Donaire embraces random testing
July, 5, 2012
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
The recent news on drug testing in boxing has been abysmal, with three big-name fighters testing positive for banned substances in the span of a couple of months.
First came Lamont Peterson, who tested positive for synthetic testosterone before his highly anticipated May 19 junior welterweight title rematch with Amir Khan, forcing the fight to be canceled.
A few weeks later, Andre Berto came up dirty for a steroid before his June 23 welterweight rematch with Victor Ortiz, and that fight also was canceled.
And then there was cruiserweight Antonio Tarver, who tested positive for a steroid after his lackluster draw June 2 against Lateef Kayode.
They came one after another, reinforcing a notion that is obvious to anyone paying attention -- that boxing, like many other sports, has a problem with performance-enhancing drugs and needs better and more stringent testing.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. pioneered going the extra mile a few years ago by insisting that he and his opponent submit to random blood and urine testing during the lead-up to their fight. And now junior featherweight titlist Nonito Donaire is taking it to another level.
"The Filipino Flash" has become the first fighter to agree to submit to random blood and urine testing 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Whether he has a fight lined up or not, Donaire is subject to random testing by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency, the same organization that busted Peterson and Berto.
Donaire (28-1, 18 KOs) will face South Africa's Jeffrey Mathebula (26-3-2, 14 KOs) in a junior featherweight title unification fight Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and decided recently to sign on for the long-term testing.
Ideally, other fighters will follow his lead.
"I decided to do this because I wanted to show that all of the things I have done, I have done through hard work," Donaire said. "I want to show honesty towards my fans. A lot of guys have been getting caught, but I just wanted to prove to my fans that the things I have done, I have done by myself. I am a person that started with nothing. I am honest, and I think it's good for the sport. I hope everyone is inspired by it to prove they are legit and that it can help the sport.
"They will be doing 24/7, 365-day random tests. So they can, at any time, be knocking on my door. I have to let them know where I will be at all times."
Although Donaire is being randomly tested, he didn't insist that Mathebula be tested as a requirement of making the fight.
"He is welcome to do it, but I don't force anyone to do it," Donaire said. "If he agrees to it, the whole boxing body needs to know about it. I invite them to join, but most importantly, I want my fans to know what I am doing."
Top Rank's Bob Arum, who promotes Donaire, has not yet fully embraced random testing to the point that he insists it be used for his major promotions, but he said he supports Donaire.
"I first want to commend Nonito for the position he is taking," Arum said. "I think if you look at what is happening in Congress with the bill that Senators [Harry] Reid and [John] McCain have put in for a federal boxing commission -- I would hope that if we had a federal boxing commission that that commission would institute random drug testing for every single registered fighter in the United States so that we would have a system akin to what we have in the other major sports, like football and baseball, under the auspices of a federal commission."
Arum said he has concerns -- not so much about the actual testing, but rather about who has the authority to deal with positive tests and to make sure it's a level playing field.
"What I am concerned about is the groups, no matter who they are, doing it without the direction of a commission," Arum said. "I have heard, just like you have probably heard, where people have paid money to get exemptions for people that have tested positive. That's a little scary. VADA is a good organization to do this testing and we have to establish protocol with VADA, who they would report to, etc.
"Let's say VADA finds someone who tests dirty. Now what happens? Who do they report it to? Is that basis enough for a commission? What are the consequences? ... All fighters should be tested, but we have to work out the consequences. It's easy with a guy like Tarver, who has participated in the fight, then his urine comes back allegedly dirty. That's an easy consequence. But what do you do with Fighter B who agrees to submit and he has a dirty test [before the fight]? This is a new area and has to be worked out, and it's a lot easier to handle with a federal boxing commission."
Donaire said he agreed with Arum's assessment even as he moves forward with random testing, and he's quite confident in his ability even if an opponent were to cheat.
"I am always willing to fight the guy," Donaire said. "I can say, 'Even though you're on [a PED], I can still beat you.' "