A new organization headed by former ringside doctor Margaret Goodman will administer random drug testing for the Showtime-televised rematch between welterweights Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto on Feb. 11 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Lou DiBella, promoter for Berto (28-1, 22 knockouts), first announced last week that a new organization would be doing its inaugural testing for Berto’s return bout with Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs), although DiBella did not name the group at the time.
DiBella said that the random drug testing would follow the same protocols as the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
“There’s an initiative being done by [former Nevada State Athletic Commission ringside physicians] Margaret Goodman and Flip Homansky and some others that made this more affordable and done in the same exact way, so we’re exploring that,” said DiBella.
“And assuming that it’s what we believe that it is, we’ll being doing it with that group because it’s affordable, and it also makes a statement to future meaningful fights that it’s now affordable and can be done in a cost-effective manner and there’s really no economic impediment to doing it.”
WBC welterweight beltholder Floyd Mayweather Jr. was the first boxer to mandate random drug testing of blood and urine for his past two victories over Shane Mosley and Ortiz. Mayweather scored a unanimous-decision victory over Mosley last May, and a fourth-round stoppage that dethroned Ortiz as WBC beltholder in September.
The 28-year-old Berto took Jan Zaveck‘s IBF title by fifth-round knockout in September, the first stoppage of Zaveck’s career. The victory helped Berto to rebound from losing his WBC belt to the 24-year-old Ortiz in April, a unanimous decision during which the winner was dropped in the second and sixth rounds, and Berto was floored in the first and sixth.
Against Ortiz, Berto complained of a lack of stamina, and was hospitalized with dehydration afterward. Berto credited a new relationship with controversial BALCO founder Victor Conte for re-energizing his workouts in prepraration for Zaveck. After examining Berto’s blood samples, Conte found that the fighter to be overtrained and severely anemic.
The presence of Conte, however, aroused suspicion in the camp of Ortiz, whose manager, Rolando Arellano, told RingTV.com that he will “demand Olympic-style drug testing” before a deal is reached.
Now, it appears that Arellano’s wishes will be realized, as will those of the Berto camp.
“It would be the same protocol as USADA, with complete medical professionals handling it. We’re working on those details now, and there were no issues with it. We wanted it, Ortiz had no problem with it, [Ortiz's promoter] Golden Boy had no problem with it, and so it’s not an issue,” said DiBella.
“It’s very expensive if you do it with USADA, but it’s a fraction of that if we do it through this initiative that Margaret and Flip are proposing. We haven’t done a deal yet as to which officials will actually do the testing, but the testing will be Olympic style. It will be USADA testing. It will be testing of blood and urine. I feel that we need it across the board. I think that it should happen, period.”
CONTE SUPPORTS VADA
Conte 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, Conte says he has become 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.
Conte became aligned with Berto at the suggestion of RING No. 4-rated pound-for-pound WBO/WBC bantamweight titleholder Nonito Donaire, the first boxer Conte began to work with.
Conte gained in popularity and credibility in the sport off of his association with Donaire, and, more recently, with Zab Judah prior to his fifth-round stoppage loss to WBA and IBF junior welterweight beltholder Amir Khan in July.
Conte has become an advocate for targeting dirty athletes in overall sports in general, and, within boxing, in particular, and he believes that VADA is a good way to start.
“Because of difficult lessons I’ve learned from personal consequences, I’ve been a strong sports anti-doping advocate for more than 5 years now. I did an interview with Dr. Margaret Goodman about 18 months ago regarding the rampant use of drugs in combat sports. This is when we first discussed the idea of a voluntary anti-doping program such as VADA. I’ve been an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of this groundbreaking concept from the beginning,” said Conte.
“I do my best to educate athletes, trainers an all others involved in sport regarding the disastrous consequences that can result from the use performance enhancing drugs. I like that VADA is an athlete driven program based upon voluntary participation. I will continue to encourage, support and endorse the VADA program and all athletes participating in sport without the use of drugs.”
Photo by Phil McCarten, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org