When I began writing about anti-doping four years ago this March, it was simply in the course of covering current events. Floyd Mayweather Jr. asked Manny Pacquiao to join him in a random (but limited in terms of time frame) anti-doping program to be conducted by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The story went viral when Pacquiao initially balked for a myriad of reasons given by his team. The fight fell apart but Mayweather soon signed to fight Shane Mosley. From then on, Mayweather declared that all his opponents would be required to join him in the USADA testing program. The window for Mayweather/USADA testing typically begins the day after the initial press tour ends and concludes the night of the fight.
Through the course of reporting on this subject consistently and relentlessly ever since, perceptions about me in boxing world have changed. When I was breaking positive test results stories in 2012, I was hailed as the go-to guy for P.E.D.s in boxing. But as I continued along the path of reporting, many of my fellow media members turned on me. Maybe it’s my caustic nature. Maybe it’s my impatience with their inability to learn or unwillingness to be as relentless as I have been. Either way, I now get derided for my coverage though I’ve never reported that someone tested positive when he didn’t and haven’t had to retract a single story or fact regarding P.E.D.s in boxing. I’ve been called everything by my fellow media from a race traitor (I am of Mexican descent but was born in the U.S.), to a charlatan whose coverage of P.E.D.s in boxing is nothing more than opportunistic egotism meant to boost my popularity as a writer.
At the same time, I have become something of a target and a pariah in the sport because of my commitment to covering the issue. I have received numerous threats to my career and my physical well-being both publicly and privately, in person and online. I was third party-threatened with the loss of all my teeth and then actually pursued through a parking lot by Pacquiao’s former strength coach, Alex Ariza for investigating claims he might be involved in the world of P.E.D.s. To date, the only “reporting” done on Ariza’s attempt to assault me has been part of the derision of me on Twitter by fellow boxing media.
I’ve been banned by Golden Boy Promotions for asking questions about their contractual agreements with USADA. GBP even went so far as to accuse me of spreading a rumor about Mayweather testing positive three times but having it covered up. They threatened to sue me via cease-and-desist order if I continued to “spread” the “rumor.” Unwilling to bow to such pressure and feeling that it was an important stance for a media member to take for all of us, I printed the cease-and-desist and have yet to be sued.
To boot, fellow media have accused me of “yellow journalism.” To me, the only yellow journalism going on is the collective cowardice by boxing media, with few notable exceptions, in covering P.E.D.s in boxing.
One respected media member personally requested everything I had written on P.E.D.s to date (at the time, it was around 25 articles. It’s closer to 50 now), summarized them, added a few details of his own and submitted it for an investigative journalism award to the Boxing Writer’s Association of America - and he won.
One recent example of how the perception of this writer has ludicrously changed came on Twitter, where I was openly threatened by a fighter with no consequence to him and zero reporting on the incident by my “comrades” in the media.
On January 2, 2014 at 2:10 p.m., PT, Jean Pascal, who was training at Shane Mosley’s Big Bear, CA gym at the time, tweeted (@jeanpascalchamp) to me, “this is ur last warning!!! U better mind ur Freaking business” and tagged Interbox Director of Operations, Ian Edery (@Ianedery1) , GYM promoter Yvon Michel (@yvonmichelGYM), Interbox’s official Twitter account (@Interbox) and Pascal’s strength-and-conditioning coach, Angel “Memo” Heredia AKA Angel Hernandez (@Guruscience), who has a questionable track record when it comes to P.E.D.s.
As I had not been investigating Pascal, tweeting him, nor contacted him in any way since April of 2013, the warning came out of nowhere as far as I was concerned. From what I knew, anti-doping testing for Pascal-Lucian Bute had already begun in late November of 2013. In my opinion, there was no reason to wonder any further about Pascal and Heredia regarding this fight with Bute, seeing as how both men are now part of a random anti-doping program.
Pascal apparently felt the need to warn me, regardless.
“Or u will face my big time lawyers,” Pascal tweet-warned me. “I don’t play with people of ur kind. #lawsuit @ianedery1, @jeanbedardcage, @yvonmichelGYM”
Pascal then threatened to expose emails of mine he had apparently obtained. “Just dare me!!! I’ll disclose ur game on twitter,” he threatened.
“I dare you,” I immediately replied.
“Don’t get smart with me b4 I put the email on twitter,” Pascal warned me, further explaining what he meant by “exposing ur game.”
I reminded him I had just dared him to. I did not, however, double-dog-dare him.
When I asked Pascal how he had obtained an email of mine considering I have never emailed him, he replied, “lol lol U didn’t send it to me but I got it ah ah!! U dared me so now I have no choice to put it out there.”
Pascal continued though some of his tweets appear to have been deleted since. However, he did promise to reveal these mystery emails by the end of that day.
“U think ur tuff now u have to deal with it cuz u dared me and trust me and I ask everyone I’m a man of my word,” Pascal tweeted me.
He would tweet within the same thread ()though to no one in particular), “No time for u just got a call from my lawyers...next tweet will be the emails then I’m done. Got to stay focus. Won’t waste my Energie on u.”
Then Pascal tweeted a boxing fan, “I know I have to wait a lil but but it will be today 4sho.”
In closing, Pascal threw out another innocuous threat, “Going to take a nap b4 my next session of sparing. Poor my patner cuz I’ll picture him as @Gabriel_Montoya ah ah ah!!”
In the 12 days and counting since that unsolicited attack/threat/promise, Pascal has yet to reveal any emails of mine. Perhaps my proxy sparring partner did better than expected. And to this date, after having gone through all of my emails regarding Pascal, I can’t, for the life of me, figure out quite what it is that Pascal would be revealing if he had any access to my email account through a hack of any kind.
However, a week ago, in an interview about his stable (which operates out of Big Bear, CA), trainer Abel Sanchez gave me an odd quote that perhaps revealed why Pascal was even thinking about me at all while preparing for his biggest fight since losing his title to Bernard Hopkins in May of 2011.
I asked Sanchez if his fighter, WBA middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin had sparred with Pascal as both men were training near each other in separate gyms.
“No, no, never,” Sanchez replied. “Back in November, I talked to [Pascal’s trainer] Mark Ramsey and I talked to some of [Pascal’s] people. Pascal came up to my gym and looked at my gym and decided he wanted to train at my gym. He rented a house. And he was going to be up the last week in December. But right after I talked to Pascal and we came to an agreement on terms, I found out that he was working with ’Memo’ Heredia. And I really don’t want that in my gym. So I asked him to back out. I told him that I was going to back out on our agreement because I really didn’t want to be involved with somebody that was working with Heredia.”
It’s just speculation on my part but perhaps Pascal felt I had something to do with how Sanchez feels about Heredia. Again, in the interest of full disclosure, that comment sparked the first time Sanchez and I ever discussed Heredia.
My hope and goal are that boxing avoids that dark day when someone dies in the ring or is permanently injured and the fighter responsible tests positive for a drug we could have detected with a random testing program before the fight. Fame? This is boxing journalism. Money? This is boxing journalism. Glory? Did I mention this is a niche genre called “boxing journalism”? Accolades, criticisms, physical threats and assaults don’t matter to me. Awards should only be given when a permanent solution is reached, not a second before. The only thing that should truly matter to me, fans and media alike is fulfilling the goal of year-round, random anti-doping testing in boxing, ensuring a clean sport.
Regardless of how Pascal or any other fighter may feel about me and my work on anti-doping in boxing, I will continue to report on the issue. Regardless of the misconception that I think every fighter is using and is on some sort of McCarthy-esque witch hunt, I will continue to do my work fairly and responsibly. When asked for advice or knowledge on the subject, I will continue to freely give it and do so in the most responsible and comprehensive manner I can. If a fighter, fight camp, trainer or media member feels the need to verbally, intellectually or physically assault me, so be it. I care about boxing in general. In particular, I care about the health and safety of each combatant, male or female. Boxing is the Wild West in so many ways. If I can help to tame this bucking bronco aspect of our sport, even at my own peril, so be it. I am an adult who has chosen to do this for no other reason than it needs to be done. Let the chips fall where they may. Bring it.
January 13, 2014
Bute-Pascal and the GYM-Interbox Protocol
When Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal were first scheduled to square off on May 25 of last year, not only was it going to be a Canadian history-making fight in terms of revenue generated but also regarding how it was to be tested. Each man, promoted by Interbox and GYM respectively, agreed to undergo random anti-doping tests for possibly three fights including a potential interim fight and a rematch. When Bute was injured a few weeks out from the fight, the bout seemed to be in jeopardy. At the time, the testing protocols were still being worked out thus the testing was postponed until the new date was finalized and contracts signed.
In November, with the fight rescheduled for this January 18, 2014, testing began for both men. At the point the protocol was created, I was asked not to reveal what tests and administrative protocols I had suggested at the peril of the entire program. Since then, a few details have emerged.
Per Interbox Director of Operations Ian Edery’s Twitter account (@Ianedery1), the GYM-Interbox Protocol as it pertains to Bute-Pascal is as follows:
Both men will be undergoing random anti-doping testing from late November 2013 to January of 2015, spanning the first fight, a potential interim bout and a possible rematch. Both blood and urine sample collection will be conducted randomly at least once a month. The protocol will include the standard PED testing panel, testing for the blood doping drug EPO as well as exogenous testosterone using the Carbon Isotope Ratio testing method. Baseline levels for each fighter will be collected and collated to form a “biological passport” of each combatant, meaning they will be determined through the testing. Over a long enough time line, the data collectors will analyze the findings. “Spikes” in those baseline measurements can be used to determine if either man is doing something that might be undetected by standard testing. That particular part of the protocol is a first in boxing and can only be truly effective when fighters enter a program on a consistent basis the way Bute and Pascal have.
Taken as a whole, the GYM-Interbox Protocol appears to be as sophisticated a program as there is in the sport. But what is more significant is that both promoters have been using it for not only these two fighters but for fights not involving them. GYM fighter and WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson has been a part of the testing program for his last three fights. It is unknown if he is being tested year round the way Bute and Pascal are.
While not every fight and fighter in the Gym-Interbox universe is being tested year round or as consistently or often as Bute and Pascal will have been when January 2015 rolls around, the precedent is a significant one on a few levels.
For one, the level of testing sophistication takes the bar raised to the highest of levels in boxing by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) and attempts to raise it even further. Secondly, GYM and Interbox came to this agreement mutually and without negative attacks on each other in the press. They have agreed to include the commissions, Fight Fax, Boxrec and the Association of Boxing Commissions in the event of a positive test result.
Boxing as a whole can learn a lot from this level of testing sophistication and cooperation between two rival companies.
Pascal has fought once in 2012 and once in 2013 since losing his back-to-back fights to Bernard Hopkins in 2010 and 2011. Yes, I am aware his first fight with Hopkins was a draw. And yes, like everyone else in boxing, I didn’t think it was a draw. But under Heredia, Pascal seems rejuvenated and ready to make another run. His confidence, at least on Twitter, appears sky high.
Bute has fought once since getting blown out in five rounds at 168 pounds by Carl Froch in 2012. The return of Bute against Denis Grachev in late 2012 did little for anyone’s confidence in the Romanian southpaw. While he appears to be the better technician, at age 33, the miles seemed to have caught up with him. His confidence and surgically-repaired hand are X-factors in this fight - so is Heredia’s impact on Pascal.
In a close fight that goes to the cards, I can see Bute edging it. But in a physical, hardnosed war, I lean toward Pascal by stoppage.
A further look at both men as the week wears on will be warranted before officially picking.
Keith Kizer resigned (or from what I hear, was asked to leave). He isn’t dead. There is no reason to act as if he was anything but terrible for combat sports, P.E.D. testing and fighter safety in Nevada. Let’s not get all revisionist in regard to his awful track record as Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission. Good riddance. My only regret is that the door didn’t hit him in the ass on the way out.
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