In one of the
biggest title fight blunders in memory, the Texas Department of Licensing and
Regulation revealed Monday afternoon that they simply forgot to book an
anti-drug testing lab to handle urine samples collected during this past
Saturday’s Top Rank promoted “Welcome2dfuture” card. The card, televised live
on HBO from San Antonio, TX’s Alamodome, co-featured a WBO super bantamweight title
bout between Nonito Donaire and Wilfredo Vasquez, Jr and a WBC middleweight
title fight between titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr and mandatory challenger
Marco Antonio Rubio. According to all involved as well as several sources
present, not one of the televised fighters was tested for performance enhancing
drugs before or after the fight.
popular belief, Texas has had an anti-doping testing program since last fall,
according to Susan Stanford, the Public Information Officer for the Texas
Department of Licensing and Regulations.
computer generated,” Stanford told Maxboxing.com on Monday. “The fighter’s
names are put into the computer and their numbers are just randomly picked. The
numbers appear and after we get however many are going to be tested, if we are
going to test six then it’s the top six. The computer does not differentiate so
if one person’s name comes up twice we go to the seventh person.”
Unlike in a
state like Nevada or California, which randomly selects fighters to be tested
but also mandates that the televised fighters, especially in title fights, be
drug tested, Texas’ system seems a little looser. The commissioner can tab
certain fighters to be tested but it is at his and his assistant’s discretion.
The likelihood of that happening in a sport rife with personal relationship
problems is likely slim.
an official statement given to me by Ms. Stanford, Texas simply dropped the
Department of Licensing and Regulation did not book the drug testing laboratory
for the Top Rank event on February 4, 2012,” the statement read. “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
suggests that two fighters, Vanes Martirosyan and his opponent Tory Lowry, out
of 18 fighters, were the only fighters selected by the computer. It further
suggests that someone was present, collecting two fighters’ urine samples but
had no one to give them to so that person destroyed the samples since
apparently urine that needs to be tested can’t be stored overnight in a fridge.
In fact, the
samples could have been stored in a fridge until a lab pick up could be
arranged. It is standard Olympic testing
procedure to store urine samples for up to eight years. Yet, Texas, having
collected two urine samples but having no one to take them, just dumped the
Ms. Stanford, Texas uses Lab Corp to test samples. Not always but enough that
when asked what lab they use, she answered “I can’t say we use them all the
time but the one I am familiar with is Lab Corp.”
LabCorp is one
of the largest clinical laboratory chains in the country. However, from what I
understand, they do not do anabolic testing themselves. Instead they might job
that gig out to someone like Quest Diagnostic in Las Vegas. Understanding that
drug testing is a new protocol for Texas, it is hard to believe someone simply
forgot to call LabCorp. It’s possible but illogical someone called the urine
collector but not the lab guy.
Just to give
you an idea of how easy it might have been to schedule a sample pick up, which
can be done online or over the phone, there are eleven LabCorp labs within nine
miles of the Alamodome, three of which are within two miles of the stadium.
While all of those were closed for business by 4:30 on Saturday, all would be open
for business by 9 AM at the latest on Monday.
Rubio’s manager, Julio Gudino, the night before the fight at the rules meeting,
Texas Athletic Commissioner Dicky Cole explained that the fighter’s would not
be taking pre-fight drug tests. His reasoning, according to Gudino, was that “we were not doing a pre-fight
anti-doping test because [a cheater] can inject something after that or during
the fight. So we were doing it post fight.”
later, after Chavez, Jr, who reportedly struggled to make the 160 lb weight
limit, rehydrated on fight night from 159.6 to 181 pounds, beat Rubio by
unanimous decision, Cole’s tune changed. In fact, everyone from WBC President
Jose Sulaiman to Greg Alvarez, Cole’s assistant executive director, to Cole
himself, seemed to hit a blank spot when asked about drug testing after the
me Monday that at first, he and team Rubio sat in the locker room, no Texas
inspector or commissioner in sight, waiting to be tested as per the WBC title
fight rules and the fight contract agreement. When no one came, the team went
to Chavez, Jr’s locker room to see if they had been tested or knew the
“When we got
to Chavez’ locker room, because we had no commissioners in our locker room
after the fight, there were three or four commissioners and we said ‘Hey, we
need to do the anti-doping test so we can get out of here.’ All of sudden all
three or four of them come rushing to us and say ‘What Anti-doping test?”
told to talk to either Dicky Cole or Greg Alvarez. When he did so, Gudino claims
Alvarez told him “‘We’re not doing a test. What test are you talking about?”
“I said ‘The
anti-doping test. What do you mean you don’t know about it,” explained Gudino
who claims that Alvarez told him “You need to talk to the WBC about that. That
is their responsibility.”
go over to both Jose Sulaiman and Dicky Cole, both of whom you can see in this
video taken while Gudino is tracking down answers.
Cole took responsibility
to not ordering the anti-doping lab to handle sample collection while Sulaiman
change it,” said Cole to Sulaiman in the middle of what looked to be an angry
crowd gathered around two politicians holding an impromptu meeting of the
minds. “It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t the WBC’s fault. It wasn’t the fighters
fault. It wasn’t nobody’s fault. I am going to blame Dicky for not having the
dope people here.”
blame you,” said Sulaiman to Cole. “I could never blame you.”
can blame me because it is the commission’s responsibility.”
“No. No way,”
said Sulaiman. “I don’t blame you. We take it together.”
conceded Cole. “But you don’t have connections to order my drug tests.”
Sulaiman laughed and said “I agree.”
At this Gudino
interjected “The WBC should hold up its rules and call for a disqualification.”
“It’s so easy
for you,” Sulaiman said to him.
easy for my guy to do what he did and you don’t respect the rules,” countered
“No I don’t,”
don’t,” said Gudino.
said Sulaiman as he fled the scene.
of “pass the buck” was a microcosm of my Monday. At first, the Texas commission
said it was up to the WBC to set the testing protocols. Then the WBC told me
that it had no jurisdiction to enforce drug testing. They seemed to suggest
that because Texas does not have drug testing, they could not enforce a test on
So what are
In Texas, a
pre or post fight drug test is determined either by the aforementioned computer
or can be ordered by the executive director or his assistant.
“(p) 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. The applicant or licensee is responsible
for paying the costs of the drug screen.
positive test (which has been confirmed by a laboratory authorized by the executive
director or his designee) for any of the following substances shall be
conclusive evidence of a violation of subsection (o).
agents (exogenous and endogenous)
(5) Peptide hormones
agonists (asthma medications)
the WBC rule 4.9, drug testing is mandatory in title or elimination bouts. Here
are just a few the rules regarding anti-doping in title or elimination bouts
sanctioned by the WBC.
Test Required. The antidoping tests are mandatory for every world title or
elimination bout. When a site for a title bout has no antidoping facilities, a
nearby city will be used. The WBC may print a form setting forth the antidoping
tests and procedures and attach it to registered contracts of champions and
challengers. An official WBC laboratory may also be established by the WBC.
Both champion and challenger shall adhere to these procedures and policies, and
mandatory drug testing will be performed pursuant to the WBC Rules and
The local commission will specifically appoint a doctor to supervise and
administer the antidoping test. Where there is no local laboratory available,
or when necessary, the WBC will order a neutral doctor to supervise the
antidoping tests and take all necessary samples.
The WBC has
the right to select primary laboratories around the world for the antidoping
program and conduct of the testing under approved protocols.
for Administration of Anti-doping Tests. Each local commission will determine
the mechanics for implementation of anti-doping tests, but the following
measures are required:
tests shall be taken from the urine of the contending boxers immediately after
the bout, at the dressing room or place designated by the doctor. The WBC may
authorize the samples to be taken before the bouts only in places where a law
or a rule so requires.
WBC title or elimination bout, the local commission shall inform each boxer
that the testing of his urine is mandatory immediately after each bout, and
that failure or refusal to submit to such testing may result in disciplinary
action, including, without limitation, disqualification, suspension or a fine.
f) Failure to
Take Anti-doping Tests. If, after being notified by the local commission about
the mandatory testing of their urine, a boxer does not submit to such a
testing, he will be disqualified, fined or suspended.
is interesting. “Failure or refusal to submit to such testing . . .” According to Billy Keane, manager of
Chavez, Jr, his fighter was never asked to test therefore responsibility for
not taking a drug test falls to the commission or the WBC.
asking me why the WBC didn’t drug test my fighter?” said Keane. “I can’t
comment on that. I understand you curiosity but this is a question for the WBC
On the night
in question, of the four men not tested in title fights, only Keane’s man seemed
to draw ire from another camp.
four guys in title fights. None of them were tested. Why is it only my guy that
is being hit in the media that he didn’t test? You tell me that,” demanded
Billie Keane, the manager of Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr when I contacted him
The answer is
simple. Of the four men, only one was arrested for DWI on January 22 in the
midst of training camp just two weeks out from the fight. Of the four men, only
one was caught using a diuretic in a sanctioned fight November of 2009 against
Troy Rowland. Only one of the men in question reportedly gained 21 pounds from
weigh-in to fight night. That man is Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. So it stands to
reason that when a post-fight drug test, agreed upon in contracts according to
Team Rubio, and mandated by the WBC rules for title and elimination bouts, is
not administered, people might be upset in his general direction.
suspension for using a diuretic in Nevada, Chavez, Jr has fought five times; once
in Los Angeles and Mexico and three times in Texas. He has also switched up his
team, now training under strength coach Ariza and trainer Freddie Roach at the
Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, CA.
for comment on Monday, Roach’s assistant told me to call Billie Keane.
all, you have to understand, Rubio’s team is a bunch of crybabies,” said Keane
when I first asked him for a statement regarding what happened or did not
happen in Texas. “All they did all week is complain about everything. Complain
about the ref, the gloves Julio was using. Everything was a complaint. Now they
should be really complain about the ass whooping Julio gave Rubio. Instead of
that they are just sour grapes trying to complain about this drug test. What
his team is not telling anybody is Rubio himself didn’t take a drug test.
Nonito Donaire did not take a drug test. Vasquez did not take drug test. It’s a
random drug test. Vanes Maritrosyan was the only one selected to give a drug
test. He took it and that’s it.”
When asked if
Chavez, Jr had ever taken a drug test in Texas, Keane responded that he was not
with Chavez when he fought John Duddy in June 2010 and could not remember if he
had been tested prior or post of the Peter Manfredo fight in December of last
records are not public information,” Ms. Stanford told me when I asked her if
Chavez had been tested in Texas. “The WBC requires on their title events that
drug testing be performed. Because of that you can deduce or assume that since
he has fought for titles before that he was more than likely drug tested.”
has been clean since he tested positive for diuretics,” claimed Keane. “He has
a whole new team involved. The fact that he tested positive for a diuretic,
believe me when I tell you that is not why he is being called out. It’s sour
grapes. He beat Rubio’s ass fair and square. They don’t want to accept the fact
that Rubio lost. He said Rubio did not punch that hard. They want to find some
illegal thing but the reality is my fighter fought great on the night and that
is why he won the fight. “
samples were collected on the night in question. And those samples were
destroyed. The one known diuretic user was somehow passed over for testing. It
is safe to say, Texas has some kinks in their drug testing protocols. For one,
they are still only using urine testing. In a day and age when cheaters are
perhaps years ahead of testers, micro-dosing testosterone or performing EPO-infused
solo blood transfusions, simple urine testing is inadequate. A cross section of
urine and blood testing is required to catch the drug cheats possibly rampant
in the world of combat sports. But this is not new or specific to Texas. Loopholes
in the system exist everywhere.
is called by some “the best commission in the world,” allows a 50% differential
in their T/E ratio levels than any other commission. Normally, the acceptable testosterone
to epitestosterone level is 4/1. In Nevada, it is 6/1. Nevada is also the only
state commission that has thus far allowed combat athletes to have a medical
exemption for testosterone replacement therapy. With those two loopholes in
place, the state might as well post a “Come to Nevada and Drug Test. We Won’t
Catch You” sign as you enter state limits.
As Team Rubio
made clear, this is not about trying to catch Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. This is
about a dangerous sport that needs desperately to enter into a new age of drug
“I am not
blaming Billie. I am not blaming Chavez,” said Gudino. “That’s not where this
story is at because I don’t know what went on in Chavez’ dressing room and I
don’t know what went on with Billie. That’s not my issue. That is not where I
am going with this. I don’t want to bad mouth Chavez or his team. That’s not
the point of this issue.”
Rubio is not trying to single out one fighter, they are not backing off the
stance that someone, perhaps several entities, dropped the ball on Saturday
filing a protest and we have sought legal counsel,” Gudino told me. “We will
have further instructions as to what our options are moving forward [in the
coming days.]. We are not taking this lightly or sitting back. This is not
about being a sore loser. This is just more about coming to the bottom line of
what is right is right and for the protection of our boxer and the integrity of
the sport. This is just ridiculous and the way boxing has been turned into a
sport of disgrace of some sort whether it be ranking systems or drug testing.
Whatever the case may be, enough is enough and it just happened to happen at
this particular point with our boxer.”
Chavez, Jr and the future, likely nothing will come of a protest. On Monday, a
WBC representative couldn’t answer how a fighter who never beat anyone in the
top ten of the middleweight division was allowed to be their champion. I doubt
they will be having any hearings over this issue regarding their favorite
middleweight son. Chavez, Jr is already looking at a possible Antonio Margarito
showdown on PPV. Whether or not he struggles in his next fight to make weight
or rehydrates 21 pounds again overnight remains to be seen. It has certainly
been par for his course in the last few fights.
“It is a
regular weight gain if you look at his past performances. It’s what he
rehydrates to,” said Keane. “So there is nothing suspect about this
case, it should be noted Chavez, Jr. did not run out of the arena as was
rumored. He did not tell anyone he would not test nor did he decline a test on
the night in question. Like Rubio and the other three fighters, he didn’t have
to because he was never even asked to test.
this leave us? With nothing but questions no one will likely get answers to.
Why was Texas
half-prepared to test? Cole allegedly said to Rubio’s team that the commission
would be testing post-fight. Then collectors take samples from two fighters but
have no one to pass the urine off to so they destroy the samples? How could
they be ready to take samples yet not have a lab ready? Why were only two men
selected by the computer? Why is it that not one title fighter was tested? Who
was in charge of setting up the testing? Was it the sanctioning body whose
title this fight was for or the state commissioner?
importantly, why wasn’t a fighter who had been caught on DWI two weeks from the
fight, with a history of using diuretics and who reportedly had trouble making
weight, gaining some 21 pounds in 24 hours, red flagged for drug testing? Why
let that guy, of all people, slip through the system untested?
understand his manager declaring how clean he is. That is his job. But it is
the commission’s job and the sanctioning bodies job to protect the combatants
and make sure that when Billie Keane declares his fighter clean, it isn’t just
a statement of opinion but an immutable fact arrived at through superior performance
enhancing drug testing.
There are a lot
of questions here with lot of people to answer for this blunder. And simply
stating “we forgot to book the lab” is not going to get it done.