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Regarding A “Retroactive Therepeutic Use Exemption”

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Analysis, discussion, commentary and opinions still fly about weeks after The Fight of the Century, in all its glory and lack thereof, unfolded in Las Vegas.

The financial results are in, and all agree, the event was a rousing success from that standpoint. About 4.4 million pay per view buys were activated, the gate at MGM Grand tallied over $71 million, the boxers will gross between $150 and $200 million each.

Bigger picture, things are not as uniformly rosy. The action was fair to middling, vastly disappointing to some uneducated to the Mayweather Method of winning, which means doing so in risk averse fashion, paying as much or more attention to defensive adeptness than offensive output.

Lawsuits are at 30 plus and counting, targeting Manny Pacquiao for entering a bout with a bum right shoulder, after suffering an injury less than a month before the clash, which had him pondering pulling out.

One element of the drama which continues to be discussed comes as a result of a story by the dean of fightwriters, Thomas Hauser, the Muhammad Ali biographer and prolific author. Hauser dropped a story on Boxing Scene on Tuesday which contained a tidbit which had eyebrows raising in many circles. The story was titled “The Big Lie” and in it, Hauser reported a previously unreported fact about the PED testing for the super-fight. Here is the portion of the Hauser story which stood out most for me:

In early March, USADA presented the Pacquiao camp with a contract that allowed the testing agency to grant a retroactive therapeutic use exemption to either fighter in the event that the fighter tested positive for a prohibited drug. That retroactive exemption could have been granted without notifying the Nevada State Athletic Commission or the opposing fighter’s camp.Team Pacquiao thought that was outrageous and an opportunity for Mayweather to game the system. Pacquiao refused to sign the contract.Thereafter, Mayweather and USADA agreed to mutual notification and the elimination of retroactive therapeutic use exemptions. A copy of the final contract contained a section entitled “Therapeutic Use Exemptions,” which states: “Mayweather and Pacquiao agree that both athletes shall be notified within 24 hours of either of the following occurrences: (1) the submission by either athlete of a TUE application; or (2) the approval by USADA of a TUE application submitted by either athlete. Additionally, any modifications to an existing TUE by either athlete shall be communicated to the other athlete within 24 hours. Notification shall include: (1) the date of the application; (2) the prohibited substance(s) or method(s) for which the TUE is sought; and (3) the manner of use for the prohibited substance(s) or method(s) for which the TUE is sought.

That phrase, “retroactive therapeutic use exemption.”

Hauser wrote that he had in his possession a copy of the “final contract” which laid out particulars if in fact either boxer applied for an exemption, which would be the case, we can presume, if either man tested positive for a banned substance, but wished to proceed without penalty unimpeded, to be able to participate in the fight.

Boxing hasn’t had as much experience in this “therapeutic use exemption” realm as has mixed martial arts, but there have been occasions when fighters have asked for permission to be able to use a substance, one which might be seen as a “PED,” with the OK from a physician, because, they maintain, they have a legitimate medical or physical need to use said substance, which would over-ride the potential performance enhancing property of that substance.

By way of example…Lamont Peterson tested positive ahead of his May 2012 rematch with Amir Khan. He showed an elevated level of testosterone in his bodily fluid. The scrap was cancelled, and Peterson explained the issue, in a story which ran on Boxing Talk. He said he was feeling fatigued, went to get checked by a doctor, and the doctor said he “had low free testosterone.” The boxer then took “testosterone pellets,” but was flagged. He was informed that some commissions will allow a TUE, or therapeutic use exemption, but stated that he didn’t know that an allowance could possibly be made for him, and also that he didn’t think he was using anything “performance enhancing.”

Back to MayPac…

That phrasing, that seeming desire to insert what seems like a contractual loop-hole to override a positive sample, struck me as at best curious. I reached out to Mayweather publicist Kelly Swanson, and emailed a request for comment or clarification regarding the matter. I received no response.

I also reached out to the testing agency Hauser mentioned, USADA, on Tuesday evening, and they told me they would furnish a reply, and I will insert that when it arrives. (UPDATE ALERT: A reply from USADA arrived Thursday at 12:45 PM ET):

Here is the USADA response:

The information in Mr. Hauser’s article concerning the final contract for USADA to run the anti-doping program for the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight is inaccurate.

The final contract signed by both fighters was clear that any TUE that was granted would be sent to the opposing fighter within 24-hours and that the granting of TUEs would be determined by USADA in its sole discretion in accordance with the WADA International Standards for TUEs, which includes retroactive TUEs. Any approved TUE will also be sent to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. TUE processing is a normal part of all international anti-doping programs.

I wanted to compare and contrast methods of operation and standards, so I reached out to Dr. Margaret Goodman, who heads up VADA (The Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) to see where her organization stood on the TUE issue. She sent this explanation which is contained in the VADA policy statement:

6. An application for a TUE will not be considered for retroactive approval except in extremely rare cases where:a. emergency treatment or treatment of an acute medical condition was necessary, orb. due to exceptional circumstances, there was insufficient time or opportunity for an applicant to submit, or VADA to consider, an application prior to doping control.The Athlete MUST inform VADA as soon as possible by fax or email if one of these circumstances occur. A TUE will not be considered for retroactive appeal if there is a failure to timely inform VADA of the exceptional circumstances.

The issue of testing has attached itself to both these fighters for many years. Mayweather barked for many years at Pacquiao to “take the test,” and also had to publicly apologize and make a payout to Manny for insinuating he was on PEDs. Pacman’s trainer Freddie Roach has a suit lodged against him by former Pacman strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, whom Roach accused of giving Manny “shady” drinks. Mayweather in the leadup to MayPac boasted that he’d gotten under Manny’s skin by hiring Ariza, and has credited Ariza with being most instrumental for Manny’s success, more so than Roach. So, there is ton of water under this particular bridge…

I don’t pretend to be anything resembling an expert on PEDs and testing and regimens and protocol. Victor Conte, who runs a supplement company and advises a bunch of athletes, is; he’s been on the dark side, as a peddler, and now, he maintains, he’s seen the light and wants a clean sport, and clean athletes doing their thing on even playing fields. He is a proponent for how VADA does testing and has been quite public about not caring for the USADA way. No surprise, he took aim at USADA after learning of this development in the Hauser story. “In my opinion, the request for a retroactive TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) clause by the Mayweather camp was suspicious and should never have been granted by USADA,” Conte told me. “Plain and simple. The fight took place under the jurisdiction of NSAC, not USADA. The fact that USADA did not inform the NSAC of the Pacquiao injury presents serious questions” about their ties to Mayweather, he continued. Conflicts of interest can pop up, he told me, if a testing agency is being paid by one of the athletes, or by one of their cohorts. “USADA’s primary role in boxing is to serve as an independent entity and protect the health and safety of the two fighters,” he continued, and it is clear he isn’t of a mind that their independence is unquestioned.

My take: This issue is a sticky one, a controversial one, and one that is mutating. Boxing, but of course, is a sport unlike any other. It shares, with MMA, the status of being a one on one endeavor, which makes testing and subsequent potential issues of punishment, which could include cancellation of an event which has been in the planning stages for many, many months. People find it hard to fathom the possibility that the May 2 Mayweather-Pacquiao bout could have been cancelled, for whatever reason, at the 11th hour. Certainly, the discussion following the disclosure that Manny Pacquiao came in with a bad shoulder attests to that; “what did you want him to do, risk being called a wimp if he pulled out?” many folks said. Never mind the immense expense that has already been outlaid and the procedural nightmares which would ensue if refunding had to be performed, for the tickets to attend, the hotels, the airlines, etc. We do understand the “show must go on mentality.” But if that is the prevailing mindset from all parties involved, and to that end, a positive test for a PED couldn’t possibly result in the cancellation of an event, then what sort of teeth, so to speak, does the testing process really possess? If language is going to exist which would conceivably nullify any positive test, and allow an offending substance to be rendered acceptable through an exemption, shouldn’t that construct be made public? Don’t all parties involved, the fighters, the organizers, the fans, deserve that, at minumum? We need more transparency, more uniformity, if the testing procedures and post-positive protocol can be agreed upon and applied uniformly.

Wording is important, and phrases like retroactive therapeutic use exemption don’t do well in passing the smell test, if you’re not a lawyer, whose reason for vocational being maybe rests on such wordsmithery and loopholery. That fight was a let-down, beyond monies being made by a select few; what say some greater good comes from it, and better PED testing policies, free from iffy such language, are the norm when the next “super fight” comes around.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face

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Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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A Kaleidoscope of Boxers Guaranteed to Provide Action: Past and Present

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Marvelous Marvin

To set the tone for this article, one needs only to watch the way in which Thomas Hearns came out in the first round against Marvelous Marvin Hagler. He was ready to rock and roll as was his fearsome looking opponent. The ensuing unmitigated savagery was the quintessential illustration of full-tilt boogie.

For most boxing fans, the anticipation of an all-out action bout gets the chills running down spines faster than anything else. But not all, as some prefer a tactical or clinical fight that someone like Mikey Garcia can orchestrate and others –but not many—enjoy a defensive gem via a Willie Pep, Nicolino Locche, or Pernell Whitaker. A few love a genuine blood fest that a Gabe Rosado-type can provide, and who doesn’t like seeing something special as in Sugar Ray Leonard, Kostya Tszyu, Terence Crawford or Vasiliy Lomachenko?

Chill-or-be-chilled types like Bob Satterfield and Tommy Morrison were super exciting. In this connection—a certain cadre of warriors, past and present, would come out charging and stalking as soon as the bell rang. Many demonstrated a marked disdain for defense and used a non-stop, no let-up pressure that discouraged their opponents, especially in the late rounds. The anticipation from the crowd was palpable because it sensed some form of destruction was on its way. The cheering would start during the instructions and sometimes did not let up until the concussive end.

This cadre included Rocky Marciano, Tony Ayala, Vicious Victor Galindez, Jeff Fenech, Roberto Duran, and Julio Cesar Chavez (who sapped the spirit of his opponents by ripping away at their mid-section). Also, Carl “The Cat”  Thompson , chill-or-be-chilled Ricardo “Pajarito” Moreno (60-12-1 with 59 KOs),  Ron Lyle, the ultra-violent Edwin Valero, the appropriately nicknamed JulianMr KO” Letterlough, James “The Outlaw” Hughes and his mindboggling ability to snatch victory from certain defeat, Thai stalking monster Khaosai Galaxy (47-1),  the first version of George Foreman (pictured with the aforementioned Lyle), Ji-Hoon “Volcano” Kim, Ruslan  Provodnikov, Orlando “Siri” Salido, Marcos Maidana, Lenny Z, Alfredo “Perro” Angulo, Mike Alvarado, Brandon Rios, and Mickey Roman (the later four are still fighting but past their primes).

Others who presently incite the anticipation of something special include (but are not limited to) Naoya “Monster” Inoue (16-0), Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr (24-0), Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (46-4-1), Alex Saucedo (27-0), and, of course, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (38-1-1) who now has become slightly more tactical like his nemesis, Canelo Alvarez (50-1-1).

These stand out as representative.

Past

A prime Mike Tyson—and the emphasis is on prime– was the epitome of a boxer who guaranteed action. One simply would not leave his or her seat when “Iron Mike” was doing his highlight reel thing, and his blowout of Michael Spinks punctuated his standing at the top of all-action type fighters, even if the action was usually non-mutual.

Joe Frazier came out smokin’ and would not let up until either he or his opponent were done. For the most part, decisions were not in Joe’s DNA and his left hook was as malicious as a hook can be. With Joe, you just sat back and enjoyed the action. Frazier, wrote boxing historian Tracy Callis,  “was a strong, ‘swarmer’ style boxer who applied great pressure on his opponent and dealt out tremendous punishment with a relentless attack of lefts and rights; His left hook was especially stiff and quick when delivered during his bob-and-weave perpetual attack; he fought three minutes per round and never seemed to tire.”

Carlos “Escopeta” (Shotgun) Monzon (87-3-9) was a powerful and rangy Argentinean killing machine, built like an iron rod. Some said he pushed his punches. Well if he did, he pushed 87 opponents to defeat. He also became only the second man to stop former three-time world champion Emile Griffith, turning the trick in the 14th round. Blessed with great and deceptive stamina and a solid chin, he seemingly was an irresistible force. He was unbeaten over the last 81 bouts of his career, a span of 13 years, and defended his title 14 times. “One would need to write a book in order to do justice to comparing a fighter of Carlos Monzon’s calibre to his fellow all-time greats,” wrote Mike Casey.

Arturo Gatti and Irish Micky Ward were the quintessential action fighters. One is gone amidst controversy, and hopefully the other will not pay a price for his many ring wars. With these two, just count up the Fights-of-the-Year and the rest is history. Suffice it to say that Gatti and Ward will be forever linked in boxing lore.

Until his fateful fight with Nigel Benn (another all-action fighter), Gerald McClellan was absolutely, positively, a stalking monster with dynamite in his gloves. It was ferocity and fury at its highest level and it was something to behold. Sadly, his fight with Benn left him permanently disabled; his story remains a dark stain on boxing. As Ian McNeilly notes, “one man’s finest hour was the end of another man’s life as he knew it.”

Michael “The Great” Katsidis’s all-action style made thrilling fights a lock. The Kat” was willing to take three to deliver one. It was blood and guts to the last drop. Whether he too exacted a heavy price for this style remains to be seen.

Lucia Rijker, AKA “The Dutch Destroyer,” lived up to her moniker and destroyed everyone in her path. Again, it wasn’t “if,” it was “when.”

Christy Martin (49-7-3) put female boxing on the map in the ‘90s and she did it by going undefeated in 36 straight encounters, running roughshod over her opponents as evidenced by her 25 wins by stoppage during this run. She also managed to steal the show from a Mike Tyson main event in 1996 during her memorable and bloody battle with Deirdre Gogarty.

Present

Deontay Wilder, aka “The Bronze Bomber,” has a record of 40-0.  With 39 wins coming by KO—many in spectacular fashion, The “Bomber” brings with him that same sense of anticipation that Tyson did. It’s not if; it’s when and “when” can occur at any time. But unlike Tyson, there is a vulnerability that Luis Ortiz exposed that makes the excitement index go even higher.

Dillian Whyte (24-1) has seldom been in a dull affair. His vulnerability combined with his mode of attack ensures thrilling action and the possibility of a stoppage at any time. Unlike Dereck “Del-Boy” Chisora, Whyte is consistently aggressive and dangerous.

Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2) has slowed down considerably but his recent stoppage win over Lucas Matthysse offers hope that he can still conjure up his exciting whirlwind style of fast in-an-out movements that allowed him to win multiple titles over several future Hall of Fame opponents between 2005 and 2011. A rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., if rumors are true, would allow Pac Man an opportunity to accomplish a number of extraordinary things including avenging a prior defeat and ruining Mayweather’s undefeated record. Time will tell.

Though he appears to have shot his wad, a prime Antonio Margarito was the classic stalk, stun, and kill fighter. Heck, he belonged on the Discovery Channel. His two blowouts of Kermit Cintron showed the “Tijuana Tornado” at his most brutal. His come-from-behind demolition of Miguel Cotto stands out for its drama and bloodletting—and subsequent speculative controversy.

David Lemieux (39-4) always brings the heat. His fights seldom end as scheduled. With KO power in both hands and a propensity to rehydrate by 20 pounds, he is the essence of danger and attendant excitement. “With the sheer power he carries, Lemieux will always have a shot at beating any middleweight, and he is almost always involved in good action fights,” says James Slater.

Amanda Serrano (35-1-1) is the only women’s boxer to win world titles in six divisions. The “Real Deal” is unique in that she has a high KO percentage (74 percent) which is rare for female boxers. Amanda is 120 seconds of guaranteed action for each round.

                                                         **********

While Iron Mike Tyson is THE MAN, Matthew Saad Muhammad also warrants special billing as he embodied what this article is all about. Steve Farhood summed up the essence of Saad Muhammad with an observation that would be appropriate for his tombstone: “Eddie Gregory (Mustafa Muhammad) has a better jab, Marvin Johnson wields more power, James Scott does more sit ups. But, Muhammad’s heart is the size of a turnbuckle, and it anchors his title reign.”

Who did I leave out? Whose name or names would you add to this list?

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