The entire sports world has been forced to take a backseat over the past few weeks thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic that has swept through virtually every part of the world.
Medical officials predicted that it would be bad, but no one could have anticipated what has actually taken place. Professional boxers have been hit particularly hard. They have been banned from gym’s and find it nearly impossible to stay in fighting shape.
With fighters forced to the sidelines, they’ve quickly found out that the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) has joined them.
It’s no secret that boxing has long had an issue with performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Thanks to companies such as VADA though, many of these issues have become a thing of the past.
In recent years, the World Boxing Council (WBC) has taken things a step further. With president Mauricio Sulaiman instituting the Clean Boxing Program, boxers have found it increasingly more difficult to get away with using PEDs. Now however, the door has seemingly been flung wide open.
With social distancing the biggest weapon medical experts have implored us all to use amid this global pandemic, it has effectively left VADA obsolete.
“We are the administrators for the World Boxing Council program,” said president of VADA, Dr. Margaret Goodman. “They have over 600 fighters in their program. But they have decided to pause and suspend that program for the time being. So we are not testing those individuals. I wasn’t really in agreement with that but I do understand that it is their program. I just hope that this doesn’t last for too long.”
In years past, the use of PEDs was an all too common theme in the sport of boxing. Testing was not as sophisticated as it is today, so it was easy for fighters to load up on PEDs without having to worry about the ramifications of getting caught.
Simply put, cheating was easy.
With the immediate boxing schedule nonexistent at this point, the window of opportunity to cheat seems like a wide open one.
However, of the 600 names that are currently enrolled in the Clean Boxing Program, they haven’t been taken off the testing list entirely
“We still have fighters that have joined VADA but they have fights that are postponed. But we still have fighters that are still subject to testing. Some of those include Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev who were supposed to compete in June. We also have Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin. Then we have the two women fighters, Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor which is a big fight.”
“We know that some of these fights are going to be postponed but the fighters are still subject to testing. Our testing has definitely been slow. We are obviously taking into consideration all of the recommendations from the CDC to make things as safe as possible for the fighters and testers if they go to test.”
Fighters who believe in having a fair playing field are wiping their collective brows. At some point, normalcy will return and fighters don’t want to find themselves at a decided disadvantage.
With that being said, those disadvantages can still occur thanks to the new rules that are associated with testing.
“We ask them a series of questions such as if they have traveled or been to any hot spots. If they’ve had any cold or flu like symptoms that are similar to Covid-19. We’re also asking the athletes if they want to be tested, because under these severe circumstances I can see that it could be concerning to have someone come into your home or place of work unannounced. So we actually give them that opportunity to say whether or not they want to be tested or not.”
For fighters looking to give their career a boost with the help of illegal substances, they have essentially been given the green light. With over half a million individuals infected with the Coronavirus worldwide, and over 15,000 thousand deaths, social distancing will continue for the foreseeable future.
Dr. Margaret Goodman, has expressed her concern. But instead of sitting on her hands, she has decided to implement new ways that fighters can at the very least, continue to live a life that doesn’t involve cheating the system.
“We are going to allow fighters to get their supplements certified and tested with banned substance control groups. We are also going to host online webinars to further educate athletes on the dangers of PEDs. Most fighters want to demonstrate their commitment to a clean sport. And what I have seen is that most fighters that have volunteered to enter the program want to prove that they are clean fighters.”
The hope for Dr. Margaret Goodman, is that fighters don’t use this time to take advantage of the current loophole in the system. At this point, that might only be wishful thinking. With no end in sight for this global pandemic, the boxing world could have a slew of other issues once it does resume.