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USADA, Golden Boy and Positive Test Results Management - Part Two

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By Gabriel Montoya
(PART ONE)


When the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) sent an email to boxer Erik Morales on February 8, 2013 informing him they would be issuing him a two year ban for testing positive for Clenbuterol twice in the 17 days before his October 20, 2012 world title fight with Danny Garcia, it rang hollow with boxing fans and industry insiders. USADA has no jurisdiction over professional boxing, a fact succinctly stated in attorney Patrick English’s letter to USADA’s CEO Travis Tygart sent earlier this week and obtained by Maxboxing.com.

 

http://www.doghouseboxing.com/Media/LettertoTravisTygart.pdf

 

USADA allowing Erik Morales to violate the WADA code in this manner yet still compete and then banning him for it four months later makes little sense. This delayed punishment appears to be a public relations move designed to make the USADA testing program in boxing appear to have teeth. Further, by allowing Morales to compete, USADA might have violated the very World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code they purport to protect and uphold.

 

USADA’s questionable actions in boxing from Garcia-Morales 2 to the cancellations of the contracted testing for the Winky Wright vs. Peter Quillin and Adrien Broner vs. Antonio DeMarco fights bring up several alarming issues that warrant further, perhaps Federal, investigation.

 

  1. In Garcia-Morales 2, USADA had two positive tests on their hands and allowed a third test, taken Wednesday before the fight with results returning negative Friday, to be used to clear the fight to proceed. This went against their previous history in Clenbuterol cases, most notably U.S. Olympian Jessica Hardy, who withdrew from the 2008 Olympic competition following her “A” sample positive test for clenbuterol. The Mexican National soccer team had several players embroiled in a clenbuterol scandal that was later determined to be caused by meat contamination. All were suspended from competition pending an investigation. Any findings regarding contamination in either case took months to arrive at through careful investigation.

 

In the Garcia-Morales 2 case, we have the NYSAC, Golden Boy and Team Garcia green lighting a fight with two positive clenbuterol tests. According to Erik Morales, a USADA official told him on the day of the weigh-in his positive test was likely due to contamination and everything would be fine. By Thursday evening Morales was already on record citing meat contamination.

 

Why the drastic differences in how these cases were handled? Do USADA’s policies and protocols change with the client paying them? Perhaps it changes in the sport they are conducting testing in?

 

  1. The decision to fight fell to the Garcia camp not the NYSAC which had governance over the bout. Why is that? Unlike the Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson cases last year (each were tested by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, “VADA,” which has a non-negotiable policy of handing over results to the relevant state commission and cancelled due to positive test results), Morales-Garcia 2 ultimately came down to whether Danny Garcia wanted to get in the ring with a guy who had tested positive twice or not. In any other sport, that choice would not be made by the athlete.

 

According to several USADA and Golden Boy Master Agreements obtained by Maxboxing.com as well as several sources on background, the reason the NYSAC appeared in the dark when news of Erik Morales’ positive test broke was because they were. Per the Master Agreements, no party named is contractually obligated to notify a relevant state Commission in the event of a positive test.

 

 


A document obtained by Maxboxing.com “Annex B Testing Services Overview,” explains USADA procedures and protocols when a fighter tests positive.

 

When an "A" sample is determined to contain a prohibited substance, three separate samples are taken from this “A” sample and tested. These are called “aliquots.” If these aliquots come back positive, then the sample results are passed on and the athlete can choose to test the “B” sample or proceed in another fashion.

 

If the athlete chooses to test the “B” sample, the aliquot process is repeated. The athlete may be present for the process.

 

It is important to note that USADA, according to this document, does not consider an athlete to have tested positive for a banned substance until both the “A” and “B” samples have been thoroughly tested using this process.

 

According to the language in the Master Agreement between Golden Boy, the fighters, and USADA, control of every part of the process from testing to punishment is given to USADA, leaving the state athletic commission out of the process.

 

“WHEREAS in order to implement quality doping controls, the Promoter, Surname #1 and Surname #2 wish to contract USADA as an independent organization to provide services for sample collection, drug testing, Results Management Services (as defined below) and related administrative services (collectively, the “Doping Control Services”) during the period from Date through the Competition (the “Initial Testing Period”) and for any such longer period as may be necessary to complete follow up testing, analysis of samples, establishment of a review board, communication of findings, and any requested hearing (collectively, the “Results Management Services”) stemming from matters originating during or before the Initial Testing Period (the “Results Management Period”);”

 

Under “Rules”, the fighters agree to follow WADA code and also submit to USADA as if they were a regulatory body with jurisdiction over boxing, a sport governed state to state by local Athletic Commissions:

 

“6) “Surname #1 and Surname #2 agrees to submit to the jurisdiction of USADA to enforce all aspects of the Code and this Agreement in relation to them, agree to abide by any sanctions imposed through the Results Management Procedures set forth herein and agree that any anti-doping rules violation can be used by any other sanctioning body to prevent the violator from competing during any period of ineligibility determined through the Results Management Procedures provided for in this Agreement.”

 

According to this agreement, the fighters and Golden Boy have agreed to give USADA complete jurisdiction over the fight and any positive drug test result that potentially may occur. The legality and legitimacy of this is in question.

 

Earlier this week, WBC president Jose Sulaiman stated he would not back the ban by the USADA and would sanction any bout Morales wishes to stage in Mexico. Here in the U.S., Morales would likely have to go before any state commission he wished to be licensed. However, as previously reported, Morales does not intend to fight in the U.S. again.

 

Another issue with the agreed upon USADA-Golden Boy testing program has been the issue of testing programs being cancelled. There have two cases: Winky Wright vs. Peter Quillin and Antonio DeMarco vs. Adrien Broner.

 

In the Wright-Quillin case, samples were collected from both men and then the testing of the samples was abruptly cancelled. All of this happened in a matter of one week. The samples collected were allegedly destroyed before being tested. The reason given by USADA was that there was not sufficient time to educate the fighters on the process.

 

In the USADA Master Agreement under “Education,” the process does not appear to be so involved as to support USADA’s explanation:

 

Education

 

  1. Surname#1 and Surname #2 agree that on or before date they shall make themselves and any necessary assistants or representatives available for an education phone call or webinar meeting at which the various drug testing rules and requirements to which they will be subject will be explained by representatives of USADA.”

 

In emails obtained by Maxboxing.com detailing this education process on two separate occasions, a USADA official describes them as lasting roughly an hour.

 

In the case of Broner-DeMarco, the fighters signed up for the program, Broner received his education call, and DeMarco did not. Allegedly, no samples were ever collected from Broner or DeMarco and no testing ever took place. Antonio DeMarco and his promoter were not informed of this until after the fight.

 

When asked to comment as to why the testing was cancelled, USADA spokesperson Annie Skinner cited the same educational issue as in the Wright-Quillin case.

 

Neither USADA nor Golden Boy has returned requests for comment regarding why no one on Antonio DeMarco’s team was ever notified of the testing’s cancellation.

 

Luckily, the answers to what happened to the Wright and Quillin samples, which were allegedly destroyed by USADA days after being collected, may still exist in their documentation.

 

From the “Sample Analysis” section of the Master Agreement:

 

“13) USADA shall maintain Sample Collection Documentation, including test results, for testing conducted under this Master Agreement for a period of six (6) years.”

 

If any of the blood or urine samples for the Wright-Quillin aborted testing program were tested by a USADA-contracted WADA-approved lab, the documentation should still exist per this contract stipulation. Time may tell what ultimately happened.

 

Returning to the example at hand, Garcia-Morales 2, as the hours ticked down to making a decision whether to fight or not, newly crowned champion Danny Garcia was feeling the pressure.

 

According to Garcia, he was assured that if Morales’ October 10 sample came back positive for clenbuterol as the October 3 sample did, the New York Commission would intervene and the fight would be off. But that is not what happened. Instead, the NYSAC was informed of the positive tests sometime late Thursday or early Friday before the fight, and he was informed that they were going to let the fight proceed in spite of the second positive test.

 

Why would the NYSAC rule that way? For one, Morales had already been licensed to fight. He had passed NYSAC requirements. Perhaps the USADA/Golden Boy agreement had kept the NYSAC out of the loop to the point where they were simply playing catch up and didn’t feel comfortable cancelling the inaugural fight at the new Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn with little investigation. The pressure for this event to succeed had to have been tremendous on everyone involved.

 

In the final hour, no one felt the pressure more than Danny Garcia.

 

Rather than use the information provided by the USADA testing program Golden Boy Promotions insisted on, the information was seemingly ignored and Garcia was pressured to fight.

 

“I started to feel like they were putting it on me. Like the fight wasn’t going to happen because it’s my fault and everyone started coming at me,” Garcia told Maxboxing.com. “So I thought I didn’t want them to feel like I wasted everybody’s money. So I started to feel like I was the problem instead of [Morales].”

 

Some will argue Garcia should have done the brave and right thing for the anti-doping movement and said no to a million dollar payday on the fact that Morales failed the tests. The whole point of testing during training camp is to catch those using banned substances. But you cannot entirely blame Garcia for going forward. He is a prizefighter who took a calculated but educated risk.

 

In my opinion, Danny Garcia should have never been put in that situation. The USADA and Golden Boy agreement should have included the relevant State Commission from the beginning. While the fighters, promoters and managers can negotiate for who is privy to a potential positive result, notifying the relevant Commission should be non-negotiable.

 

Looking at the Garcia-Morales 2 case in particular and the USADA-Golden Boy testing as a whole, it is clear that a full investigation by federal investigators is needed.

 

From the “Commitment” section of the Master Agreement:

 

“20) By executing this Master Agreement, the Promoter, Surname #1 and Surname #2 agree not to engage in conduct that would undermine the effectiveness of doping control or to allow any person and/or entity under their control to act in a manner to undermine the effectiveness of doping control. “

 

By withholding results of positive drug test from the state commission charged with overseeing the health and safety of fighters, USADA and Golden Boy appear in violation of this agreement. Hiding test results, as appeared to be the case before the Morales story was broken by Halestormsports.com, could be interpreted as undermining the effectiveness of the doping control.

 

Perhaps on the night of October 20, 2012 and in the 17 days leading up to it, Erik Morales was not the only entity involved in Garcia-Morales 2 who was in violation of WADA code.

 

In line 21 of the “Commitment” section of the Master Agreement it states “USADA reserves the right to withdraw from or discontinue doping control if, at any time, USADA determines that conditions or circumstances exist that undermine or threaten to undermine the integrity of the doping control process.”

 

Considering USADA’s questionable actions thus far in boxing, perhaps now is as good a time as any for them to withdraw from the sport before they further undermine the integrity of their own doping control process.



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