Leonard Ellerbe, an adviser to THE RING’s No. 2-rated pound-for-pound fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr., and former BALCO founder Victor Conte have responded critically to the presence of Angel Hernandez as the new strength and conditioning coach for RING lightweight champ Juan Manuel Marquez.
Widely suspected to have a past history of being involved in performance-enhancing activities, Hernandez has been hired by Marquez (53-5-1, 39 KOs) to assist with the fighter’s preparation for his third bout with Manny Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38 KOs) on Nov. 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Identified as Angel Hernandez during Episode 2 of HBO’s 24/7 series, Hernandez, 36, is really Angel Heredia, according to Conte. According to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation in May of 2008, Heredia testified in a San Francisco Court that he supplied former track stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery with illegal substances,
In the report, Heredia admitted to giving the blood-booster EPO, growth hormone and insulin to Jones in 2000 at the request of her then-coach Trevor Graham, who was on trial. Heredia also sold banned substances to Montgomery.
Having competed for Jamaica at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Graham sparked the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO) in 2003.
“This Heredia story is certainly no surprise to me. He was the government’s star witness in BALCO doping cases against track stars, including Marion Jones. Angel was at the top of the food chain in the drug distribution case against Jones’ coach, Trevor Graham,” Conte wrote to RingTV.com in an e-mail.
“The feds rolled him over on everybody involved in the case, including several world champions and Olympic medalists. Bottom line. We both know people from the dark side of the sport, and I’m certainly suspicious of current activities.”
Conte, himself, served a prison stint for his work with illegal performance-enhancing drugs in numerous professional sports, and built a four-year career out of helping athletes to circumvent Olympic-style drug testing policies until BALCO was raided in 2003.
Since exiting prison, however, he claims to have gone legit. Since 1988, Conte has run SNAC, an acronym for Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning, which is an organization that supplies legal sports nutrition products and supplements.
“I also understand that many may feel the same way about me. However, there is a simple and basic difference. I chose to accept full responsibility for my very serious mistakes. I also chose not to cooperate in the prosecution of any others involved and I served my time in prison,” said Conte.
“[Heredia] made a different choice. He decided to become a puppet for famed BALCO investigator Jeff Novitzky and provide extensive evidence and testimony against a long list of his athlete clients. But, who knows? Maybe this Heredia Marquez story will end up being helpful in bringing more attention to boxing’s serious need for effective drug testing.”
Prior to his past two victories over Shane Mosley and Victor Ortiz in May of last year and in September, Mayweather required that his opponents undergo Olympic-style random drug testing of urine and blood that was conducted by United States Anti-Doping Agency.
The Mayweather-Mosley clash was the first time the Olympic-style testing had been administered in boxing.
“All that I will say is that this is just another example of why Floyd Mayweahter has taken the stand that he has taken on the notion of random blood and urine testing. I mean, this is exactly why,” said Ellerbe.
“Any opponent that Floyd faces in the ring must, like Floyd himself, be subjected to random drug testing of their blood and urine.”
Meanwhile, Pacquiao’s has an ongoing lawsuit against Mayweather accusing him of defamation, asserting that the fighter has continued to insinuate publicly that Pacquiao’s success over eight weight classes is the result of having used performance-enhancing drugs.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org