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Peterson and Khan’s VADA Testing Will Leave “No Doubt”

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)


With each day that passes, the movement toward better drug testing in boxing gains greater momentum. Monday afternoon, the latest top-shelf fighters announcing they’d be undergoing extensive blood and urine testing under the supervision of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (the VADA headed by Dr. Margaret Goodman) rolled into Los Angeles. On May 19 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, live on HBO, WBA/IBF junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson faces Amir Khan in the appropriately titled “No Doubt,” a rematch of their scintillating match-up from last year.
 
The title is meant to suggest a clarification of the first fight, held in Peterson’s hometown of Washington, DC, that saw him take Khan’s titles in a close fight Khan and his promoter, Golden Boy, felt was unjust. Whether or not you agree with the decision of the judges or referee Joseph Cooper, who took two points from Khan, following many warnings for pushing (a video showed Khan illegally pushed in excess of 50 times), this fight is meant to clear the record. Seeing as how both men have been fighting for much of their lives, it’s difficult to think the rematch will be much different despite its Vegas setting. Khan is a pure boxer who sometimes masquerades as a puncher while Peterson is a grind-it-out-on-the-inside fighter who knows his style is Khan’s Achilles’ Heel.
 

It is safe to say, however, there will be no doubt, should both men pass the extensive VADA testing. Though good natured in spirit, the idea to ask for more than Nevada’s outdated, urine-only testing was credited to the Peterson camp, in reaction to the outdated testing protocols of boxing commissions.


“Yeah,” said Peterson when asked if his camp asked for VADA testing. “It was based on just hearing about these other drugs that you can take that won’t show up in your urine. We can take urine tests all day but we take urine tests because of the old steroids. But they have new steroids that won’t show up so then, why not take the blood tests and make it mandatory? That is why I am saying as a fighter, we need to pay attention to this and make sure something gets done.”
 
Since Floyd Mayweather first asked Manny Pacquiao to undergo “Mayweather testing” supervised by the overpriced United States Anti-Doping Agency over two years ago, this has become a hot button issue. Up until this year, when VADA went online and began testing the Andre Berto-Victor Ortiz rematch rescheduled for later this year, USADA had been the only game in town. But now VADA, with its own intensive drug screening process (including using the effective exogenous testosterone detector Carbon Isotope Ratio testing, with a much smaller price tag), appears to be gaining traction and clients in the sport. With Shane Mosley and Saul Alvarez using VADA for their upcoming match on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto, it appears Mayweather Promotions stands alone in using the non-extensive USADA to test independently of the commissions.
 
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told Maxboxing.com the decision was purely an economical one, citing USADA as the Olympic standard of testing for many years. What Schaefer fails to realize is that Marion Jones, a gold medal winner who later admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, was tested over 150 times under that system and never came up positive. VADA is looking to end streaks like that. With results like Jones’, the term “Olympic-style testing” should be reconsidered. 
 
“The reason really is purely an economical reason,” said Schaefer. “VADA is much more reasonable and possible than USADA is. USADA is extremely- and you can print ‘EXTREMELY’ in capital letters- expensive.”
 
When I told Schaefer I heard USADA was charging $100,000 per fighter to VADA’s $5,000, he did not outright agree but nodded in the affirmative. Why inferior testing costs that much more than a competitor is anyone’s guess. In any case, Golden Boy should be applauded for stepping up and paying the fee to help this movement gain traction. It’s time has come.
 
“Absolutely,” said Schaefer. “I think it’s an impressive set-up that VADA has. And with fighters wanting it now, as a promoter, it is not really up to us to ask for additional drug testing. But you have fighters now asking on quite a regular basis for additional drug testing. So, of course you have to be supportive. I applaud any fighter that is doing that because is the right thing to do.”
 
To Peterson’s credit, not unlike how Andre Berto stepped up and demanded VADA testing, this demand is not about alleging an opponent is using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). This was about lifting the standard of the sport.
 
“I am a clean fighter,” said Peterson. “Not saying Khan is not a clean fighter. There are a lot of fighters out there that have been caught cheating or are cheating now and getting away. It’s already a rough sport. It don’t need to be any rougher than what it is. We don’t need one fighter in there with someone who’s a machine that night, if you get what I am saying. I think it is safer for the sport for us to do the dope and blood testing. That’s why I am going to do it. I am not saying Khan is cheating or any one that I have fought is cheating. I think, overall, it is good for the sport.
 
If the promoters, commissions or state laws won’t do it, then it is up to the men taking the punches to make the necessary changes in the sport.  
 
“If you go buy milk, you want the best product,” said Peterson of his choice in drug testing companies. “And that is what I have been hearing [about VADA] in the research that I have been doing. It seemed like the best one so that is what I am going to go with.”
 
At first, Amir Khan’s manager, Asif Vali, seemed a bit defensive when I asked how the testing process came about, understandable as this is a touchy subject nowadays. In the Mayweather-Pacquiao situation, which spawned a defamation suit from the Pacquiao camp, the demands from the Mayweather side seemed like accusations. Veiled and not-so-veiled jabs in the press from various Mayweather camp members continue. Ostensibly, it will take time before a fighter hears his opponent wants extensive blood and urine testing and does not take offense.
 
“Listen, they wanted it. Fine. It doesn’t bother us. They wanted it in the contract and I can’t understand why. It doesn’t bother us. They must be worried about something,” said Vali. “It doesn’t worry us. Amir’s a clean, healthy, young lad. He’s been living clean. He used to do the drug testing through the Olympics.”
 
Vali explained that Khan has been doing random blood and urine testing for each of his fights as a professional via the British Boxing Board of Control’s policy. Vali told Maxboxing.com that Khan has been tested both in Los Angeles and in the Philippines where he sometimes trains with stablemate Manny Pacquiao.
 
“They’ll send [inspectors across here],” said Vali. “We have a UK license so they send inspectors all the way to the Wild Card Gym. There are times when they come to the gym and Amir was not there. Marie [assistant to Khan’s trainer, Freddie Roach] would call us and an hour later, we’d show up and do the testing. [The BBBC] want to make sure that the sport in the UK is clean and that the fighters that have licenses are clean. It’s not like the Mayweather-Pacquiao thing.”
 
As for Khan, he told Maxboxing.com on Monday that he was all for the testing. In fact, he feels it should become the rule rather than the exception.
 
“I’m a clean fighter and I want to prove to boxing that all fighters should do what I am doing with the blood and urine test,” Khan said. “I’ve been doing it since the Olympics. I’ve been doing it since my amateur days. I get tested by the British Board of Boxing. They send drug testers to the Wild Card or the Philippines every time I fight. It’s unfair that if I am being tested or Lamont is being tested, why not have a proper test be set? I think more fighters should do the same.”
 
There will be a lot at stake in the coming weeks as each man gets tested as VADA has a zero tolerance policy. Should either man test positive, their results will be immediately sent to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Likely, the fight will be canceled and millions of promotional and sponsorship dollars and other potential revenue will go down the drain. This is not Major League Baseball or the National Football League where, if an athlete tests positive he gets to keep playing while the leagues hold results until the season ends and a player receives his MVP award. No, a positive result will end negatively for all involved.
 
Each man’s blood and urine was collected right before the press conference began at the Grammy Museum in downtown L.A. The samples are being tested and the clock is ticking. Change has become inevitable. The question is: when will the rest of the fighters, promoters and commissions finally get on board?
 
Oh yeah. There’s a fight to be talked about.
 
“It was simple. When we were inside close, I had my way,” Peterson told me. “When we were outside, [Khan] did a better job of not getting hit and hitting me. But in the inside, he was basically no offense, so that is how I wanted to keep it.”
 
Peterson appeared unfazed about the change of venue to Las Vegas.  
 
“I feel as though I will be OK,” said the calm, cool and confident Peterson. “The last three years, I have fought in Vegas three times. I am comfortable with the staff and the commission there. So I feel comfortable. I don’t feel I have to do anything extra. I just go in there and try to fight regardless of what the outcome is. I can’t control it. I just try and control what I can and that is how I fight.”
 
Khan was as fiery as when I first met him at the Wild Card following his loss to Breidis Prescott.
 
“I have not been this hungry ever,” Khan said. “In a way, it is a good thing. It is only going to take me to the next level and make me train harder. Looking back at my first loss, it only made me train harder. Sometime you need this to make you a better fighter.”
 
As Peterson described, Khan was completely lacking in any offense when the fight went into close quarters. Khan hopes to change things this time around.
 
“Inside game definitely,” Khan said when asked what he needs to work on this time around. “We never work on inside stuff. I know I can work on the inside. I have the power. We put Lamont down twice in the first round. We want Lamont to come on the inside because, when he does, we will have answers for everything he does.”
 
I asked Peterson if his hunger has increased or decreased since becoming the champ.
 
“Increased. I love being the champ,” he said. “The way people treat me as the champ, it makes me work that much harder in the ring. They say something changes when you become champ, that you are not the same fighter. I believe that because I just know that through all this, it is more motivation for me to keep winning and keep being the champ because. like I said, it’s a great feeling and I love it. I don’t want it to end May 19.”
 
Peterson’s problem is that Khan, who lost two belts to the man from DC, also liked being champion.
 
“I’m going to concentrate and stayed focused all through this,” said Khan. “[Peterson]’s been in the ring with some big, big names but has only been beaten once. This time, this is going to be his toughest test. I am not going to let it go. I am going to grab my titles back and take them back to the UK. I just want to set things straight. Maybe I can put all those things to bed and not worry ever again about what happened in DC.”
 
Better drug testing and two willing combatants hoping to give the fans the very best fight they can. Who could ask for anything more?
 
You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.


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