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The Real Issue At The Heart Of The Mayweather-USADA Scandal

Posted on 09/10/2015

By Sean Crose

By now you’ve undoubtedly heard of or read Thomas Hauser’s thundering article for SB Nation titled “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” The piece is quite critical of the United States Anti-Doping Agency and its practices, strongly implying that the agency practices favoritism when dealing with boxers. Evidence is provided to back up this assertion, which certainly doesn’t make for good press when you’re an organization which receives federal dollars, as USADA does.

Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao

The part of the lengthy article which is drawing the most attention, however, is the story of USADA collection agents finding evidence that Floyd Mayweather had received an IV injection shortly after the weigh in for his May superfight with Manny Pacquiao. USADA, which has been pushed by Floyd as an organization which guarantees fights involve drug free participants, was contracted to test both he and Manny in the leadup to their bout.

USADA decided to give Mayweather “a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE)” for the IV use. “The weigh-in and IV administration occurred on May 1,” Hauser writes. “The fight was on May 2. For 20 days after the IV was administered, USADA chose not to notify the Nevada State Athletic Commission about the procedure.”

And you were mad that Pacquio’s team didn’t inform people of that shoulder problem.

Mayweather’s medical team assured USADA that the substances injected into Floyd were legal and were merely used to rehydrate the man after the grueling process of prepping for the weigh in had been completed. Since no one really knows what went into Floyd, however, the man simply can’t be called a juicer off the cuff. What’s more, IV rehydration is not entirely uncommon, nor is it universally considered unethical (we’re talking about stuff like Vitamin C here).

The problem lies in the fact that the World Anti-Doping Agency, forbids fighters from getting as large of an injection as Mayweather did – unless it’s medically imperative – before a fight due to its ability to mask other substances. USADA, which is its own entity, decided to part to philosophical ways with WADA when it came to Mayweather-Pacquiao, however.

And then there’s the matter of USADA keeping the whole thing quiet.

The truth, however, is that USADA may at least legally find itself in the clear here. “Because of a loophole in its drug-testing contract,” Hauser writes, “USADA wasn’t obligated to notify the Nevada State Athletic Commission or Pacquiao camp regarding Mayweather’s IV until after the retroactive TUE was granted.”

So the law might have been technically obeyed. Maybe. Lance Pugmire made it clear in the LA Times that NSAC executive Bob Bennett is not at all happy with USADA. “USADA has historically been recognized as the world’s leading anti-doping authority,” Pugmire quotes Bennett as saying. “However, my experiences to date with them have been less than acceptable and less than professional.”

Furthermore, Pugmire reports the Commission is taking exception to a USADA spokesperson’s claim that Mayweather abided by the Commission’s rules, an assertion Mayweather himself back up an a statement released Thursday. “I follow, and have always followed, the rules of Nevada and USADA, the gold standard of drug testing,” Mayweather claimed.

Mayweather may indeed believe that, but Bennett disagrees. “I have specifically articulated and memorialized to USADA that [NSAC] is the sole authority that can authorize a therapeutic-use exemption for a fighter in the state of Nevada,” Pugmire quotes him as saying.

So, was USADA acting in an ethical and sportsmanlike manner? To be fair, USADA is striking back at Hauser at the moment, claiming he pretty much played dirty or is essentially clueless. USADA said “It is simply absurd to suggest that we would ever compromise our integrity for any sport or athlete”

“Although Mr. Mayweather’s application was not approved until after his fight with Mr. Pacquiao and all tests results were reported, Mr. Mayweather did disclose the infusion to USADA in advance of the IV being administered to him”

It’s also widely regarded among some that Hauser is no big fan of Mayweather…plus the man works for HBO, rival of Mayweather’s home network, Showtime.

Mayweather has also defended himself on Fight Hype. “A lot of time what happens is when you work you become dehydrated,” said Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather’s right hand man, in a Fight Hype video.

“And I’m a lot older now.” Mayweather adds.

Bennett might agree. Pugmire quotes him as saying Mayweather “has always been an advocate of drug testing and has set a fine example for all fighters.”


“As already confirmed by the USADA Statement, I did not commit any violations of the Nevada or USADA drug testing guidelines. I follow and have always followed the rules of Nevada and USADA, the gold standard of drug testing.

“Let’s not forget that I was the one six years ago who insisted on elevating the level of drug testing for all my fights. As a result, there is more drug testing and awareness of its importance in the sport of boxing today than ever before.

“I am very proud to be a clean athlete and will continue to champion the cause.”

Bob Arum comments to ESPN:

“USADA has a lot of explaining to do. “When we learned about this I was outraged. But I can’t just bay at the moon. What legal redress do we have? I have the information, our lawyers got it, but what were we supposed to do with it? Ask for the decision to be reversed? I really think people have to look closely at USADA and investigate what’s going on with them.”

“Our lawyers told us that the information tramsmitted to us was confidential and we were not allowed to disseminate it, so based on that advice we said nothing [until it came out],”

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