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Nebraska commission drops the ball

Terence Crawford rallied from a slow start to defend his lightweight title via ninth-round knockout. AP Photo/John Peterson

Lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford's thrilling ninth-round knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa on Saturday night was everything that is right about boxing: Two highly skilled, undefeated combatants, a great fight waged at the highest level and a passionate crowd.

If only the card was regulated like an elite event rather than like a small-potato club show.

In this day and age of rampant abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in all sports, it is expected that even the most basic urine drug testing be conducted in relation to a fight card. At the very least, the fighters in the world title main event should be tested and oftentimes the fighters go above and beyond commission-ordered testing by engaging in more stringent random blood and urine testing under the supervision of organizations such as VADA and USADA.

But, shockingly, neither fighter was tested in any way, shape or form on Saturday night. On top of that, representatives from both the Crawford and Gamboa camps told ESPN.com that they were told they would have urine samples collected after the fight but that nobody from the commission ever came to collect them.

According to the rules of the Nebraska State Athletic Commission, contestants do not have to be tested. Chapter 1, rule 001.17 clearly states, "The commissioner or inspector supervising the match may order anti-doping exams, whenever considered necessary, before of after a contest."

But there is no excuse for not having testing for a fight of this magnitude, especially when one of the fighters, Gamboa, was implicated in the Biogenesis PED scandal. That scandal mainly engulfed Major League Baseball, but Gamboa was on the list of athletes that supposedly had PEDs provided to them.

Gamboa has never been called before a commission to answer for it and has never been punished -- or found innocent, which he claims he is. But don't you think the commission would rather be safe than sorry and at least test him in some form? Gamboa, according to adviser Tony Gonzalez, wanted to be tested after the fight because of the dark cloud that has hung over his career because of the Biogenesis mess.

"That's why we wanted to take a test because that has dogged Gamboa," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said that he was with Gamboa for 45 minutes following the fight waiting for a commission representative to show up to collect his urine sample but nobody ever arrived and they left.

"He's a little peeved about it because they had ordered an anti-doping test after the fight and we didn't do one," Gonzalez said. "Nobody ever came. We expected there would be somebody to take the sample and John Duggan, the WBO supervisor [for the organization sanctioning the title], confirmed there would be but nobody came to take the urine. We were definitely disturbed by it."

Duggan told ESPN.com that he saw Gamboa and Gonzalez in the dressing room after the fight and said "they were waiting to be tested and would somebody come in because they were ready. I couldn't find anyone from the commission. Then I saw them again in the hotel and they said they'd make themselves available any time to be tested."

Crawford was not tested either, according to co-manager Brian McIntyre, who was with him in the dressing room.

"The Nebraska commission dropped the ball," McIntyre said. "They were supposed to test both guys and they should have tested both guys, but the commission dropped the ball on it. Terence was more than willing to test. He was willing to do random testing leading up to the fight and wanted it in the contract but it didn't happen. The least we could have had was the regular commission testing. It shows you the inexperience of the commission."

The fight was the first world title bout in Omaha in 42 years. But there could be more because Top Rank intends to bring Crawford back to fight there in the fall and probably after that as well. It is incumbent upon the Nebraska commission to do a better job.

Duggan said drug testing was on the agenda to discuss at the rules meeting after the weigh-in but the topic was never broached.

"We put it on our rules agenda to discuss drug testing. I was surprised that drug testing is random in Nebraska," Duggan said, referring to the fact that the commission can randomly select any fight from the card to test. "I don't think our fight was selected. I don't know if there was any reason why it wasn't selected. We encourage all of the commissions to do anti-doping testing for credibility. Our position is we encourage them to test but we can't force them to test or conduct the test ourselves, but we would like it done."

Brian Dunn, the deputy athletic commissioner in Nebraska, told ESPN.com by email on Wednesday that the commission did not test because nobody from the WBO asked for it -- even though Duggan said the WBO did suggest it and that the commission was well within its rights to test on its own.

"In Nebraska, every contestant is subject to random drug testing, but we do not have a policy that requires certain competitors be tested," Dunn said. "We are, of course, willing to test any athlete at the request of organizations, but no particular testing was requested from the WBO. Neither boxer was told that they would be tested after the bout, at least not by my staff. I am sorry to hear they were waiting."

Told that both fighter camps said that they had been told they would be tested, Dunn wrote, "Again, I am sorry those guys waited. I think maybe Mr. Duggan assumed we would test and, by all rights, maybe we should have tested. We never spoke about testing, but I will make sure to at least discuss [it] with the sanctioning organization supervisor in the future."

It better be more than a discussion. It better be a pledge to carry out quality testing.