“At the present time, I cannot explain the positive drug test, which was provided as part of a voluntary anti-doping program in which I agreed to participate. I know that I have never used any steroids or other banned substances, and I am investigating all possible causes of the positive test with my attorney Howard Jacobs. I have never cheated, and all of my success has come from hard work and dedication.” Former welterweight beltholder Andre Berto
“I’m just hoping that people give me a chance to prove my innocence. At the end of the day, I didn’t cheat and I’m going to stand by that. I’m not a cheating person. Anybody who really knows me knows that, and that I would never cheat. No matter how much money was on the line or whatever was on the line, I’m not going to cheat. That’s not me.” IBF and WBA junior welterweight beltholder Lamont Peterson.
Within the past two weeks IBF and WBA junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson and former WBC and IBF welterweight beltholder Andre Berto each tested positive for banned substances as a result of the strict, random drug testing guidlines of the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
Peterson’s test for testosterone in March led to the cancelation of his May 19 rematch with Amir Khan. Berto’s, positive for traces of the banned substance norandrosterone took him out of a June 23 rematch with Victor Ortiz, who will, instead, face replacement Josesito Lopez .
In each case, it was Peterson and Berto who requested the random testing of blood and urine by VADA, which is run by president and founder Margaret Goodman.
RingTV.com contacted 11 boxing insiders – one fighter as well as trainers, managerrs and promoters — to poll their opinions on Peterson and Berto, the cancelled fights, VADA, and the sport’s challenge of properly screening its participants for performance-enhancing drugs.
Given the results, do you believe that boxing will and should continue to use VADA? Will VADA help or hurt the sport? Will boxers and promoters be more or less inclined to use VADA?
Rolando Arelano, Victor Ortiz’s manager:
“You’re going to make money if not on this fight, then, another fight. But you’re not going to make s__ if you do not protect your fighter. Without the fighter, there is no manager, no trainer, no promoter and no boxing content. That means no pay checks for any of us. So, absolutely, we would do it all over again because the fighter’s safety is first. so to me, it’s worth having the testing no matter what the end result of that testing is.”
“People are immediately saying that Lamont Peterson is a cheater, and that Andre Berto is a cheater, but I’m not so sure. You can’t condemn, you can’t praise, you can’t do anything unless you have all of the facts here. You don’t have the facts. You don’t have the facts regarding Lamont Peterson.
“Let me give you the Peterson situation. You’ve got one situation where the kid has a medical problem and he goes to a licensed doctor. And the kid asks him if he’s going to give him anything that’s going to hurt his boxing career as far as drugs and so forth.’
“And the doctor assures him, ‘no.’ The doctor said, allegedly, that there is nothing in the medication as far as steroids, etc., and the kid takes it, and he’s busted for steroids. I know that there is a doctrine that you’re responsible for everything that you put into your body, but what happens if you go to a store and you buy a lollipop, and it looks like every other lolipop, and the lollipop is laced with steroids?
“Are you guilty of anything? I mean, there has got to be some rationale and proportionality to this. In a situation where the doctor says that there’s no steroids, and that you’re taking it for your health, I don’t think that the athlete should be penalized. Now, in Andre Berto’s case, I don’t know what the facts are.
“If the facts are that he took some substances that were contaminated, then, first of all, I don’t know what that means. What is that? I don’t know what that means, and I don’t know what Victor Conte is saying, that he didn’t prescribe it, and that it was the wrong thing. I don’t know the situation.
“But again, if he takes a vitamin pill that he buys at a legitimate store and that vitamin is tainted, then is the athlete really responsible? This is craziness. If fighter A is fighting fighter B, and I for some reason have a vendetta against the promoter, and so I get some chef in the kitchen to do something with the kid’s food, and the kid gets tested and gets disqualified, what the hell are we doing here?
“It’s not like a team sport or like the Olympics where you can be a little harsh because the guy isn’t allowed to compete, but the Olympics goes on. From what I understand, Amir Khan wasn’t in jeopardy for what Peterson tested for, and Victor Ortiz wasn’t in jeopardy for what Berto tested for. So why not fine Peterson and Berto and let the show go on? Not ‘Boom!’ the event’s off. What about the fans? That’s the compelling nature. What if they’ve made reservations, they’ve paid for airfare?”
Kevin Cunningham, Devon Alexander’s trainer:
Lou DiBella, Andre Berto’s promoter:
“But there’s never been a promoter who has been more for mandatory drug testing than I have. That’s fact. That being said, what we have to protect against is guys who are really using performance enhancers and not some miniscule amount of some steroid that is accidentally in a nasal decongestant or something else.
“What we have to prevent is true, performance enhancement that endangers the fighter. But again, I don’t know what happened with Berto, and I’m not going to reach any conclusions, because I don’t know. It’s ironic that Berto got caught when he was the one who asked for it.
“So I reserve judgement in terms of VADA and drug testing. But as I’ve said, I have been on record for years as saying in the past that we need mandatory drug testing, and I am known as being the biggest advocate for drug testing. I think that some promoters will be much less inclined to use VADA, but I’m reserving judgement.”
Danny Garcia, Ortiz’s trainer:
“That’s a good way to clean up the sport. If not for them, a lot of fighters can use drugs. I think it’s a good idea to stay with them. If it was up to me, I would say keep on using (VADA). That way, the people know that you’re fighting clean.”
Robert Garcia, trainer of Nonito Donaire, Brandon Rios, Kelly Pavlik, Mikey Garcia.
“But if we look at the other side, it’s actually something where we’re missing great fights. I think that we should continue our relationship with VADA. As you can see, it can clean up the sport. It’s hurt two big fights, of course, but we don’t want to go in not knowing whether or not someone is taking something illegal.”
“I honestly think, though, that when it comes to promoters, they’re not going to want to be using VADA because it hurt two of Golden Boy’s last two shows and I’m sure that, from the standpoint of HBO or Showtime, it can hurt the promotion. Promoters, I’m sure, are not going to be too sure about having them involved.”
Dan Goossen, Andre Ward’s promoter:
“You’ve got to do it for the ultimate benefit of your own fighter. Forget benefit, but protection of your own fighter. It’s true. If we turn a blind eye to someone illegally using a banned substance, then we’re in essence turning a blind eye to our fighter, and it’s a hard enough sport for them to prepare for in the gym weeks in advance. Then, to put them into the ring against someone who might have an unfair advantage is not right.”
Vaughan Jackson, Mike Jones trainer:
“I know my fighter and I know that he’s clean. People will do anything to try to win a title nowadays. But I know that Mike is clean, so absolutely, I would be willing to use VADA. I don’t care who does the testing. I would love to take the test because I wouldn’t want my fighter to face a dirty fighter. I think that the boxing associations should make it mandatory to take these tests.”
“You know, it’s not like we’re playing basketball. We’re fighting. So, I most definitely would push for the Olympic style drug testing. Now, I think that everybody sees what Floyd Mayweather was talking about. Even at the cost of a pay day, it’s definitely worth it 100 percent.
“If a guy is there fighting dirty, that’s bad for the sport. You could end up with a tragedy on your part when you’re in that ring. In fact, I asked for it when I heard about all of this but it was too late for my fight with Randall Bailey once I heard about the Lamont Peterson and the Andre Berto situations. I asked if I could get a drug test for the Randall Bailey fight. I’m more than willing because I know that I’m clean.
“I’m a clean fighter, so anything that you want to test me for, I’m game. All that I’m taking is fruits and vegetables. so come on and test me. I don’t need no testosterone, no steroids, no nothing. I’m just going in there and I’m banging.”
Russell Peltz, hall-of-fame promoter, who co-promotes Jones with Top Rank:
“I think that Olympic drug testing is wacky enough, and now, you’re talking about a system that’s even stricter than that? What about football players? Do they get tested the day of the game or the week of the game? I think that boxing is better regulated drug-wise than most major sports.
“Guys have had fights and decisions overturned because they’re taking marijuana, which certainly isn’t going to improve you as a fighter. I really don’t know enough about VADA, and I really don’t think that the boxing commissions know enough about it. I’m just so tired of boxing getting picked on. I would love to see VADA in the NFL. I would love to see it in the NBA, and I would love to see it in Major League Baseball. I would be after a lot of the athletes in other sports, especially football.
“I doubt that they could even pass the routine exams that fighters get at the weigh-in. I really doubt that they could. Right now, I would have to say no to VADA, because we really don’t know enough about it. If it’s a voluntary program, I don’t know why people are volunteering for it. But until we know more about it, I would say let’s go with what the commissions have been doing over the years.”
Henry Ramirez, trainer of Chris Arreola
“It’s a damn shame if someone is taking over the counter stuff and you get caught and that costs you a fight because you test dirty on it. I just think that maybe guys need to be a little more knowledgeable about what they’re taking and do a better job of background checking as far as who they’re hiring as far as strength and conditioning coaches.
“People need to be more educated. Each of my fighters uses different strength and conditioning coaches, and I tell them, ‘look, if he advises you to use something, you need to call the commission and see what’s allowable and what’s not.’
“It would be great if there was one uniform set of standards for what is allowable and what isn’t. So I think that people will be more inclined to use VADA, given that two guys tested dirty in two major rematches here. Who’s next? That’s the next question. Who is next?”
Photo by Phil McCarten, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org