Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Texas, WBC blew testing, not Chavez
By Dan Rafael
One can criticize middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for a number of things. The caliber of opponents he has faced, for instance. His need for radical weight loss in the final days before a fight. The fact he was arrested and charged with drunken driving two weeks before last Saturday's defense against Marco Antonio Rubio in San Antonio, a fight Chavez wound up winning fairly easily.
But Chavez did not duck a postfight drug test after beating Rubio. Unfortunately, Rubio's team caused a stir when it claimed that Chavez "practically fled from the dressing room without leaving a sample."
Chavez did not flee. He was in his dressing room for more than a half-hour after the fight. He showered and waited for a Texas official to come for his sample. If he was fleeing the scene to avoid a urine test, would he have hung out in the dressing room and then spent another half-hour at the postfight press conference?
"It's no more Julio's responsibility to track down the commission so he can take a drug test than it was for Rubio to tell the referee to take a point after he hit Julio low for the fifth time," Billy Keane, Chavez's manager, said. "We abide by the rules. Nobody came to ask us for a sample, which he was ready to provide. We would abide by anything that the commission or sanctioning body asked us to do. No more and no less."
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation doesn't require boxers to be drug tested. The state, however, usually tests fighters, even if it means just some randomly selected fighters on a card. Texas will also test title-fight contestants at the request of a sanctioning organization.
The Texas rules (which should be changed to require testing, but that's a story for another day) state the following: "A person who applies for or holds a license as a contestant shall provide a urine specimen for drug testing either before or after the bout, if directed by the executive director or his designee."
That didn't happen in this case. Chavez was not tested. Neither was Rubio. And neither were co-feature fighters Nonito Donaire and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., facts that the Rubio camp conveniently forgot to mention.
In fact, of the 18 fighters on the card, samples were collected from only two: junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan and his opponent, Troy Lowry.
Texas had intended to collect samples from other fighters on the card, including Chavez, Rubio, Donaire and Vazquez. But Texas screwed up, not Chavez.
The WBC, which sanctioned Chavez-Rubio, screwed up, too. The WBC requires postfight testing in its rules, but says it must be conducted by the local commission. So that means the WBC can order testing but has no way to enforce it. The WBC dropped the ball by not making absolutely certain that Texas officials were prepared to properly administer the tests. Just talking about it at the prefight rules meeting wasn't good enough.
Checking with Texas officials would have derailed any gossip from the Rubio camp. I checked with Susan Stanford, the very capable and always helpful public information officer for the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, who gave me the following statement:
"The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation did not book the drug testing laboratory for the Top Rank event on February 4, 2012. Specimens were taken from Lowry and Martirosyan, but in the absence of the independent testing laboratory the integrity of the samples could not be assured and they were destroyed. No further samples were taken. The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation regrets this oversight and is addressing the procedure going forward."
There are reasons why somebody might be suspicious of Chavez, who struggled severely to make 159½ pounds for Friday's weigh-in and then blew up 21½ pounds to 181 on fight night. The reason: After a November 2009 fight in Las Vegas, Chavez tested positive for Furosemide, a diuretic. Diuretics are typically used to assist in weight loss or to mask steroid use.
Chavez should have been tested. So should have Rubio, Donaire and Vazquez. But they weren't. Chavez didn't avoid a drug test; he just fought his heart out.
Texas and the WBC messed up, and that shouldn't happen again. They, not Chavez, made a terrible blunder.