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Rios on DMAA, Heredia, Ariza and More: Part Two

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)

By Gabriel Montoya

Part One

When we left off, former lightweight titleholder Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, a few months removed from his lopsided loss to Manny Pacquiao, was telling one version of why he thinks he tested positive for DMAA following a post-fight drug test administered by drug-testing agency, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
Rios admitted to taking the energy drink Jack3d, which used to contain the banned substance and was outlawed by the Food and Drug Administration in April of 2012. By July of 2013, the FDA had confiscated and destroyed over $10 million worth of the product. Rios claimed he took the substance in China, same as he had at times during his camp for the November 2013 fight.

Despite saying he took the energy drink, Rios seemed to blame the positive drug test not on the stimulant but on the doping control officer (DCO) from IDTM, who was sub-contracted by VADA to handle the collection of urine and blood on the evening of the fight. According to Rios, the DCO approached him after he had already given his post-fight urine sample to the Chinese Professional Boxing Organization (CPBO). Because of this, he invited the tester upstairs to his suite where he would drink more water in an effort to urinate again for the sample collection of VADA.
“I get out of the ring; I piss for the Chinese commission or whatever,” said Rios to David Duenez and me on “I came back. And all of a sudden, I had a f*cking…then the VADA. They go, ‘Hey, motherf*cker, you gotta take a piss again.’ [Writer’s note: I don’t believe that is a direct quote from the DCO.] “I told them, ‘Well, I just took a piss for the commission. Where the f*ck were you if your piss was first? You should have been in line first. It’s not my f*cking fault, so you guys have to follow me to my room and you’ll have to wait until I piss again.’
“Then the guy came in my room but when the guy came to my room, I was in my room waiting, waiting, waiting,” Rios continued. “Drinking water, whatever I have to do in order to take a piss again. 30 minutes later, I go, ‘Hey, dude; I gotta take a piss now. F*ck it, I gotta take a piss now. I’m ready.’ [The Doping Control Officer, likely from IDTM] told me, ‘Hold on, I don’t have none of the stuff with me.’ I’m like, ‘What the f*ck? You don’t have none of the stuff? What the f*ck are you representing? You’re supposed to follow me to take a piss but you don’t have none of the stuff with you [that I can leave a sample in]? That’s kind of bullsh*t.’ And he goes, ‘I can go downstairs and get it.’
Rios explained that since the DCO was alone in the room (they generally travel in pairs but appear to have been separated here while one escorted Rios to his room), they sent two of Rios’ team to retrieve the DCO’s sample collection equipment from the IDTM’s DCO partner downstairs. Rios had issue with that as well.
“So that’s kind of fishy right there too. The VADA gave it to [Rios’ team]. It’s like, ‘How do you know this f*cker works for me? You don’t know if they work for me or not and you gave them the thing like to bring it to my room?’ So it’s kind of stupid,” said Rios despite the fact that the two men sent to pick up the sample collection gear from the other IDTM officer were his personal assistant and a co-trainer.
So despite Rios already saying in the interview that he took an energy drink named Jack3d, known to carry DMAA, and having tested positive for that substance on the night of the fight, Rios is going with this story instead as to why he tested positive.
“They took forever to come to my room, literally, a long time. My piss was coming out,” explained Rios. “I told the guy [still in the room], I told this fool, ‘Hey, I have to take a piss bad.’ So he said, ‘You know what? Let’s piss in this cup. When you piss in the cup, the regular drinking glass cup, we can transfer it to this and that. So piss in the cup; we’ll transfer that cup into the [sample container] and then we’ll put it in the A and B sample.’ I was like, ‘OK, whatever.’ So I pissed in the cup and that cup was a f*cking dirty cup too; you know? So I pissed in the cup and they came in and did their thing. And then I come back to the U.S.A. and I’m f*cking tested positive. That’s kind of bullsh*t.”
I’ll let you decide in what direction that last sentence should be pointed.
Rios also questions why he tested positive for something he took all throughout camp.
“The other thing I thought was fishy was that the whole time I tested here in the States, I tested clean, clean, clean. But the same sh*t I did in China is the same sh*t I did in Oxnard and I came out negative on every single test until the last f*cking test,” said Rios. “After the incident that happened with [Freddie] Roach and [Alex] Ariza, I came up positive on the last test - and it wasn’t a full positive. It was a trace of positive. It wasn’t a full-blown, evidence-on, ‘He’s on this sh*t.’ It was just a trace of it. That’s like me taking a sh*t and not wiping my ass right and leaving a trace in my underwears.”
As my co-host, Dave Duenez aptly pointed out to Rios, “But that still means you took a sh*t though.”
“Yeah,” Rios would concede.
It should be noted that stimulants such as DMAA are only tested for before the event. Out-of-competition training, such as Rios’ training camp, does not bar the use of stimulants. Rios using an energy drink containing DMAA on the evening of the fight would benefit him in terms of reaction time and endurance. And it would be tested for on the evening of the fight, hence the positive result after weeks of negative results.
And again, “trace” is a scientific word. Typically, trace analysis of an athlete’s urine and metabolites found therein is measured up to parts per million. Anything up to and beyond parts per billion or trillion is considered “ultra-trace,” an even lower concentration. Either way, million, billion or trillion - guess what? You have a banned substance in your body while competing. And it’s qualitative; it’s either in your system or it’s not. And there is no legal allowance for DMAA in competition.
Make sense?
A quick anti-doping primer:
VADA is a voluntary anti-doping administrator with non-negotiable policies and protocol. Fighters volunteer to join the program. A sponsor or the fighter himself pays for the testing. In the U.S., DCOs from Denmark-based Clearidium collect samples. Abroad, IDTM collects. Most likely, the Olympic-testing labs in Montreal, Utah or in Los Angeles are used to conduct the high level of testing done on VADA samples.
In the event of a positive A sample result such as in this case, VADA receives the result from the lab, informs the aforementioned parties and at that time, informs the local commission, the promoters of record, the fighter and anyone the fighter contractually allowed to be notified. In the case of a positive result, the local commission handles the penalty and sanctioned phase. When the fighter is notified of his positive result, he is also informed they can have the B sample tested to confirm or deny the result. This is generally done as the basis for a protest which usually happens if an athlete believes it is a false positive. However, it is not uncommon for an athlete to leave the B sample untested and attack process, such as Ryan Braun famously did two years ago when he initially was caught using synthetic testosterone:
He later recanted his story and apologized for his drug use:
For all their protests and theories about Rios’ positive drug test being from just an energy drink or a dirty glass in China, an unprepared tester or a conspiracy to discredit him because Ariza kicked Roach in the chest, Team Rios did not protest the result anywhere but in the media. They did not have the B sample tested, formally request a hearing to clear his name nor offer actual proof of any impropriety. Rios claims he didn’t protest because he didn’t know he could.
“We didn’t protest because we didn’t know until we got to the U.S.A.,” claimed Rios. “All I know is I tested positive. Cameron [Dunkin, Rios’ manager] told me I tested positive. They didn’t say you can protest. ‘You have a chance to protest. You have a chance to this or that,’ because if they did, I would have f*cking done that. I would have cleared my name up because I’m not a f*cking drug user. I don’t need that advantage to win the fight. It wasn’t even steroids or nothing. It was a f*cking energy drink. That was it. And so if they would have told me, I would have protested. And I would have cleared my name up because this is kind of bullsh*t. We’re not no f*cking steroid user or nothing like that. F*ck no.”
Let it be clear. Rios’ promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions is a Harvard lawyer. Rios’ manager, Cameron Dunkin is one of the best in the business. His trainer, Robert Garcia was voted “Trainer of the Year.”
According to the CPBO, they gave Rios a letter on December 2, 2013 which stated he had until December to show cause in writing why a five-month suspension imposed by the commission should be not be enforced.
“I don’t know. I did not get no letter on the second. The only letter I got was the test positive results. Nothing about a protest. No nothing like that. They showed me a copy of the paper that what I tested positive for, that I signed off on.
“That was all they sent me,” said Rios.
To Rios, a protest was not what came to mind when he first heard the news.
“It didn’t cross my mind. First thing when I tested positive, I went straight to Robert and to Ariza,” explained Rios. “We had a big argument about it. It was crazy. Me, Ariza and Robert had an argument. All of us were like, ‘What the f*ck? What the f*ck?’ It was just crazy. I never questioned. We never even thought about [protesting] because my mind was so heated up. I was just pissed, the fact that I lost the fight, the fact that I fought my ass off. Then all of sudden, I get back and I get a double whammy. I get back and I test positive. That never happened to me, so it’s f*cking crazy. And to me, my mind was distracted by all the things that hit me at once. It was just one big cloud hit me at once and it f*cked me up.”
So which is it? A dirty cup or an energy drink known to contain the substance found that night in Rios’ system?
“It could have been both,” offered Rios. “I think it was the glass too because they said they found traces. They didn’t say they found the whole thing. They said they found traces. It’s not my fault that VADA didn’t come with the right tools when they followed me. That’s not my job. My job is to fight. Their job is to follow me, make sure they have the right tools and make sure they have the right thing with them the whole time when they are following an athlete.”
It should be noted that while Rios refers to the people charged with collecting his samples that night in China as “VADA,” those present were/are employees of IDTM, a highly-regarded and widely used international sample collection company that handles accounts as prestigious and elite as the Olympics. They are not new to procedures and policies at the elite level. They are World Anti-Doping Agency-trained and certified.
In the end, Rios doesn’t seem to think what he did was that big a deal to bother going through any mechanizations to clear his name. To hear him tell it, this was all business as usual for his stable.
“I could go back and make a big hassle about it but, you know, it is what it is. It just proves that it was nothing, man, because look: [WBO super featherweight champion] Mikey [Garcia] is doing the same thing I’ve been doing and I’ve been with Mikey the whole time. We trained together and he came out negative,” explained Rios who trains with Mikey Garcia at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, CA. “[WBA welterweight champion Marcos] Maidana was doing the same sh*t I was doing, taking all the testing and he came out f*cking negative. It just shows that there is nothing. That’s what you are trying to [say when you say], ‘Oh, I think Ariza gave him something dirty.’ No, it’s nothing like that. F*ck it. You know; why go on to another hassle, man? You do it. You deal with it and f*cking move on, man. Life’s a bitch then you die. F*ck it. Move on, man. I don’t have time for this protest. I should do that to clear my name up but I know that deep down inside, I am f*cking clean. I am not a dirty fighter. It was just a trace of something. It was just energy drink. F*ck it. It what it is, man.”
On a roll, Rios continued discussing his use of the energy drink.
“It was Jack3d. We don’t f*cking use that stuff all the time,” he explained. “Yes, I used it before when it was on the market. That’s when [Garcia cutman] Dr. [Roger] Anderson said, ‘Hey, don’t drink that drink. That is no good,’ so we stopped using it. Only time we use it like this time, only reason I used it because I was f*cking tired and everything. So after training hard, training everything, it just woke me up. That was it. It wasn’t like I using it all the f*cking time but that one time I was using it, it kinda f*cked me, so f*ck it. It is what it is. We can’t do nothing about it. Nothing. Just move on and f*ckin’…I’m not going to tell about this and motherf*ckers and this. F*ck it. It is what it is. Life’s a bitch and then you die.”
Rios was asked about his relationship with Angel “Memo” Heredia. The two men worked together once heading into the Mike Alvarado rematch last March but following Rios’ 12-round decision loss, he went in a new direction. Heredia’s replacement was Alex Ariza, who had recently been let go by Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer.
“The reason [Heredia] didn’t return is we didn’t agree about certain terms, money-wise.” said Rios, “so that’s what it was. It had nothing to do with us having a bad relationship. There was nothing bad between us, nothing like that. Heredia was a great trainer and he does great stuff with what he does but it was just agreement terms.”
Rios was asked if Heredia had him sign any sort of confidentiality agreement.
“No, he never had me sign a contract. I had him sign a contract, actually, saying that if I test positive, in a certain way, he is responsible for it and I could sue him for whatever he did,” said Rios. “But other than that, there wasn’t nothing…we didn’t agree money-wise. That’s what it was. It had nothing to do with it being a bad relationship.”
Why would a fighter need a strength coach to sign a contract stating he is liable and will not get paid if said fighter tests positive?
When asked why Rios and Heredia kept their relationship secret from the press in the weeks leading up to the Alvarado rematch, Rios gave two reasons.
“It was just mind games. That was it. But it was nothing like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to get caught.’ If that was the case, I would hide Ariza. It was nothing like that. It was mind games,” said Rios before adding, “[Heredia] also didn’t want people to know either. He told me, ‘Keep that right now between us.’ If reporters came and said something, we would say, ‘Yes, we are working together but [Heredia] didn’t want it out there yet.’”
While Ariza and Heredia have differing training styles, according to Rios, they do have one thing in common.
“Yeah, I did have the same [contract] with Ariza,” said Rios, “and Ariza knows. Ariza knows that…that he didn’t get paid.”
If true, perhaps that answer is all we need to know about Brandon Rios, Alex Ariza and the DMAA positive result.
You can email Gabriel at, follow him on Twitter at and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim, now at its new home, or via iTunes subscription at You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PT.
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