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Robert Garcia, Part Two: The Blame Game

Photo © Chris Robinson/ HustleBoss
Photo © Chris Robinson/ HustleBoss


Part One: Robert Garcia
 
The subject turned to trainer Robert Garcia’s fighter, Brandon Rios’ positive test result for the banned stimulant DMAA.
 

“I was at some other fights. [Rios’s manager] Cameron Dunkin called me. It was like December 3rd when Cameron Dunkin called me and told me. I don’t know when he called Brandon after that but Cameron is the one who called me and told me,” Robert Garcia said to me and my co-host David Duenez on the Leaveitintheringradio.com show last Thursday. The claim of hearing about the result on December 3 contradicted what Garcia had previously told me when we spoke on December 13 for this story: Maxboxing.com/rios-tests-positive.


In a letter to Rios, presumably through either Top Rank Promotions or Dunkin,” Rios was given until December 10, 2013 to protest the result by the Chinese Professional Boxing Organization (CPBO) who oversaw Rios’ 12-round decision loss to Manny Pacquiao in Macao, China. On the day of December 13, while gathering info for the story, Top Rank told me they had not heard of the positive result (Tim Smith broke the story on Ring TV) and Dunkin has yet to return a call on the matter. When Rios was given his positive result from the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, who administrated the testing done by a World Anti-Doping Agency lab, presumably either Utah, Montreal or UCLA’s Olympic testing lab, he was likely informed that he could test the B sample. This is done to challenge the result of the A finding in the event of a protest. Ultimately, the five-month ban for Rios stood.
 
That didn’t stop Team Rios and its friend - as Garcia characterized him after some debate - Elie Seckbach, who videotaped interviews with the team attacking VADA and how it handled the testing situation. So why no protest?
 
“It was just the way that it was done. VADA showed us no class, no professionalism. The way they did it, the way the guy that was handling [Rios], the guy that walked through to Brandon’s room to test him and had Brandon pee in a glass cup. He actually sent my son down to the arena to pick up the container where Brandon is supposed to be. And then when they came back, [they transferred] Brandon’s pee from the glass into the container. That was just not professionalism. He is just not doing his job the way you’re supposed to,” said Garcia.
 
Team Rios had an issue with what appeared to be the first sample collection for the fight, done in Oxnard by a male and female team of Doping Control Officers (DCO), likely from the sample collection company Clearidium. It is a World Anti-Doping Agency-certified company whose agents are supposed to adhere to WADA code. In one video, Rios is seen to be giving blood on a table at ringside in Garcia’s Oxnard gym with a Coke cup from a fast food restaurant nearby. Not exactly a hospital ward.
 
“Throughout training camp, getting out needles to collect blood, doing it right next to the ring while we have sparring matches going on. Sweat, blood is all over the place. They are doing it right there, right next to the ring. I think that is also not being professional,” Garcia rightfully said. While most post-fight sample collection of urine is done in a bathroom or locker room (again, not a hospital room in terms of sterility), the procedure of obtaining samples is something Garcia has every right to complain about or at least question.
 
Garcia’s and Rios’ accounts of both giving blood at the gym and the fateful night Rios took an IDTM DCO to his suite in Macao after the Pacquiao fight are the same. But also like Rios, Garcia had not been informed of the moving parts within the anti-doping program they were submitting to with Pacquiao.
 
To break it down, VADA is the administrator with a strict protocol. IDTM or Clearidium get sub-contracted to collect the samples. Utah, Montreal or UCLA likely do the testing per VADA’s set protocol. The results get sent to VADA who informs the contracted parties as well as Fight Fax and the relevant commission. The relevant commission hands down a sentence and is often whom handles suspensions and fines.
 
In the case of Rios, he has been banned from fighting in China for five months. If the violation happened in New Jersey or Nevada, the other U.S. states might care but it’s China. Who is really going to care enough to do anything if Rios fights inside that suspension?
 
When I explained to Garcia the difference between the sample collectors and VADA and how it all works, he still appeared adamant that VADA was somehow the culprit.
 
“Yeah, well, I guess that they got to be aware of who they are sending and who goes there because I don’t think they did a good job,” he said.
 
Surely malfeasance such as what Rios and Garcia are claiming (http://www.maxboxing.com/news/max-boxing-news/rios-on-dmaa-heredia-ariza-and-more-part-two) deserves a protest of some kind? Why wouldn’t it?
 
“Because it was no big deal. It was a trace of whatever they found,” said Garcia, echoing Rios’ erroneous idea that because the result was marked as “trace,” it meant having DMAA in his system is OK. WADA rules look at DMAA qualitatively not quantitatively. No amount of DMAA is allowed in performance. “Brandon didn’t get fined. Brandon will end up fighting again in May or June. It was no big deal.”
 
And Garcia is right. Five months’ suspension from fighting in China for a fighter likely to not fight again until June anyway is not a suspension. Top Rank will still match Rios and a network will likely feature him. And the train will roll on.
 
“Brandon wouldn’t fight anyways because he has to take some time off and everything, so why even go through it? Why go through it when there’s no need for it?” asked Garcia.
 
At the same time, with instruments and avenues of protest available, why not clear Rios’ name? Especially if this story about the glass is true and the DCOs screwed up as much as Team Rios claim they did.
 
“They did. They did. We just know what we know,” said Garcia. “They did it. We were the ones that were there. All we have to know is whatever they say, whatever they do.”
 
Garcia further stated that he and Rios weren’t presented with a protest option by Dunkin.
 
“I was very busy with Maidana,” said Garcia, referring to Marcos Maidana who Garcia was preparing for Adrien Broner on December 14. “Cameron never said to do anything, never told us to do anything. Cameron was actually supporting us but never said, ‘Let’s do this’ or ‘Let’s do that.’ I was busy with Maidana the following week. Brandon was already gone home. Right there at that point, I was focused on Maidana, not on anything else.”
 
Garcia says Rios wanted to protest. When LIITR spoke with Rios, he vacillated between wanting to protest and saying “F*ck it. Let’s move forward.”
 
“Brandon actually wanted to do it. In reality, what’s it going to do? What’s it going to do? What are we going to do? Sue VADA or whatever? Nothing we could do anyway. Nothing we could do for a trace or whatever they found,” said Garcia. “My job is to prepare the fighter for the fight and we don’t know nothing about none of this arbitra... Like I said, Cameron never advised us to do anything like that.”
 
Ultimately, Garcia is the trainer of a large stable of some 30 fighters or more from amateur to professional.
 
When asked if Garcia thought it was fair to attack VADA on videos posted on YouTube and here on the radio but not give VADA a chance to refute it in a formal protest proceeding?
 
“You know what? Whatever’s fair or not fair, I’m doing my work. You just told me that that’s not even VADA that goes and does it. I don’t know who the f*ck goes and who doesn’t go,” answered Garcia. And that’s fair. The anti-doping movement is relatively new to the sport. It’s four years old. But at some point, boxing and its trainers need to realize the new world they live in. The days using the ignorance of rules as a defense are over - or should be - especially if you are “Trainer of the Year” material.
 
When asked which he felt was at fault for Rios’ positive test, a tainted glass in Macao or a pre-fight energy drink, Garcia said “I don’t know what it is. I don’t know. I don’t give him…I don’t know what he drinks. I don’t know what he takes. I don’t know. I train him.”
 
Garcia explained that with a stable as large as his, what goes on with Rios or any fighter once training ends is on them.
 
“It’s not the same as kids. Kids live with you. Fighters don’t live with you,” said Garcia. “I can train a fighter for two hours the hardest he’s ever trained. But the rest of the time, he could go to bars, drink beer, snort some coke. Smoke some weed and that’s not…I have no control over that. I have no control of that. Your kids can be smoking pot and you don’t even know. Are you the one to be blamed? I can’t have control of 30 fighters in my gym. I can’t have 30 fighters in my house.”
 
The conversation turned to current events but then drifted back as we closed to the subject of Rios and the DMAA positive. Garcia offered that the positive result was somehow a set-up.
 
“I talked to Brandon and he did want to but he never got the go-ahead to do it. Not the promoter, not the manager, nobody supported us on that,” said Garcia of a protest. “So honestly, this might sound kind of wrong but I honestly think that it was probably a set-up, you know, from the promoter to the managers that don’t want [our camp to win]. It was a set-up. I honestly believe that it was a set-up but right now, we just leave that in the past. Brandon is going to fight. Mikey continues to fight. Maidana looked sensational. Our team is already what it is. We aren’t going to change anything. That’s our team and we are going to continue to win.”
 
But wait - who set up the set-up?
 
“We just think that somehow or some way, from what we’ve said, everything that we’ve said in interviews or articles, [nobody] has come back and said something different,” offered Garcia. “Pretty much they have kept quiet. They haven’t said nothing either, so we just continue to fight. Brandon is already in the gym. Brandon is going to be fighting sometime in May or June like nothing ever happened. He’s going to be back in the ring like nothing ever happened, so that’s all that matters to us.”
 
VADA and IDTM - if they are the “they” Garcia is referring to - have no reason to say anything. The A sample results speak for the work done by the lab, DCOs and the protocol. Had there been a protest by Team Rios, it is likely both companies would have gone on record in a hearing. As of right now, neither have any reason to speak or refute the findings of Team Rios, no matter how many videos get posted on YouTube.
 
“Theories are theories but what’s on paper is on paper,” said Duenez in closing.
 
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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