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The Stigma: Part One (with Lamont Peterson)

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On February 22nd at the D.C. Armory in the nation’s capital, Lamont Peterson successfully defended his IBF junior welterweight title after a 14-month hiatus from the ring. Back in 2012, while preparing for his rematch with Amir Khan (whom he had defeated in December of 2011), Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone. In front of a national audience on ESPN2, he made his triumphant return by chopping down Kendall Holt in eight rounds.
 
Now that his pugilistic purgatory had ended, Peterson could exhale and look forward to bigger and better things.
 
But not for long.
 
About a month after this fight, RingTv.com’s by Lem Satterfield reported that Peterson had tested positive for a banned substance.
 
“I was trying to figure out what had happened,” he told Maxboxing of his ordeal last week. “I know I didn’t do anything on purpose, so I’m trying to figure out: ‘Did something happen?’ or is it ‘Here we go again’? So I didn’t panic; I knew that as long as I knew I didn’t do anything purposely. After I know that, then things are going to happen the way they’re going to happen. Sometimes you gotta let the hand play out. So I just told myself, ‘Look, you didn’t do anything wrong, so we’re going to see what happens.’ I didn’t let it bother me.

“Good thing is I didn’t let it bother me and shortly after, things got cleared up.”
 
In the end, it turns out it was Holt whose test was under question and eventually, both men were proven to be clean. It much ado over nothing - but not if you’re Lamont Peterson, who has already been attached to the stigma of being a drug cheat. As these allegations were first reported back in late March, social platforms such as Twitter and the worldwide mob mentality that can form in a matter of minutes didn’t hesitate to excoriate Peterson. There isn’t much due process on the internet.
 
The truth is, to some people, Peterson wears the scarlet letter. He will always be a boxer who tried to game the system and will forever be branded a cheater.
 
“Of course,” said Peterson, resigned to this fact, “and that would’ve been the case even without the situation, the Khan situation. With some people, that’s just the way it’s going to be. I understand that and then if you give ‘em something to feed off of, well, they definitely coming after you. But it’s something I’ve learned to deal with and understand that’s going to come. You just have to block it out and keep moving forward.”
 
There will always be suspicions regarding Peterson. Fair or not, that’s just the way it’s going to be for the rest of his career. And some will simply never forgive, forget or move on. And perhaps in a sport predicated on striking one’s foe, it’s understandable. Given the well-known backstory of Peterson and his brother, Anthony, you want to believe him, that what happened was just an honest oversight. But perhaps simply stating his own case isn’t enough.
 
In other sports (at least in North America), athletes who play in the NFL or NBA must undergo a more consistent set of tests once they test positive for banned substances. In boxing, you get your license suspended for a period of time but aren’t required to do any extra set of tests moving forward. But boxing is as fractured as any professional sport. Those aforementioned leagues have such entities as players unions and such rules and regulations are collectively bargained for.
 
Perhaps in order to clear his name and reputation, Peterson should follow Nonito Donaire’s lead and put himself up for random blood and urine testing throughout the year.
 
“It sounds like a good idea but at the end of the day, the situation - the first situation - we’re not totally clear on that situation yet. So I’m not so quick to just jump out and say, ‘OK, I’m going to do random drug testing.’ It’s a lot of things that are unanswered with that drug testing. So until that part is situated, I’m not going to rush into random drug testing on my own,” said Peterson, who says he does his own testing with his manager/trainer, Barry Hunter, and his wife. “So we’re up on it behind closed doors. Not so much, ‘Oh, I’m just going to go with VADA or USADA’ or whoever and just start doing drug testing with them. But at the end of the day, we are protecting ourselves behind closed doors.”
 
The problem is that testing should be done by a neutral third party in the name of fair play and having a level playing field. Peterson’s upcoming bout this weekend versus Lucas Matthysse is under the auspices of USADA, not unlike all other Golden Boy Promotions events. But Peterson makes it clear he would fully endorse more stringent testing.
 
“Yes, if you go back to the Amir Khan rematch, that was the purpose of me asking for the random drug testing (http://www.maxboxing.com/news/max-boxing-news/peterson-and-khans-vada-testing-will-leave-no-doubt). It wasn’t because I felt Khan was cheating; it’s just time to shine a light on the drug testing situation,” he stated. “A few people have done it in the past and I just wanted to continue that. I thought it was a good idea - still do.
 
“I still do think it’s a great idea to do random drug testing or extensive drug testing. History shows that regular drug testing can be worked over.”
 
The question still persists: Why wasn’t Peterson more open about the treatments he received? The lack of transparency is troubling.
 
“If I knew better, I would’ve [been]. But that wasn’t the case. I would’ve had no problem with saying it because why would I do it trying to be sneaky about it and ask for a random drug test if I passed the regular test in D.C.?” said Peterson, who believes his treatments were for a legitimate physical and medical condition and to not gain a competitive advantage (http://www.maxboxing.com/news/max-boxing-news/lamont-peterson-update-part-1-dr-john-a-thompson-and-trainer-barry-hunter-speak). It should be pointed out that his levels of testosterone were under the legal limit, unlike, say, a Mickey Bey, who came in at astronomical levels after his February bout against Robert Rodriguez in Las Vegas.
 
Peterson continues, “It makes no sense, like it was something I was hiding. I wasn’t hiding it. I probably should’ve...well, I did everything I could do. When we filled out the paperwork that asked about everything I took in the last month or whatever the dates was but it didn’t go back that far to say, ‘Oh, I had this procedure,’ take it back, say, six months or whatever. Then I would’ve told them about the procedure. Like on this last drug test we just did, paperwork was just filled out for my last fight. They asked, ‘What did you take in a year?’ I filled out everything from Tylenol to NyQuil, everything, and I sent it in. I would have done that with the VADA testing too but they only asked for a certain amount of days and that’s as far as it went back. That other part, I wasn’t even worried about that.”
 
Even if Peterson truly wanted to do year-round testing like Donaire, a big issue is that Golden Boy, in a rather bizarre offshoot of the “Cold War,” is strictly affiliated with USADA while Top Rank seems to be wed exclusively to VADA testing.
 
There’s also this reality: any fighter who undergoes such 24/7/365 testing could be putting themselves at a disadvantage versus those who will utilize illicit means. And why should any fighter be in charge of just how they are monitored? The onus is really on the regulators to reset the standards. The D.C. commission (like most others) does not utilize carbon isotope ratio testing that essentially red-flagged Peterson while he was doing VADA testing. The protocols implemented by those in charge must be modernized and updated.
 
Unfortunately, for individuals like Peterson, till the bar is raised, they will be under a darker cloud of suspicion and scrutiny because of past incidents.
 
“I’m not even concerned about those people no more,” said Hunter. “I think one of the conversations I’ve had with you awhile back, the fact that I needed to know the truth. And once we had the backing of the medical community and several specialists in this area - I was free as far as that was concerned. And whoever has a problem with it has a problem with the truth. And if you have a problem with the truth, your problems aren’t with me or Lamont; it’s with yourself. So I’m cool with that part. That I’m not worried about.”
 
And Hunter, who has played a role that goes much deeper than that of just a mere trainer or manager in Peterson’s life, takes this negative perception of Lamont quite personally. “Well, of course, no different than any other parent that loves their kids. Anytime you have someone attacking your kids, your child, in a negative way, for sure, that never goes down good. Especially if you know that what your child has done isn’t wrong. Now I’ve known situations and people that have had kids that broke the law, did wrong things and defend them. I’m not that type of person. If you’re wrong, you own it; deal with it. Whatever price you gotta pay for it, you pay it then you move on. But I’m not one of the ones that’s going to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the fact that you’re in the right and I’m going to stand by and let you be crucified. Can’t do that.”
 
Peterson’s natural testosterone levels are still an issue.
 
“A lot of times it’s up and down,” he claims. “Every once in awhile, it peaks normal but for the most part, it’s low. It’s something that we’re still trying to figure out so we can get that fixed. As of right now, I’m still performing at the top level and I’m OK with that but to be honest, I am a little afraid of my overall health as far as being a normal human being. I’m a little afraid about that. We’ll figure it out and hopefully, it’s soon.”
 
There is still a sizable portion of the boxing fan-base steadfast in its belief that Peterson and his ilk simply have no place in this sport and should be banned for life, which is both unrealistic and draconian. The reality is the subject of PEDs in boxing isn’t just dangerous and problematic; it’s also not just a black-and-white issue that can be eradicated with lifetime bans across the board. Just think about it; should a fighter really lose his livelihood because he takes a cough syrup or over-the-counter protein powder that contains trace elements of a banned substance?
 
But you have to wonder; is Peterson doing enough to clear his name and reputation?
 
And is boxing doing enough to ensure he - along with everyone else - will stay within the proper boundaries?
 
COMMISH
 
Now if I was the commissioner of boxing (admittedly, a scary thought) and could implement a clear guideline to deal with those who test positive for banned substances, it would look something like this:
 
-  After the first violation, a ban of one full year and mandatory year-round testing for the duration of the offending fighter’s career.
 
-  The second violation would result in a two-year ban, a fine of whatever half the purse is for the fight which just took place.
 
-  Third strike, well, you’re outta here.
 
FNF
 
It’s been a very good year for ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.” Here’s a look at their upcoming ledger coming into June and July...
 
-  June 7th: Johnny Molina vs. Andrey Klimov, Farah Ennis vs. Anthony Hanshaw and Maurice Lee vs. TBA
 
-  June 14th: Arash Usmanee vs. Art Hovhannisyan, Luis Ortiz vs. Travis Kaufmann
 
-  June 21st: Rances Barthelemy vs. Fahsai Sakkreerin, Caleb Truax vs. Donovan George
 
-  June 28th: Sergio Mora vs. Gregorz Proska
 
-  July 12th: Drian Francisco vs. Chris Avalos, Abi Han vs. Glen Tapia
 
HUMP DAY FLURRIES
 
HBO has announced that “2 Days: Gennady Golovkin” will premiere on June 8th after its “Boxing After Dark” presentation featuring Chad Dawson vs. Adonis Stevenson from Montreal...The battle between Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal could be rescheduled for either December 7th or January 25th of 2014, depending on the availability of HBO dates...Call me nuts (or whatever you want) but I think Lee Purdy gives a pretty good account of himself versus Devon Alexander in the Showtime opener this weekend...Ray Narh will face Ronald Cruz on the June 14th edition of “Fight Night” on NBC Sports Network...Showtime and Golden Boy are sending out clips of the Paulie Malignaggi-Adrien Broner press conference and calling it “Emotionally Charged.” Obviously, they’ve never seen the one with John Chaney and John Calipari (and yes, it’s on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6jUpHClybQ)...R.I.P. to Chuck Muncie...“The Office” on NBC is closing down and I have to say, even without Michael Scott, it finished strong…I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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