By Sean Crose
After what was undoubtedly a very long week, the United States Anti-Doping Agency thoroughly responded to Thomas Hauser’s article for SB Nation, “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” on September 17th. Hauser’s piece, which has sent shock waves throughout the fight world, paints USADA as a largely inefficient, and perhaps even corrupt, organization. It also states that USADA collection agents came upon evidence of Floyd Mayweather receiving an IV injection after the weigh in for his fight with Manny Pacquiao on May 1st – in clear violation of conventional drug testing protocol – but conveniently granted Mayweather a therapeutic use exemption (Tue) AFTER the Pacquiao fight had gone into the record books.
USADA, however, has fired back hard in a 25 page document. For instance, the agency writes that it “does not conduct ‘random’ testing,” a fact which, if true, contradicts Hauser’s article which claims that USADA agents “went to Mayweather’s Las Vegas home to conduct a random unannounced drug test.” What’s more, USADA insists that Mayweather received the injection “in the presence of the USADA…who was made aware of the need for the IV due to Mr. Mayweather’s physical condition and who continued to monitor Mr. Mayweather throughout the administration of the IV by the paramedic and thereafter until a full sample was collected from Mr. Mayweather.”
Whether or not this assertion by USADA will help it win the PR battle here is iffy. The agency still makes it clear, after all, that it was perfectly okay with Mayweather receiving an IV injection, something that won’t sit well with fans, no matter what the reasons and small details surrounding that specific situation were.
Yet USADA goes further by stating “Mr. Mayweather provided partial urine samples to USADA both prior to and following the infusion. The urine provided by Mr. Mayweather on May 1, 2015, was subsequently tested and has been reported by the World Anti-Doping Agency accredited laboratory as negative.” What a partial urine sample is escapes this author. A negative test result from WADA, however, may help USADA’s cause in the court of public opinion, albeit perhaps slightly.
Where USADA strikes powerfully and effectively in the document is when it brings up Victor Conte, a former felon who Hauser employs prominently in his article. When a convicted felon is used to weigh in on the very subject – in this case, PEDs – he was convicted for, eyebrows are going to naturally be raised. “Mr. Hauser,” USADA notes, “fails to mention that USADA was involved in the BALCO case which ended with more than 25 people involved with the doping schemes of Mr. Conte and his co-conspirators being held accountable for their actions.”
With that in mind, much of USADA’s document still comes across as cherry picking. For instance, USADA calls Hauser to the mat for reportedly giving an incorrect amount when stating the sum of money the agency receives from the United States’ government. In truth, the essence of USADA’s document concerning the Mayweather IV matter can be found in the following quote:
“There was no need for Mr. Mayweather to apply to NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) for a TUE for the use of IVs.”
While that certainly may be true, such a statement will not be enough to sway public opinion. Simply put, the public does not want boxers receiving more than 50 milliliters of fluid through an IV tube unless it’s imperative for the athlete to be injected for his (or her) immediate well-being. Yet USADA simply isn’t going to let anyone know why Mayweather was injected that day last spring.
“TUE applications,” USADA states in the document, “are treated as confidential information and are not to be disclosed beyond the extent necessary to process the application.”
Indeed, much of the document appears to be legal hair splitting. For instance, Hauser writes in his article that “CIR testing has been not been fully utilized for Floyd Mayweather’s fights.” To which USADA responds that “CIR as well as the athlete biological passport have been used extensively for Mayweather fights.” When an argument descends to the word “fully” going head to head with the word “extensively,” things have reached a shady terrain indeed.
Still not drowning in legalese? Try this on for size. Hauser quotes NSAC honcho Bob Bennett as saying of USADA: “they don’t give us the full test results.” And how does USADA defend itself? In part by stating “USADA has no objection in principle to providing State Athletic Commissions access to test results if used appropriately under the WADA ISPPPI and only for legitimate anti-doping purposes.” On principle? Gee, thanks USADA.
There are, of course, notable points and statements made by USADA in the document which are worthy of serious consideration. For example, aside from the issue of Conte, the document addresses a specific quote from Hauser’s article that states “USADA often declines to administer CIR testing on grounds that it’s unnecessary and too expensive.” USADA smartly retorts in its document that it “performs extensive CIR testing as part of the professional boxing testing programs it conducts and has never declined to administer CIR testing.” What’s more, USADA clearly states that “All 22 urine samples collected during the Mayweather/Pacquiao testing program were tested by CIR and for EPO.”
Another matter addressed by USADA pertains to Hauser’s presentation of the agencies’ dealings with Eric Morales, who ultimately failed tests taken around the time of his fight with Danny Garcia. Hauser writes that “The moment that the ‘B’ sample from Morales’ first test came back positive, standard testing protocol dictated that this information be forwarded to the New York State Athletic Commission. But neither USADA nor Richard Schaefer did so in a timely manner.”
Yet USADA clearly responds that “Contrary to Mr. Hauser’s false claim, USADA did not wait until the B sample result was reported by the laboratory before informing the NYSAC of Mr. Morales’ positive test. Rather, USADA informed the NYSAC of Mr. Morales’ positive test after the laboratory reported the results of the A sample, which is earlier in the process than when Mr. Hauser now states USADA should have notified the NYSAC.”
Make no mistake about it, Hauser might want to do some answering himself now. While the man’s reputation and article clearly haven’t been discredited by USADA’s epic retort, some nagging questions are now present and in need of addressing. In short, people may wonder if the article could have used a bit more fact checking. If Hauser can clear all matters up, he’d be well advised to do so, and quickly.
Needless to say, though, the man isn’t exactly taking this latest development lying down. In fact, he’s already released a statement on his own where he states his desire to “write another longform article on this subject.”
Whose right and whose wrong here is, frankly, impossible to tell at this point. A person doesn’t have to be David Duchovny, however, to realize “the truth is out there,” and that sooner or later, it will most likely rise to the surface.