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Robert Garcia Part One: The Epinephrine Rule

Robert Garcia
Robert Garcia


On January 25, 2014, WBO super featherweight titleholder Mikey Garcia successfully defended his title against Juan Carlos Burgos at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The fight was televised by HBO and promoted by Top Rank Promotions. The New York State Athletic Commission was the body charged with making sure the fighters followed the rules of both New York State and the Association of Boxing Commissions, whose rules governed the bout. Among the rules was one regarding the use of the drug Epinephrine (Adrenaline) which, when applied topically by a cutman or trainer, helps to stop lacerations or bloody noses suffered in fights. However, it has a dual use as a powerful stimulant when inhaled. That use is prohibited.
 
Prior to the bout, in an exchange on Twitter with Mikey Garcia and his brother/trainer, Robert Garcia, it was learned by Maxboxing.com that the Garcias use Epinephrine as a preventative measure. Soaking dental gauze rolls in the solution and placing them in the nose of the fighter to serve as a vasoconstrictor, as they tell it, helps stop bleeding in the pending fight. As it turns out, this practice is against the rules of combat sport, both professionally and in the amateur ranks.

A perusal of the Association of Boxing Commission rules yielded this:
 
In the case of a cut, only the topical use of the following is allowed: a. A solution of adrenaline 1/1000 b. Avetine c.Thrombin **All other solutions are prohibited.
 
The New York Commission released this statement to Maxboxing.com:
 
NYSAC permits the use of Epinephrine/Adrenaline only for the treatment of open lacerations on the face and/or actual nose bleeds through a cotton swab applied into the nose. The drug is applied to constrict the blood vessels and stop bleeding. All other uses of Epinephrine/Adrenaline and/or other applications of the substance are prohibited in the sport of professional boxing in the State of New York, per the policy of the NYSAC.
 
On the night of the fight, Robert Garcia’s son, Robert Jr. (@_RGarcia3) tweeted, “How funny that all of sudden the rules change and the corner cant do what theyve done for 20+ years. F*cking hilarious.”
 
Robert Garcia recently made an appearance on www.leaveitintheringradio.com with my co-host David Duenez and me. Typically a fighter is met by his athletic commission inspector when he arrives at the arena. That person or persons remain with the fighter and their team until after all post-fight duties are met (drug test, meeting with the ringside physician, etc). Garcia explained what happened in the locker room prior to the bout.
 
“Look, when we get to the rules meeting, they bring in a doctor and the commissioners are talking about the rules like they normally do,” Garcia explained. “Then they brought up our doctor and they stated that they didn’t want nobody pretty much, pointing at me. They didn’t want nobody in the dressing room putting anything on the fighter’s nose before the go out in the ring or during the fight. They didn’t want to see anybody working with medicine unless there was blood. We couldn’t put no Q-Tips, no nothing around the fighter’s nose unless there is blood.”
 
Garcia feels his team is being targeted. A much-publicized incident caught on camera involving Garcia’s fighter, Marcos Maidana and strength coach Alex Ariza between rounds 11 and 12 of the recent Adrien Broner fight yielded an ongoing investigation by the Texas Department of Licensing. The day before that incident, another of Garcia’s fighters also trained by Ariza, Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios, tested positive for DMAA.
 
 
“You know, that is something that they pretty much did for us because recently what a lot of people were saying we put those rolls in his nose before we go up to the ring,” said Garcia.
 
However, Garcia had already publicly admitted to this writer to using Epinephrine and I had written about this heading into the bout with Burgos.
 
 
Garcia defended his pre-fight use of Epinephrine.
 
 “You know, I do this with every single one of my fighters but the fact that Ariza is working with me now, [people act like] that is something that he brought up. No, I always used it with all my fighters. Dr. Anderson, who is my cutman, has done it since I was fighting, has done it to every one of my fighters for four rounds, six rounds, fighting for the championship. He does it to every single one of my fighters but now, because Ariza is with us, it’s him bringing this to our team. But we’ve always used it and there are so many other coaches, so many other cutmen who do the same thing. Right before we go out in the ring, we do that. It’s to keep the fighter from bleeding. It’s not to take advantage of anything before the fight. It is what it is. I guess success comes with all this. It’s just people making up stories and trying to blame us for something that, uh…they want to blame us for something.”
 
Garcia seems to feel his team is being unfairly targeted.
 
“But the bottom line is that they reinforced it because of my team,” said Garcia. “That’s the only reason they enforced it. They never try to enforce laws or any different when Ariza was working with [Freddie] Roach or actually [Manny] Pacquiao. That was the best team ever. They were working so good and everyone was giving them credit or respect but now, with me, they are finding any little excuse to blame us for stuff that we shouldn’t be doing. You know what I mean? I just don’t think it’s fair but I guess all I have to do is keep winning.”
 
When asked if the New York State Athletic Commission had implemented new rules regarding Epinephrine use, the NYSAC said no, sending Maxboxing.com this statement:
 
There were no new rules set in place for the use of epinephrine this past Saturday night in that the indications for use of the drug have not changed. New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) inspectors were diligent in ensuring compliance with existing policies. Consistent with ABC recommendations, in the case of a cut, only the topical use of the following is allowed: a) A solution of adrenaline 1/1000 b) Avetine c) Thrombin. All other solutions are strictly prohibited.
 
Garcia said that he does not believe that the use of Epinephrine, which he apparently is quite familiar with, gives his fighters an added edge in the fight.
 
“No, because it’s something that doesn’t have to do with giving a fighter an advantage. What we do, the way I do is to put it in the nose so he doesn’t bleed. I used to bleed a lot during training and through the fights, I never bled. I use it with my amateurs. I use it with every single one of my fighters,” explained Garcia.
 
Let’s ignore for a second that Epinephrine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Isn’t using a substance prior to a nosebleed happening when it is against the rules, in order to prevent a natural injury from occurring, performance-enhancing?
 
According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), “a substance or method will be considered for the WADA Prohibited List if the substance or method meets any two of the following three criteria:
 
1)     It has the potential to enhance or enhances sport performance
2)     It represents an actual or potential health risk to the athlete
3)     It violates the spirit of sport
 
Does this use meet any of the aforementioned criteria?
 
Garcia further defended the practice by stating that when his fighters have the Epinephrine-soaked gauze rolls in their noses, they are breathing through their mouths.
 
“When they have that in their nose, they are breathing through their mouth. They’re not breathing through their nose, so they are not trying to breathe anything in,” Garcia said. “They are just breathing through their mouth so I don’t know why trying to use that an excuse to say that helps a fighter. It doesn’t because we are not having them breathe it in. They are breathing through their mouth.”
 
It should be noted that once the rolls come out, the inside of the fighter’s nose is coated with Epinephrine. The mouthpiece goes in when the fight begins and from there on in, a fighter is almost always breathing through his nose.
 
Garcia, who runs the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, CA and trains both amateur and championship-level pros, conceded that his team will now be complying with the rules since they now know the rules exist.
 
“Oh, we are following it. We did follow it. We didn’t use it with Mikey [in New York vs. Burgos],” said Garcia. “Of course we have to follow the rules - but we were never told that was a rule. We were never told that was a rule that we couldn’t do, so we always used it when I was fighting, 15, 20 years ago when I was fighting. A lot of other coaches have come out and said, ‘We used it too.’ I’m not the only one that does that. A lot of coaches do it. If it was a rule that was not enforced, then I didn’t know it was a rule because nobody ever told me I couldn’t do it. I’ve done it in front of New York commissioners, in front of the Texas commission, Nevada commission, California commission and nobody has ever given us a hard time about it until now.”
 
Two things seem odd there. First, that inspectors and commissioners didn’t know this was happening or that it was against the rules of combat sports. How is that possible? Who hires these people? More important, who trains them? Two, a former world champion who runs a boxing academy and trains top level amateurs and world champions doesn’t know the rules handed down by the Association of Boxing Commissions?
 
“Now we know,” Garcia said.
 
During the night of the fight, Robert Garcia Jr. also tweeted, “Wonder if these rules are gonna be applied to everyone else.”
 
A great question.
 
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, now at its new home, www.blogtalkradio.com/thenextround or via iTunes subscription at https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/leave-it-in-ring-radio-blog/id316004573?mt=2. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show www.Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PT.
 
 
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