Tim Smith

Brandon Rios fails drug test following loss to Manny Pacquiao


Three weeks after Brandon Rios suffered an embarrassing loss to Manny Pacquiao in Macau, China, the former lightweight world titlholder and junior welterweight contender took another shot.

Rios failed his post-fight drug test after the match on Nov. 23. As a result, he has been suspended for five months from the day of the fight by the China Professional Boxing Organization.

Rios, who passed four of the VADA-administered tests leading up to his match against Pacquiao, tested positive afterward for the banned substance methylexanamine – a stimulant that is commonly known as dimenthylamylamine or DMAA and has been used in dietary supplements.

Bob Arum of Top Rank, the promoter for Pacquiao and Rios, confirmed that Rios had failed the post-fight drug test.

“There was a little something in his urine after the fight,’’ Arum said. “It was something they (VADA) reported to the Chinese commission after the fight. He passed all the tests before that. It wasn’t a steroid. It was probably something he took to make weight.’’      

Dr. Margret Goodman, the head of VADA, confirmed that Pacquiao passed all five of the tests administered by the organization and that Rios had passed only four of the five. The results of the tests were forwarded to the Chinese boxing commission, the Association of Boxing Commissions, and the two boxers and their representatives.

Robert Garcia, Rios’ trainer, said he hadn’t been informed of a failed drug test.

“This is the first I’m hearing about it,’’ Garcia said. “I haven’t heard that.’’

Garcia said he has been focused on preparing Marcos Maidana for his 12-round welterweight championship match against Adrien Broner at the Alamodome on Saturday night. He said he will concentrate on that match and deal with the Rios matter afterward.

Rios was working for the first time with Alex Ariza, the former fitness coach for Pacquiao. Since returning from Macau, Ariza has been in the Oxnard, Calif., training camp helping Maidana prepare for Broner.

Ariza, who spoke to a group of reporters at the weigh-in in San Antonio on Friday, questioned the timing of the news of Rios’ failed test becoming public and the way the post-fight urine sample was collected.

“The containers that are used to retrieve the urine samples weren’t available after the fight. So they had Brandon pee into a (drinking) glass,’’ Ariza told the reporters. “Robert just brought that to my attention. So we will have to see whether something happened as they transferred it to another glass, or whether it was the drinking glass, or there could be a lot of contaminants like that.”

“I’m not saying that they did that, I’m just saying I don’t know why we went through four testings, and we never tested positive for anything. And then, all of a sudden, there is some kind of dietary supplement that supposedly you can get in an energy drink. … But I don’t know, because I haven’t seen the list.”

The Food and Drug Administration has warned supplement makers that DMAA is considered a dangerous substance after the deaths of five people who took supplements that contained it.

The U.S. Army said two soldiers who suffered fatal heart attacks during training in 2011 had DMAA in their systems. As a result, the U.S. Army pulled supplements that contained the substance from store shelves on army bases.

“It’s not a performance enhancing drug. It’s not any of those illegal things,’’ Ariza said. “It’s something that you can buy over the counter. In China, maybe he ate something. It could have been any of those things. It’s a dietary supplement. … I don’t really know.”

It is not clear what type of suspension Rios will receive for testing positive. Since China doesn’t recognize professional boxing, Arum said the WBO, which sanctioned the match, helped set up a boxing commission for Macau so VADA would have a regulatory body to report to. Top Rank has been one of the more proactive boxing promotion companies in using VADA to test boxers in high-profile events for performance enhancing drugs.

The VADA report was sent to Leon P. Panoncillo, Jr., a WBO official who set up the Macau commission. He did not respond to an email seeking comment on Rios’ positive test. 

The Association of Boxing Commissions was also sent the results of the VADA tests. Tim Lueckenhoff, the head of the ABC, said he had not seen the results yet.


Photo by Chris Farina / Top Rank

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