Drug Use in Boxing:

By Tom Donelson, BASN boxing writer
Updated: May 22, 2012
IOWA CITY, IOWA-(BASN) Within a period of one month, two major prize fights have been canceled due to one of the fighters testing positive for banned substances. Andre Berto-Victor Ortiz bout and Lamont Peterson-Amir Khan have been canceled and considering that these were major events that many fans were looking forward to seeing; the cancellation has left a major hole in the promotional schedule.
Steroids have already affected other sports and boxing has not escaped. Frans Botha was stripped of his IBF heavyweight title after defeating Axel Schultz in 1995 and the classic was when both Roy Jones and Richard Hall both tested positive after a light heavyweight title. In that case, no one was penalized probably because what do you do when both sides test positive?
In 2007, both Orlando Salido and Mariana Carrera both lost their titles after testing positive and Vargas tested positive after losing a bout against De La Hoya. James Toney lost his title after his bout with John Ruiz despite winning the bout in the ring when he tested positive after the fight. Dr. Margaret Goodman who worked with the Nevada Athletic commission noted, “I tend to think that it’s a much bigger problem than we recognize. I think boxing for the most part has ignored it. And I don’t think it’s related to the positive drug tests that have been turning up lately. I think the problem with boxing is that because there is no federal oversight, commissions don’t have to test, and they don’t all have to test for the same things when they do test, so there’s no standardization. And so more often than not, fighters aren’t tested, and don’t think they don’t know it. And I think if you talk to boxers, I think steroids are readily available in many gyms all over the world.” Goodman points out a key point, it is easy to cheat in boxing and not every state is rigid in testing or even looking for steroids and there is no real standards set for which drugs should or should not be tested.
Goodman added, “”The reason most fighters use anabolic steroids is not for the bulk It’s not the big heavyweights that are testing positive, it’s the smaller weights. And there’s always been this misperception that they’re used to put on bulk, whereas in reality they’re used by athletes so they can train more. They reduce the time they have to take off if they have a small injury. The problem is that it’s a double-edged sword, because steroid use chronically will lead to tendon injuries as well as a breakdown of the bones, making them more brittle.” For many boxers, the ability to train longer and harder allows them an advantage in the later rounds.
In an interview last September promoter Gary Shaw proclaimed, “”I think steroids are rampant in boxing. I think it’s disgusting and unfair. I don’t know why the commissions aren’t taking more action. In baseball, it’s gone from aesthetic to the Department of Justice. You don’t think they should be investigated in boxing? We all know in boxing the problem is rampant…If I had Floyd Mayweather, I’d do the same thing…I heard Lou Dibella say the only way Ortiz could have a rematch with Berto is random drug testing…All world titles fights should be tested,” (It is prophetic that Shaw brought up Berto last fall.)
Mayweather demand that Pacquaio be subjected to Olympic testing since in Mayweather mind, he has been asking how does a fighter like Pacquaio increase his power as he moved up in weight? I am not saying Pacquaio is using performance enhancing drugs but certainly major fights need to include drug testing and not just championship fights.
Mayweather told a boxing writer a decade ago to a reporter that steroids are being used widespread in boxing and the idea that steroids are not involved in boxing is wishful thinking since other sports have seen their sport invaded. Boxing is the one sport where it would be easy to use performance enhancing drugs since each multiple boxing commissions within the United States and internationally having different standards. Within the United States, many states are lax in enforcing rules.
The warning signs for boxing are in and for a sport that is already losing market share and fan support, the time has come to start a serious program to find out exactly how much of problem performance enhancing drugs.