Jersey.

 

On November 17, 2012 Cincinatti’s Adrien “The Problem” Broner and Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco squared off for the WBC lightweight belt then held by DeMarco. The fight would be held in Atlantic City, NJ and tested under NJSACB guidelines. Additionally, Broner’s promoter, Golden Boy, insisted to DeMarco’s promoter, Gary Shaw, that the fight be tested by USADA.

‘[USADA testing] was proposed by David Iskowitz [of Golden Boy promotions]. And they insisted on the use of USADA. I sent an email saying ‘Why don’t we use VADA?’” Shaw told Maxboxing.com, referring to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. VADA has emerged on the independent drug testing scene in combat sports within the last year. They caught two high profile athletes, Andre Berto (nandrolone metabolites) and Lamont Peterson, (synthetic testosterone), which prompted the cancellation of their respective fights.

 

“[Golden Boy] sent an email saying we will use USADA,” said Shaw. “It went back and forth and they sent contracts. I wouldn’t sign the contract because the initial provision was to have no notification to me [in the event of a positive drug test by either athlete].”

 

Shaw agreed to USADA testing and the clause in question was modified to allow for all parties, Golden Boy, Shaw, and both fight camps to be notified in the event of a positive test. Shaw and DeMarco, according to Shaw’s lawyer Leon Margules, were protected from legal and financial recourse should Demarco test positive and the fight be cancelled. Golden Boy also agreed to pay for the testing. Essentially, Golden Boy assumed responsibility and liability since it was their idea, according to Margules. The fight agreement and the USADA agreement, as Shaw and Margules explained, were two separate contracts.

 

As Margules and Shaw explained, the fight contract and USADA agreements were still being negotiated deep into training camp. The fight had a network, a date and location but contractual details were being worked out until the last minute. On October 20, Margules received a USADA agreement and was given until Friday October 26 to get it back signed to Golden Boy so the testing process could begin. The fight was three weeks and a day away when Margules sent the contract back signed. Broner’s team, promoted by Golden Boy but advised by Al Haymon, had already sent their paperwork in.

 

“We was asked to do random drug testing and we were fine with it. Adrien doesn’t even take a pill,” said trainer Mike Stafford who has worked with Broner his entire career, amateur and pro. Stafford is a decorated and respected amateur coach now emerging with a plethora of Cincinatti prospects on the pro scene.  “And I wasn’t worried about DeMarco. I know he is professional enough to not mess himself up like that.”

 

The fight was a one-sided affair with Broner proving too fast, strong, and skilled for the experienced but ultimately overmatched DeMarco. Broner put Demarco down hard in the eighth and his corner saved the former champion from further punishment. Broner is now the WBC lightweight champion’ a distinction Stafford believes he will hold for a long time to come.

 

By all accounts, NJSACB testing went as planned. Three samples before and after the fight were taken and all tested negative for recreational drugs or performance enhancing substances.  

 

“In response to your inquiries with regard to drug testing for the Broner-DeMarco boxing contest, please be advised that on November 14, urine samples for anti-doping purposes were collected by the NJSACB from both Mr. Broner and Mr. DeMarco (along with 2 other contestants). These samples were sent to the US lab in Salt Lake City under numbers assigned to the named 4 fighters tested. Thus, the lab would not be able to identify the specimen with a name, but instead a number. This number would only be known by the NJSACB,” NJSACB Commissioner Davis informed Maxboxing.com in a prepared statement.

 

“These results would only be provided directly to the NJSACB,” it continued. “These tests were taken in order to get a result prior to the fight itself, and Mr. Broner and Mr. DeMarco’s samples came back negative prior to the contest start. On fight night of November 17, this agency conducted urine drug testing for "drugs of abuse" on all the contestants. These tests were then sent to the NJSACB’s contracted drug testing facility (which is not in Salt Lake City). These results for both Mr. Broner and Mr. DeMarco recently came back and were negative. Also on November 17, more urine was collected by the NJSACB and again sent to US lab in Salt Lake City for anti-doping purposes. These tests results, identifiable to the lab by numbers, have not yet been declared to this agency with regard to Mr. Broner and Mr. DeMarco."

 

On Thanksgiving, I received an email from counsel Lembo stating that the final samples came back negative.

 

When it came time to get the results from USADA, Team DeMarco were in for a surprise.

 

A few days after the fight, Leon Margules was drafting a letter to USADA, requesting the test results. He called Antonio DeMarco to inquire about how many test samples he gave and the dates. DeMarco replied “None.”

 

“After we went back and forth and it got really nasty then we finally signed everything, [USADA] never went and took blood or urine from DeMarco,” Shaw told Maxboxing.com “They never took samples.”

 

Mike Stafford concurred.

 

“We agreed to [USADA testing],” he said. “We filled out the papers and everything but [USADA] never did come through [to collect samples].”

 

When contacted initially, USADA’s Annie Skinner released this statement to Maxboxing.com:

 

“USADA was contacted regarding a potential testing program for the fight between Mr. DeMarco and Mr. Broner. The program was never finalized however, as it was determined that USADA would not have had adequate time to conduct a thorough testing program in line with our standards, including the proper athlete education, numerous sample collections, and lab analysis all to be completed prior to the fight. We notified them that we would not be able to accommodate their request due to the short time frame.”

 

Two subsequent emails containing follow-up questions were sent on Monday. One inquired who the “them” in “We notified them” is. Ms. Skinner has yet to reply.  

 

Questions regarding the testing were passed on to Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer late Monday, according to his assistant. Mr. Schaefer has yet to reply.  

 

When asked if they had been notified USADA testing was cancelled, Shaw, DeMarco, Margules and Stafford all said no.

 

“They must have told Al [Haymon]. It’s not up to me, you know what I’m saying? It’s all Al’s call,” said Stafford.

 

Shaw and Margules were less at ease with not being informed.

 

In both the Wright/ Quillin and Broner/DeMarco cases, testing was contracted and summarily cancelled due to a lack of time to properly educate the athletes.

 

What does that mean?

 

As per USADA’s protocols, the education phone calls can be handled with both athletes at the same time or separately. The sessions are no longer than an hour. During these sessions, the fighters and their representatives must provide:

 

 

·        Information on any medications or supplements that the fighters are taking.

 

·        Whereabouts information on their schedules (sleep, training and other regular activities) from the time of the education session until the fight.

 

·        Indication on who the primary point of contact will be for both fighters/camps (individuals responsible for maintaining the fighter schedules, and who we can contact if we have inquiries).

 

During the session, USADA also ascertains whether a bilingual sample collector will be needed to handle the process.   

 

Essentially the call is a fact-finding and logistics session that by USADA’s own protocols should not take longer than an hour.

 

If Margules explained that Golden Boy insisted he get the contract back by Friday the 26 or the process would not have a enough time to be effective. By his and Shaw’s account, the deadline was met.

 

DeMarco maintains despite filling out the contract and the giving all his information, he was never contacted. However, Stafford claims Broner was.

 

“They probably mentioned [the cancellation] to Al but they never did come up,” said Stafford. “We was ready. Adrien talked to the lady and everything. I guess it was a timing thing, you know what I am saying? I don’t know. You know, with something like that you have to do it full-out, you know what I am saying? Because that’s how they do my guys for the Olympics and USA Boxing. It’s a timing thing. With the fight being when it was, it was the timing. USADA is so busy they probably couldn’t get us in their schedule.”

 

When I asked Stafford who “the lady” was, He did not know her name but said that he spoke to her as well.

 

“[USADA] did the interview with [Broner] and I am pretty sure they did the same with DeMarco,’ said Stafford. “It was just a timing thing. When we talked to the lady, I said ‘This won’t be enough time.’ I mean something like that you have to do like a month ahead of time or six weeks at least.”

 

Stafford opined that since the fight itself was put together last minute, with contract details being haggled over until late in training camp, perhaps adding this protocol just was too much for USADA to put together as they claim in their statement.

 

“Well, we didn’t even have a press conference,” said Stafford. “Everything was so like  . . . with [Hurricane Sandy] and everything, it was a timing thing. There was lot of stuff to decide between us. The contract and so on. It was just a timing thing.”

 

Could Hurricane Sandy, which hit the east coast the week leading up to the fight itself, have impacted a fighter’s training in Cincinatti and Mexico’s ability to give samples to be tested in Utah?

 

What does “properly educate” actually mean? Is not the point of randomly drug testing athletes, even within a specific window, to surprise an athlete who may be taking something on the banned list?

 

Was something discovered in that education session that led USADA, with three weeks to go until the fight, to back out of the testing because it might catch someone and potentially put Golden Boy back in a situation such as it had when Erik Morales recently tested positive for Clenbuterol in New York prior to his rematch with Danny Garcia. Morales had two samples sets test positive before a third set collected came up negative. The fight was allowed to continue but the story was leaked and Golden Boy and USADA looked bad publicly, to say the least. The New York commission didn’t exactly come up roses, either, in that debacle.

 

Was Broner-DeMarco potentially a situation like that? Or was three weeks of testing simply not enough to effectively determine if both men had banned substance-free systems?

 

Was allegedly interviewing one fighter, presumably taking the information requested, list of supplements, medications, etc. but not the other in keeping with USADA’s mission to “Protect the Rights of U.S. Athletes”?

 

Did that alleged practice “Preserve the Integrity of Competition?” Or did it prevent a potentially awkward and financially costly situation?

 

Why was one fighter allegedly given his education session but not the other?

 

Why haven’t USADA and Golden Boy answer questions after initially entering into communication?

 

Who was notified of the cancellation? Al Haymon? Richard Schaefer?

 

Why weren’t Gary Shaw, Antonio DeMarco, Mike Stafford and Adrien Broner notified testing was cancelled?

 

Why does Golden Boy ignore the requests of fighters like Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto or promoter Gary Shaw who all insisted on VADA testing but instead got pushed towards Golden Boy’s agency of choice, USADA?

 

If 3 weeks is not enough time, what does USADA consider the most desirable amount of time to test a boxing match? Amateurs test year round. The pro fights USADA has tested did so during an 8-12 week period.

 

Considering commissions that test for recreational and performance enhancing drugs typically do it within a day before to day of the fight time frame, wouldn’t three weeks be better than nothing considering the effectiveness of your testing program?

 

Or to simplify the question, why isn’t three weeks of testing sufficient?

 

Who is the woman Adrien Broner and Mike Stafford spoke to? Was that his “education phone call” or something else?

 

Why has Richard Schaefer yet to reply to questions when his company initially made a show of ushering in the new age of drug testing in boxing?

 

Was there something questionable on the forms submitted by either fighter? And if so, why would USADA balk at testing that subject if that was true?

The longer the Golden Boy/USADA relationship goes on, the more questions emerge. The more questions emerge, the fewer answers Golden Boy and USADA appear willing to give.



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