MS 30th Anniversary XXX

Cleaning up sports

The bombshell dropped by The Miami New Times, which reported that 2004 Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa was among a group of top athletes in different sports who were linked to an anti-aging company identified as Biogenesis that allegedly supplied anabolic steroids  and human growth hormones,  dramatizes the urgent need for sports leaders and organizations to launch a massive crackdown on this despicable practice. The first step should be taken by the major boxing commissions in the United States, led by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, whose lax attitude to drug cheats is abetted by a testing system that is patently worthless. Despite the concerns voiced by many over the sudden muscular frame of Juan Manuel Marquez and his ability to maintain his weight, the NSAC cleared Marquez, who scored a crushing if not shocking one-punch knockout over Manny Pacquiao last Dec. 8 despite the fact that he had a broken nose, a bloodied face and was on the verge of being stopped. Besides, in three previous fights, he couldn’t drop Pacquiao and didn’t hurt him badly at all, while he himself was dropped four times in their first two fights. NSAC executive director Keith Kizer said Marquez and Pacquiao, who himself had been accused of taking performance-enhancing drugs in the past, tested negative after post-fight urine tests. It has been emphasized time and again that urine tests are generally worthless because of the modern masking agents that cover up any traces of illegal drugs taken by a boxer. Also, testing after a fight is meaningless because by that time the drugs would have been washed out of the system. What fighters need to do is to follow the exemplary road taken by Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire, who voluntarily and with no prodding from anyone, has subjected himself to random drug tests by the Voluntary Anti Drug Association. Of course, Las Vegas will not dare impose stringent regulations that could kill boxing, MMA and other sports when it is common knowledge that scores of athletes take performance-enhancing drugs. It would kill the city’s lucrative business, where major sports events draw thousands of fans, who roll the dice, watch the competition and go home not bothered even if a cheater won. It’s the Vegas lifestyle and those in a position to correct a depressing situation won’t lift a finger. Unfortunately, the various world boxing organizations won’t do anything either because the ranks of the fighters may be severely depleted and the main attractions may be discovered and kill the lucrative business of boxing which enable the organizations to exist with some style and many perks.. Promoters, too, are hesitant to insist on random drug tests, although Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, after the last Pacquiao-Marquez fight told us he would insist that both fighters undergo random drug tests leading up to their planned fifth showdown in September. If Arum keeps his word, then boxing would be the richer for it and grateful to him for a pioneering gesture that is obviously long overdue. Former two-division world champion Gerry Penalosa, whose protégé, southpaw Michael Farenas gave Gamboa the fight of his life and even dropped him once, was upset over the reports and suggested that if Gamboa is investigated and found guilty, he should be stripped of the WBA Interim super featherweight title. The recent revelations by cyclist Lance Armstrong has not only hurt cycling it has also hurt the honest riders and if no decisive action is taken quickly, it would also damage boxing and make the good guys pay the price, which should not be allowed to happen. There is an inherent danger in a sometimes brutal sport like boxing and to allow some scoundrels to juice up will pose serious danger to clean fighters. It is time all sectors of the sport get together to clean it up. We can perhaps accept bum decisions but fight fans cannot and should not accept cheating.
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