Big Baby Miller And The Question of Confidence
By: Sean Crose
I’ve spoken with Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller several times. He’s an interesting guy – one who is fascinating to talk to. Needless to say, I haven’t spoken to the man since he was popped for banned substances back in 2019. Now I hear he was popped for the same thing again, and that his July comeback fight has been canceled. There’s something about repeat offenders that fascinates us. It’s only natural, really. Why, we ask ourselves, do some people never learn their lesson? The offenders themselves might not even have an answer. The news of Miller getting busted for PED use again, however, has me thinking of other matters.
Miller, when we spoke, always struck me with his confidence. Unlike most of us, the guy was the picture of self assurance. He talked hard, worked hard, and fought hard. There seemed to be a lot of go to back up his show. Miller, in short, didn’t strike me as someone who questioned whether or not he could support the hype surrounding him with action. Clearly, though, the man wasn’t as confident as he appeared. It begs the question of whether or not he was confident at all, and if that famous swagger was all just a ruse.
It’s a strange thing, confidence. Everyone has it to some degree or other, but only a few among us can truly be referred to as confident with a capital C. None of us, for example, probably question whether or not we can make toast. We’ve done it before and will do it again. We don’t pause on the way to the kitchen to ask ourselves if we truly have what it takes to pull it off. We’re confident in our ability, and rightfully so. How many of us, however, have that same confidence when we make our way into a job interview? Not many of us, I’d be willing to bet. Lots of fighters, though, walk into a ring, sometimes before millions of viewers, looking like they have the same easy confidence the rest of us do going about everyday tasks.
They’re a rare breed, fighters, particularly boxers. Stepping in front of the public, boxers risk not only taking a world class beating, but also getting slowly humiliated by someone they absolutely, positively cannot effectively lay a glove on. In a very authentic sense, boxing truly is the roughest of sports. Confidence is required just to slip through the ropes. What exact kind of confidence does a fighter require, though? Muhammad Ali might offer some insight. For it was Ali who admitted to saying he was the greatest before he even knew he was. Add that to Mike Tyson’s honest comments on the nature of fear and we’re left with the idea that confidence is many times merely a mask to hide behind, or even an act of pretending to ourselves, rather than it is a genuine feeling.
In the case of Miller, and far too many others, confidence can prove to be a flimsy mask indeed.
Heavyweight Dillian Whyte Tests Positive for Dianabol Metabolites
By: Jesse Donathan
Not long after a full moon lit up the surrounding landscape here in the United States, the mass hysteria has once again returned to the combat sports community upon the news of yet another heavyweight testing positive for banned performance enhancing drug (PED) use. A habitual problem transcending sports, somehow the narrative is still perpetuated that the vast majority of athletes are clean and its only a few evil doers ruining the sport for everybody else. Yet, time and time again athletes repeatedly test positive on a near monthly basis for banned prohibited substances.
As of July 24, 2019, Boxingscene.com is reporting that an “A-sample” extracted from heavyweight boxer Dillian Whyte by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) prior to Whyte’s scheduled July 20th bout with Oscar Rivas resulted in a positive test for metabolites of the banned performance enhancing drug Dianabol. An anabolic steroid with androgenic effects, Dianabol is also known as “DBol” on the streets.
According to a July 25th, 2019 article titled, “Dillian Whyte tested positive for two metabolites of Dianabol,” author Thomas Hauser writes that, “The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) was advised by UKAD prior to Whyte-Rivas that Whyte had tested positive for epimethandienone and hydroxymethandienone. However, it allowed the fight to proceed as scheduled without notifying the Rivas Camp of the finding.” The report went on to note that Whyte’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, released the following statement:
“Further to reports, I can confirm that both Dillian Whyte and Oscar Rivas were subject to extensive VADA and UKAD testing for their bout. Both fighters were cleared to fight by both bodies and the BBBofC.”
Whyte, also known as the “Body Snatcher,” is an unusually candid pugilist, who famously quipped that the reason why former champion Anthony Joshua wasn’t feeling himself in the ring the night he lost to champion Andy Ruiz Jr. was because he was competing in the United States under stricter anti-doping testing procedures than that of the United Kingdom.
“It is because you’re in America with the VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency) testing and you’re not on the juice, that’s why,” said Whyte. Continuing, Dillian went on to insinuate that, “It’s harder to get therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) in American than the UK.”
Back in March, heavyweight Jarrell Miller infamously ran into problems with VADA himself according to an April 20, 2019 ESPN article titled, “Sources: ‘Big Baby’ Miller failed three drug tests,” by author Dan Raphael. Miller reportedly tested positive for the banned prohibited substances GW1516, EPO and human growth hormone (HGH) according to reports. Hearn, who famously had a lot to say to iFL TV following news of Miller’s flagged test results, appears less chatty at the moment as the curtain is pulled back revealing the inner workings of an inept system of governance in boxing.
News of Whyte’s positive test couldn’t have come at a worse time either, boxers Maxim Dadashev and Hugo Santillan both died earlier this week as a result of an accumulation of blows received inside the squared circle. A fact which may or may not exacerbate any consequences sure to come Whyte’s way from the very same people who turned a blind eye to his flagged test results to begin with, allowing him to step into the ring in the first place despite the fact they had advanced knowledge of his positive test results. Which is the real story here, the fight was allowed to continue despite the BBBC being notified by UKAD in conjunction with VADA that Whyte had flagged positive for performance enhancing drug use.
They had prior knowledge, yet unlike in the case of Jarrell Miller who was pulled by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) after his positive tests, astonishingly, the British boxing authorities allowed the fight to move forward as planned despite the flagged test results. In Millers wake, in stepped Andy Ruiz Jr. on short notice to face the seemingly unbeatable Anthony Joshua, and the rest is history as they say, as Ruiz Jr. shocked the world in route to upsetting the statue-esk British champion.
“Under rules in place in the United Kingdom, Whyte has a right of appeal,” writes Thomas Hauser in his July 24, 2019 Boxingscene.com article titled, “Dillian Whyte Tests Positive for Banned Substance.” According to the report, “UKAD takes the position that, until the adjudication process is over and due process is complete, there has not been a finding that a fighter is in breach of its PED protocols and no sanctions can be put in place by the British Boxing Board of Control.”
Meaning, as far as the BBBC and UKAD are concerned until Whyte has exhausted his appeals process the matter is still as of yet unresolved. Which for those paying attention means the BBBC and UKAD are allowing fighters using performance enhancing drugs to compete against presumably clean fighters despite any concerns about the safety of the fighters or sanctity of sport coming into the bout.
“Ruiz Jr has consistently pushed for the second fight (with Joshua) to be held in New York again and news of Whyte’s reported failed drug test has riled the Mexican,” writes Coral Barry in her July 25, 2019 Metro article titled, “Andy Ruiz Jr will refuse to rematch Anthony Joshua in the UK amid Dillian Whyte doping allegations.” And who can blame him? After Whyte’s positive test, Whyte’s allegations about Joshua receiving a TUE in the UK and the UK’s own insane PED policies Ruiz Jr. would be a mad man himself to step foot in the UK under these current conditions.
The United States is not without its own problems in the world of performance enhancing drug use and sanctioning bodies that look the other way, with both the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) having licensed UFC fighter Jon Jones to fight despite a-typical drug test results according to reports. Famed boxing trainer and ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas has called for a national commission to combat the perceived impropriety in professional boxing, though after Dillian Whyte’s latest run in with UKAD and BBBC maybe its time to start thinking internationally.
Performance Enhancing Drug Use in Boxing
By: Jesse Donathan
News broke late Tuesday evening, April 16, 2019 that heavyweight contender Jarrell Miller has tested positive for the banned substance GW1516, putting his June 1 Madison Square Garden showdown with heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in jeopardy according to a cbssports.com article by Jack Maloney titled “Report: Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller fails VADA test before heavyweight title fight vs. Anthony Joshua.”
According to an ESPN report, “Sources: Miller, set to face Joshua, fails drug test” columnist Dan Rafael writes that, “GW1516, also known as Cardarine and Endurobol, is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list and is classified as a metabolic modulator. An athlete might use it to assist in fat loss or use it as an endurance booster.”
The world of performance enhancing drug use is a familiar one to athletes virtually across the board in sporting competition. Whenever winning counts, there will be competitors looking for any and all advantages over their opponents. It’s an instinct inherent within the human experience, survival of the fittest, where only the strong survive. And as the old adage goes, if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.
Competition in sport harnesses that primal instinct to win, to survive, and manifests itself in a variety of forms of sport where society rewards the best with a nearly god like status while reserving all others as mere mortals in the presence of said greatness. Whoever that may be in your respective sport of choice, whether its Tiger Woods or the great Michael Jordan.
“In order to try to evade detection, athletes who continue to dope are having to resort to the use of a far more dangerous form of drug – the designer steroid,” writes Ray Kazlauskas in his September 17, 2009 link.springer.com abstract titled, “Designer Steroids.”
According to Kazlauskas, “These steroids are manufactured to closely resemble existing known compounds, but with sufficient chemical diversity to ensure that their detection by the WADA accredited laboratories is more difficult.”
As you may have already surmised, there are known illegal substances and unknown illegal substances. These designer steroids that are of unknown compositions are difficult to detect because the tests administered to athletes are designed to look for specific markers only. The world of anti-doping testing is constantly having to evolve their methodology and understanding of performance enhancing drugs in order to keep up with the evolution of science.
And just as there are illegal performance enhancing drugs, there are legal performance enhancing drugs as well.
Creatine being one of the more popular legal substances on the market today which is regularly used by athletes in order to increase muscle mass and improve athletic performance according to an NIH U.S. National Library of Medicine medlineplus.gov report.
Of course, what constitutes a legal and illegal substance depends very much on what set of rules you’re operating under, though there does seem to be some overlap with a variety of major anti-doping agencies.
“Of eight runners,” Spiegel asks Angel Heredia, former coach to Olympian Marion Jones while hypothetically discussing the 2008 Beijing Olympics, there “will be eight doped,” responds Heredia as Spiegel is obligated to then point out that he cannot actually prove it. “Its undoubtedly like that,” responds Heredia in a November 8, 2008 Spiegel online interview titled, “The Dealer Olympias.” What this should mean to every combat sports fan reading is that many if not all of the elite athletes in sports today are using performance enhancing drugs to one degree or another.
Mexican boxing phenom Canelo Alvarez famously tested positive for clenbuterol in 2018 ahead of his highly anticipated rematch with Gennady Golovkin. “Clenbuterol has shown up in drug tests for many Mexican athletes in recent years because of meat contamination in the country. Alvarez also said meat contamination caused his positive test,” writes ESPN reporter Dan Rafael in his March 6, 2018 ESPN.com article, “Canelo Alvarez’s camp blames suspect meat for positive clenbuterol test.”
Searching for more information, it turns out an August 27, 1995 NCBI U.S. National Library of Medicine abstract titled “Clenbuterol: a substitute for anabolic steroids” states that, “Clenbuterol is a recently popular drug used by athletes in many sports for its purported anabolic effects and reduction of subcutaneous fat. It is a beta-2 (beta 2) agonist prescribed overseas as a bronchodilator, but not approved for use in this country. It is on the banned substance list of the United States Olympic Committee.”
In a March 14, 2019 LA Times article titled “Victor Conte, of BALCO fame, has found a new home in boxing” author Dylan Hernandez writes “Only in what Conte described as the “red-light district of sport” can a convicted steroid distributor be part of a high-profile event and do so in full view of the public.
“I was banned everywhere else,” Conte said with a chuckle. Now a vocal advocate for year-round drug testing, the self-educated former BALCO mastermind helped lightweight champion Mikey Garcia move up to the heavier welterweight division for his showdown with hard-punching Errol Spence.”
According to Hernandez, “Conte, 68, spent four months in prison in 2005 for his role in the BALCO scandal, which tarnished the reputations of high-profile athletes such as Barry Bonds and Marion Jones.” Only a fool would think the Mikey Garcia camp went to Conte for anything but performance enhancing drug use. “We’re clean,” Garcia told the LA Times. The author would go on to state that, “Garcia and his trainer-brother have talked openly about their work with Conte, insisting they have nothing to hide.”
And they may very well not have anything to hide, if you follow the rule book and avoid banned, prohibited substances. However, that does not mean Conte isn’t riding on the cutting edge of science and technology, obviously his milkshakes are still bringing all the boys to yard. So, it is highly doubtful the Garcia camp is going to Conte for fish oil and creatine supplements.
Undoubtably, there are going to be those who decry that science has given us an endless bounty of performance enhancing substances to make athletes bigger, stronger and faster yet we are purposely suppressing this fountain of knowledge and entertainment to our own expense.
The cold, hard reality is that the fairy tale world of fairness, sportsmanship and a level playing field have joined forces with a multi-million-dollar regulation industry to ensure that a cat and mouse like game continues in order to keep the fines and penalties associated with prohibited banned substances rolling in.
Mixed martial arts referee “Big” John McCarthy famously said this is the hurt business. And in the hurt business people get hurt. The amount of damage and sacrifice these athletes make is incalculable, their lives and future very much at stake and on the line as they train to chase a dream that has customarily chewed up and spit out many greats before them.
Modern medicine and science exist to help these athletes perform to the best of their abilities, yet there is an entire industry developed to ensure these athletes do not take advantage of every possible opportunity to protect themselves in the ring, cage or field of play. And its justified under a false pretense that the rest of the field is clean, while it’s a select few bad guys ruining the sport for everyone else. Meanwhile, there is an entire industry profiting from a fairy tale, false belief perpetuated by those raking in the dough as a result of continued, sustained regulation.
Though I am not for or against the use of performance enhancing drugs in combat sports, believing it to be a deeply complicated subject and one without a clear right and wrong answer, I am absolutely in favor of a fair, level playing field. I do not however subscribe to the naïve paradigm espoused by most casual observers that the baseline truth is that the vast majority of elite athletes in professional combat sports today are clean. I simply do not believe that to be case and neither should you.
While there may be some outliers, naturally gifted athletes with the physical attributes and athletic ability to compete at an elite level without the aid of performance enhancing drugs the continued and sustained number of athletes regularly popping for banned, prohibited substances suggests the use of performance enhancing drugs is endemic within combat sports due to the very nature of the sports themselves and a new paradigm of regulation and enforcement is needed in order to adjust to the realities of combat sporting competition.
The naïve, fairy tale ramblings of those who seem to concern themselves with matters in which know very little about need to be recognized for what they are and filtered through the lens of common sense that suggest combat sports are an entirely different animal to non-contact sports. And the realities associated their participation need to be taken into account when dealing with how these athletes treat their bodies and live their lives. Its time for a new paradigm shift in how performance enhancing drugs are regulated in combat sports.
Performance Enhancing Drugs in Combat Sports- What is Going On?!
By: Greg Houghton
Is it just me, or is it starting to get really frustrating continuously hearing about yet another star in combat sports testing positive for performance enhancing drugs?
It seems that, sure as the wind blows, we repeatedly hear of yet another pro athlete in combat sports who has been banned for using performance enhancing drugs.
If you look across the top ranked athletes in combat sports (in fact- contact sports in general including American football and rugby), most of those who are dominating their sport in this day and age are genetic freaks of nature that tower over their competition. In boxing, out of our world champions in the heavyweight division we’ve currently got Joseph Parker as our smallest who stands at 6”4 and weighs in at around 245lbs.
Arguably at the top of the heavyweight tree we have Anthony Joshua, at just shy of 6”7 and who came into the Wladimir Klitschko fight north of 250lbs. Anyone who saw that fight will be fully aware that this was over 250lbs of pure muscle.
In turn, the power that AJ is able to generate through his freakish genetics is such that he was able to do what only three before him had done in stopping ‘Dr. Steel Hammer’, a man with a professional record spanning over twenty years.
Size seems to be a prevalent thing as todays combat sports divisions are filled with huge athletes, with the bigger guy seemingly almost always having the upper hand. This is not just in the heavyweight division, anyone who saw Saul ‘Canelo” Alvarez fight Amir Khan last year will have struggled to comprehend Canelo weighing less than 175 in that fight, despite meeting their 160lbs weight limit the day before. We all remember how catastrophically this fight ended for Khan, although I doubt very much that he does.
So, it seems that for the most part, size is an advantage when in competition in combat sports. As we’ve established, the majority of the dominant forces across almost all contact sports today are genetic monsters who have been conditioning their cardio skills throughout their entire lives with the bodies they were born with. One way in which athletes, who have not been blessed with such rare genetics, can at least try to compete at this level is with a little help, so to speak.
As the doping tests become more and more vigorous and difficult for athletes in combat sports (throwback to how irritated GGG was at the Kell Brook weigh in on September 9th 2016, after a reported 11 hour shift with VADA in his hotel room the day before), we are seeing more and more athletes getting caught out. The annoyances resound right the way across combat sports as in MMA we’ve recently seen Jon Jones getting banned for an astounding third time!
A third time?! How on earth has this been allowed to happen?
Is a ban of a few months really enough? Granted, I’m not a professor in sports science, but it’s difficult to see how an athlete who was able to push their body’s cardiovascular and hypertrophy capabilities beyond it’s genetic potential through taking drugs, would not have an advantage over another athlete who was natural, sometimes as soon as six months later. Is this morally right? Should athletes who were caught doping be allowed back into the sport at all? It certainly doesn’t seem to be the populist view, we only have to observe the reaction that Justin Gatlin received time on time when facing Usain Bolt in competition. This very competition was labeled a number of times as good vs. evil.
It was with a very heavy heart that I read of Shannon Briggs’ testosterone levels measuring absurd times over the normal limit earlier this year. In fact, by being such a fan of the transformation that he’s made in his life (you’ve only got to hear his story on the Joe Rogan show to appreciate this), as well as his tongue-in-cheek promotional strategies which in turn made idiots of his competition, I and many others felt personally let down by hearing this news. Shannon ‘The Cannon’ Briggs joins Alexander Povetkin, Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne as boxers from the heavyweight division alone, who have been banned for the use of PED’s in recent times.
Also as a huge fan of Jon Jones in the UFC, I… well, you know where this is going.
Evidence suggests that these days, the sports which we know and love, are seemingly dominated by the bigger guy. Therefore it stands to reason that this must affect the phycology of the fighter who faces them in the ring or the octagon. As these sports evolve, evidently so too does the genetic make up of those who reign within them. It’s easy to view performance-enhancing drugs as an attempted ‘leveling out’ of the genetic insufficiency, which many athletes today find themselves having. However, we must consider that if the shoe was on the other foot and todays naturally big athletes were the ones taking PED’s, the likes of Anthony Joshua would continue to develop their power beyond their genetic potential, lord knows to what effect.
And so, for the moment things will remain the same. Those who use performance enhancing drugs will continue to break the hearts of their loyal and adoring fans and be given as little as six months to go and think about what they’ve done, all the while training on the gains that PED’s could have initially given them. I’m not suggesting for a minute that these very athletes don’t work just as hard as those who are clean and don’t deserve to be where they are in their own sports. However, you have to feel for those who have grafted their whole lives without the use of performance enhancing drugs and have fallen slightly short because of this. If this is such a prevalent thing that combat sportsman must insist on defying their genetics, then perhaps it would be an idea to open a league of ‘natural’ boxers and MMA fighters, parallel to a league of those who insist on juicing.
The winners of the ‘not natural’ competitions could perhaps be part of a men’s support group, along with the ‘not natural’ bodybuilders of today and exchange ideas on how to inject safely. Either that or exchange ideas on safe Viagra consumption, in Jon Jones’ case…
Povetkin Hits a New Low in Moscow; In L.A., Hopkins Couldn’t Stay Away
Povetkin Hits a New Low in Moscow; In L.A., Hopkins Couldn’t Stay Away
By: Eric Lunger
It was a weekend of regret, as two bouts on different continents made a mockery of professional boxing. Karl Marx once observed that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. In Russia, Alexander Povetkin, by failing PED screening for a second time in less than a year, made a farce of whatever governing body sanctioned his heavyweight bout. And at the Forum in Los Angeles, veteran Bernard Hopkins was literally knocked out of the ring for the second time is his career, in what was supposed to be some sort of triumphant farewell/ retirement fight.
The Povetkin debacle was hard to fathom from the moment stories broke that he had failed another drug test. Seven months ago Povetkin was caught with meldonium in his veins, a now well-known PED employed systematically, it seems, by Russian athletes. There is something particularly vile about drug cheating in boxing: its one thing if the Russian bobsled team gets a faster start, and quite another thing when a heavyweight boxer has an unfair advantage. Boxing is dangerous enough as it is. Bermane Stiverne, Povetkin’s opponent, had worked very hard to position himself back in line for a WBC title shot, having lost a tough twelve rounder to Deontay Wilder in January of 2015. It also takes guts to enter the lion’s den by traveling to Moscow to face Povetkin in front of a home crowd, so imagine Bermane’s frustration and disgust when he awoke, on fight day no less, to the news that the WBC had withdrawn its sanction for the bout, which, by the way, is the only ray of light in this dark hole.
It appears that the WBC did the right thing immediately by withdrawing their sanction for the bout. Povetkin was on a voluntary random testing regime, a result of his previous violation under the WBC, which is trying to implement a rigorous anti-doping regime by partnering with VADA, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. Bizarrely, Povetkin was immediately provided with a replacement opponent, Johann Duhaupas of France, though no one knows why he was in Russia and available. It takes no giant leap of imagination to suppose that World of Boxing, the Russian promotion company that represents Povetkin, was holding Duhaupas in reserve for just such an eventuality. And to end the whole sordid story, Povetkin knocked out Duhaupas in the sixth round, with a vicious and presumably steroid enhanced left hook. Congratulations to a drug cheat.
The Hopkins vs. Smith fight was farce of a different nature, less malevolent but just sad. Sad to see a legend of the ring end his career on such an unnecessarily low note. After being dismantled and slightly embarrassed by Sergey Kovalev in November of 2014, Hopkins just couldn’t stay away. He had something to prove to himself, I suppose, because I can’t imagine anyone in the entire boxing world would have begrudged him his retirement at that point. So Saturday night, after needlessly disrespecting Joe Smith, Jr. at the prefight press conference, we were treated to the ridiculous executioner show, the silly hoods and fake axes, etc. I guess I’m just not a fan of the elaborate ring walk and masks and costumes. And the fight itself was hardly a fight, rather a boxing exhibition – and a bad one at that. Hopkins’s footwork was slow and ponderous, and the head butt in round two looked to me to be intentional, a dirty and unbecoming foul that was depressing to see from such a great champion. I don’t want to bash Hopkins, and I think I can understand how hard it must be for a proud, professional athlete to finally give up a sport that has defined his identity for so long, but when Smith bludgeoned him through the ropes and out of the ring, it felt as though boxing itself had ejected Hopkins from the sport. Only a man as competitive as Bernard Hopkins would argue that Smith pushed him through the ropes. But then, only a man as competitive as Bernard Hopkins would be prize fighting at age 51.
There were several good fights this weekend, and congratulations to Oleksandr Usyk, Joseph Diaz, Jr., and Sullivan Barrera, all of whom put on excellent shows and won technically fine bouts. But shame on Povetkin, and a sad farewell to Hopkins.
“Everybody’s on Steroids” – The Concerning State of MMA
“Everybody’s on Steroids” – The Concerning State of MMA
By Jaime C. Feal
During the hype for his first fight against Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz said it best: “Everybody’s on steroids.” Diaz went on to stop McGregor at UFC 196, and then McGregor was pulled from a potential rematch at UFC 200 due to not fulfilling media obligations. That decision by Zuffa brass turned out to be a big error, as their replacement main event between Jon “Bones” Jones and Daniel Cormier fell through when Jones was pulled from the card due to a positive test for PEDs. Cormier went on to beat last minute replacement Anderson Silva in a fight that saw the crowd boo heavily due to a lack of action. Furthermore, the Cormier-Silva fight was demoted to co-main event and a woman’s title fight between Miesha Tata and Amanda Nunes ended up headlining UFC 200. And the return of WWE superstar and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, the fighter that drew the most viewers, ended up testing positive himself as was revealed by USADA the week after UFC 200. Because of an exemption Lesnar received as a late addition to the card his results did not come back in time to stop him from competing, and he will not be fined by USADA or the UFC for his positive test. Lesnar’s opponent Mark Hunt has publicly demanded he be compensated and has blasted the UFC for “throwing him under the bus.”
To make matters worse, former Featherweight title contender Chad Mendes was popped for a positive test recently and suspended 2 years by USADA, just like Jones was suspended for 2 years. The fighters can appeal their suspensions and try to reduce them, but ultimately the UFC has an enormous problem on their hands with fighters using PEDs before competing against one another in the cage. The timing of the 4 billion dollar sale of the company amidst all the positive tests is also suspect. It could be said that Station Casino and Zuffa owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertita cashed out at the right time.
Not only are fighters getting suspended left and right, but other fighters who are theoretically clean are livid. Then you have superstar fighters like Georges St. Pierre who are prime for a comeback, but have expressed concerns about stepping in the cage against juiced competition. Finally, the fans can’t be happy to see their favorite fighter(s) and sport being tainted by steroids, masking agents, and PEDs. The crisis is similar to the steroid epidemic in the 90s in Major League Baseball where even the biggest superstars were using. Now that the UFC is under new ownership, the new owners and management have a chance to affect immediate change. The sport is inherently exciting, fast-paced, and action-packed. We don’t need to artificially increase the explosiveness of the sport as baseball did with the home run. When you have two athletes competing against each other in a combat sport fairness and safety are of the utmost concern. MMA as a sport has worked hard to become regulated and accepted, and a lot of that work can be undone if somebody is seriously hurt in the cage by an opponent who tests positive for PEDs. This epidemic needs to get cleaned up quickly in the interest of all parties. Let’s hope it does.
Truth Or Slander? The Tyson Fury Drug Test Scandal
Truth Or Slander? The Tyson Fury Drug Test Scandal
By: Sean Crose
“The world heavyweight champ is being probed by officials after traces of a banned anabolic steroid were allegedly discovered in a sample taken last year.”
These words appeared in Britain’s “Mirror” on Sunday. Since then, a scandal has erupted surrounding heavyweight champ Tyson Fury. In brief, it’s been claimed that Fury tested positive for having forbidden levels of a banned substance called nandrolone in his system during the winter of 2015. Nandrolone, for those who don’t know (and why would most people?) is a steroid which can enlarge muscle. Therefore, it’s easy to see why having significant amounts of the drug in one’s system would be deemed unsportsmanlike.
Yet it’s only fair to point out that rumors do not automatically equal truth and that Fury had adamantly denied being a doper. Sure enough, he’s come across as being a bit confused by this whole matter. Indeed, the thought of Fury as juicer comes across as somewhat absurd on the surface of things. For even at his most fit, the guy certainly doesn’t possess an Adonis-like physique. Regardless, appearances can be as deceiving as false rumors and no one, save perhaps a few, know what the truth really is at the moment.
For its own part, the team of one Wladimir Klitschko, who Fury won the heavyweight crown from after the reported test was taken, is being proactive, demanding the United Kingdom Anti Doping agency – otherwise known as UKAD – get to the bottom of things. Sure enough, Klitschko’s manager has already taken a shot at the agency, claiming it’s failed in its duties before. With that in mind, UKAD has refused to comment on the matter, as it claims is part of its policy as regards to privacy.
There is some urgency to the whole situation, of course, as Fury will most likely rematch Klitschko in the fall. Indeed, the two men were supposed to fight this summer, but the Englishman harmed his ankle while in training and the fight had to be postponed. Not only is the rematch anticipated because it will solidify the heavyweight pecking order, it’s being looked forward to because Fury and Klitschko are such polar opposites.
Klitschko, the former long reigning champion from the Ukraine, has always been known as something of a gentleman warrior. Fury, on the other hand, luxuriates, it seems, in being openly controversial. He’s received a lot of heat back home in England for his comments, and has even been reported for a hate crime due to his language (England just isn’t into the whole free speech thing – then again, it still has a queen). He’s also a world class bully when it comes to Klitschko, egging him on as if he were tormenting an underclassman in a school cafeteria.
Whether or not the man juiced, however, remains to be seen.
Performance Enhancing Drugs and Boxing
Performance Enhancing Drugs and Boxing
By: Matthew N. Becher
Performance enhancing drugs have been a problem in the sports world for a while now, but when it comes to the sport of boxing, it takes on a whole new level. In the end, if an athlete is taking a banned substance and hits a few more home runs or rides a bicycle faster than their opponent it is sad that an individual felt they needed to cheat, but in boxing the outcome could mean life or death. A fighter is already putting their life on the line when entering the ring, with the added incentive of a steroid being used by your opponent, the outcome could be catastrophic. In the past few months at least 3 major fighters have tested positive for banned substances. All have had different outcomes with their appeals and fights. Why does boxing not have an overall rule and punishment on the use of these drugs?
In March of this Year, Lucas Browne of Australia defeated Ruslan Chagaev in a Heavyweight fight that took place in Grozny, Russia. Browne won by 10th round knockout and later tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol, which is used to boost metabolism and lose weight. Browne, claimed he was drugged while in Russia, unknowingly. Browne did get drug tested prior to the fight, in his native Australia, and came up clean. This week his “B” samples came back positive as well, and the result of his fight will be overturned to a No Contest. He has also been stripped of his WBA “regular” heavyweight championship title and will be suspended by the WBA for six months (this really means nothing, since he can fight under any other sanctioning body and anywhere in the world, since Boxing does not have one almighty governing regulatory system).
Francisco Vargas is the undefeated WBC Super Featherweight champion of the world, and is currently getting ready for his highly anticipated showdown with fellow brawling Mexican Orlando Salido. In late April, Vargas, also tested positive for Clenbuterol. He tested positive while both fighters were under the VADA program (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency), and Vargas claims that he is innocent. His excuse was that he must have gotten the drug in his system while eating contaminated meat in his native Mexico (an excuse that fellow Mexican fighter Erik Morales used in 2012.) Wildly enough, the fight is still scheduled to go on as planned. Salido did not question the result, and does not see it as being a problem. Since the California state commission did not perform the test, instead being tested by another party, in VADA, the commission cannot rule in Vargas’ fate. The fight will go on as planned, and we will see what happens after June 4th.
Finally, the fight for the WBC heavyweight championship of the world, which was to take place in Moscow, Russia between the champion Deontay Wilder and Alexander Povetkin has been cancelled. Povetkin has tested positive for the steroid Meldonium. Wilder was weary of going to Russia only for the fear of being drugged, as Lucas Browne has claimed, but instead it was the Russian who came up positive in his own Country. The WBC has not banned Povetkin, who denies knowingly taking the substance, and will start its own investigation into the matter.
The differences here are all similar with small changes. Browne did not test positive until after the fight. He was paid in full, won and went home. After the fact, his victory was overturned, he was stripped of his “regular” title and banned by the WBA (again, he can still fight, just not under any WBA sanctioned events). Vargas and Salido are still going to fight. The fact is, if a fighter does not fight, he does not get paid, which leaves the innocent Salido in a predicament. He has put in the work, hired the trainers and members of his team. If he does not fight Vargas, even though Vargas came up positive for a steroid, neither man will get paid, and that’s a lot of time and money to lose out on. Wilder, the heavyweight champion, seemed to make the easy decision and leave. For him, the money did not matter, since his wellbeing would be at an even greater risk, fighting a professional heavyweight in their own backyard. Wilder will not receive his multimillion dollar payday, but it will not be hard to find another fight to take this one’s place.
On another note, late last year, during the Klitschko vs. Fury heavyweight championship fight that took place in Germany, Fury refused to drink or eat anything until he was out of the country entirely. Germany is Klitschko’s second home and Fury was very fearful of any of his post-fight meals or drinks to be contaminated and being wrongfully accused of cheating and his upset victory being overturned. People saw Fury as being a bit of a “wacko” for even thinking that, but now looking back at the Lucas Browne story, Fury might have been really onto something.
In the end, penalties have to be put in place universally for fighters that test positive for banned substances. Too much is at risk for steroids in this sport. Not only should boxers have to serve lengthy suspensions and fines that will deter anyone else from taking the chance of using these drugs, but the fighters on the other end who did absolutely nothing wrong should be able to get compensation for the monetary losses that they endure. Remember this isn’t a man trying to run or swim faster than another man. This is boxing, where any punch can end your life. It’s not a joking matter when it comes to steroids in the sport.