On Wednesday, WBO/IBF junior featherweight titleholder Nonito Donaire officially began his commitment to year-round, random drug testing that is being conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
Soon after the procedure was completed, Donaire (29-1, 18 knockouts) notified his fans of the results on his Twitter account.
“(Just) got randomly blood tested by VADA,” wrote Donaire. “They went 2 the gym first (and) since I wasnt there, they came knocking at my hotel.”
Believed to be unprecedented in professional sports anywhere, the move by Donaire was initially announced in June during the wake of consecutive positive drug tests for banned substances by then-IBF and WBA junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson and former two-time welterweight beltholder Andre Berto.
Peterson’s positive test for testosterone in March led to the cancelation of his rematch in May with Amir Khan. Berto’s positive result for the banned substance norandrosterone in May did the same for his scheduled rematch with Victor Ortiz.
In June, former light heavyweight titleholder Antonio Tarver, a Showtime boxing commentator, tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid drostanolone stemming from the result of a test administered by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) after Tarver’s draw with Lateef Kayode on June 2 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
Unlike Tarver, Peterson and Berto had pushed for contracts which required them to have their testing conducted by VADA.
Peterson has retained his status as IBF beltholder, and been declared the WBA’s “champion in recess,” while Berto has been licensed to fight by the CSAC after having tested negative for anabolic steroids and masking agents by the organization.
Tarver is serving a one-year suspension for his infraction pending an appeal hearing on Oct. 8 with the CSAC, and was fined $2,500 of the $1.1 million purse he earned for facing Kayode.
Donaire works with former BALCO founder Victor Conte, who also served in a similar capacity with Berto. Berto has since admitted that his positive test was the result of an association with someone other than Conte.
Donaire was among the first boxers to work with Conte, who once served a prison stint for his work with illegal performance-enhancing drugs, building a four-year career out of helping professional athletes circumvent Olympic-style drug testing policies until BALCO was raided in 2003.
But since exiting prison, Conte has busied himself with Scientific Nutrition for Advanced Conditioning (SNAC), an organization that supplies legal sports nutrition products and supplements.
Donaire is heading into an HBO-televised clash with Japanese veteran Toshiaki Nishioka (39-4-3, 24 KOs) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Oct. 13, with former lightweight beltholder Brandon Rios making his junior welterweight debut against Mike Alvarado on the undercard.
Donaire said that participation in random drug testing is encouraged but not mandatory for his opponents, who can be sponsored through VADA and private donors in relation to the the agreement.
Still, Donaire told RingTV.com during this Q&A that he will likely encourage Nishioka to join him in being tested, this, when they meet at a promotional press conference that is scheduled for Monday at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.
Fighters can obtain information concerning drugs from The Resource Exchange Center.
RingTV.com: Can you give a more expanded version of what transpired during the drug testing procedure, much as you did in your Tweet?
Nonito Donaire: You are kind of aware that it’s coming, but, the next thing you know, a month has passed. So, you know, it’s random. Sometimes, it’s in the back of your head that it’s coming, but you don’t always think bout that stuff.
I don’t worry about it, but it’s the fact that they’re going to maybe show up here or there. It’s always in the back of your mind. But when they showed up at the gym, and I wasn’t at the gym, they were told that I was at my hotel room.
So they asked [business officer] Gilbert [Martinez,] or [his wife] Rachel [Donaire] where I was. So they came to my hotel room and they got the test and everything.
RingTV.com: Were you initially surprised to see the testing official, even though you knew that the process was to begin soon?
ND: That was pretty interesting, because it’s random. You never know when they’re coming, and they just show up right then and there. That was pretty good.
RingTV.com: Has Nishioka also agreed to participated in the random drug-testing for this fight?
ND: I haven’t invited him to do it. I haven’t spoken to him directly about it. But I’m probably I’m probably going to come out and invite them at the press conference on Monday.
At a place like that, I will get the opportunity to talk to him, but again, it’s voluntary. It would be great if he would agree to it, but it’s really up to him.
RingTV.com: Has Conte educated you on what may be a banned substance and what is not, such as cold medicines, etc., in the event that you have to receive special treatment for an illness or medication from a doctor?
ND: He did on some of it. But, pretty much for me, I try to lay off of all of that stuff. They do give you an option of declaration where you get to list that, “You know what? I am taking this and that,” and then they put that in the declaration.
So they might expect to see that in your blood system, which, I think is good. The lady [testing official] was asking me if I had taken any supplements or medicines for colds or allergies or ibuprofen or anything of that sort.
I was like, “No, I haven’t.” So, I haven’t taken any of that stuff. But, again, it’s one of those things where, for me, I try not to have to take any of that stuff anyway unless I really, really need to.
RingTV.com: Are you finding yourself increasingly more concerned, for example, with not being in proximity to someone, say, at a concert or in a public place who might be smoking weed [marijuana] or engaging in other behavior that might jeopardize or endanger you in regard to potentially testing positive?
I mean, you do think about those things more and that kind of stuff [chuckles] because they’re smoking in the streets and you can smell it. So, it’s thoughts like that which are in my head more.
So that’s why I try to write down anything and everything that I might be in contact with. Even with the food that I’m eating and where I’m at, or where I’ve been.
RingTV.com: Being that this is an unprecedented situation perhaps in any sport, do you see yourself as the educator of other athletes in some fashion about this serious undertaking and what precautions need to be taken?
ND: For me, it is that way. I just try to do the things that I have to do to look out for the things that could be, again, a problem. Overall, this is all a good situation for me.
This is making me aware of what’s out there and what’s going on. Overall, it’s just about you just having to keep yourself healthy, I guess.
Photo courtesy of Nonito Donaire
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org