- Michael Woods, Boxing
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You could see it as a sad commentary on our times, or see the upside -- that the increasingly regular PED flaps in boxing mean the sport is actually attending to a problem that is present in all sports in which strength and stamina are prized and money is to be made.
Heck, it's everywhere; chessmasters have been busted using banned chemical aids.
Either way, the presence of performance enhancers in the fight game is undeniable and and as such, it seems like once a week we get another reminder of that. Some of our readers admit they couldn't care less about the issue, while others follow the issue with enough zeal that they can tell you what VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency), USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) stand for.
The PED issue heated up weeks ago in relation to the April 13 Nonito Donaire-Guillermo Rigondeaux fight at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. At first it looked like the fight could be in danger of being scuttled, as the two sides squabbled over testing terms. But things have smoothed out, it seems, and it looks like we are on target to see the showdown between the ace super bantamweights.
I asked Rigo's manager if indeed this is the case, that the issue has receded in importance, and we will be able to concentrate fully on the fighting side of the promotion, which is being put together by Top Rank.
At the Feb. 22 NY presser for the event, which is being televised by HBO, things got heated when Team Rigo demanded that the PED testing be done by USADA, not VADA, which Team Rigo said had too-direct ties to Victor Conte, the former BALCO bad boy. "The last I heard about USADA was at the press conference," Gary Hyde, Rigo's manager, told me, chuckling. "Rigo is having a great camp, in Orlando, Florida, and things couldn't be better." VADA has tested Rigo three times already, Hyde said, and a test was done last week.
As it turns out, Conte is no longer affiliated with Donaire; they parted ways last week over a business matter. Team Donaire told me Nonito was tested on March 19, and all seemed to be normal for boxing, the theater of the unexpected, when I talked with Donaire's wife-advisor, Rachel.
Fingers are tightly crossed that things stay placid and the much-anticipated scrap comes off without incident.