Seconds Out

Mayweather-Pacquiao, PEDs, and Boxing

By Thomas Hauser

Two days before Manny Pacquiao fought Miguel Cotto, I talked with Alex Ariza, who has been Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach since early 2008. When I asked what it was like to work with an athlete of Manny’s caliber, Ariza shook his head in wonder.

“It’s an extraordinary experience,” he said. “Athletes start to backslide around age twenty-eight if they haven’t started to decline before then. Manny is thirty and he’s getting better. Our records don’t lie. Not only is he getting stronger; he’s actually getting faster as he moves up in weight. I’ve worked with some great athletes, but I’ve never worked with an athlete like Manny.”

“But there’s one thing that’s very frustrating for me,” Ariza added. “Manny won’t let me do all the tests I want to do with him. There are tests I’d love to do to determine his lung capacity, but they’re invasive and he won’t let me do them. And there are other measurements, quite a few, that I’d like to take, but I can’t because Manny is very protective of his body.”

People will read what they want to into Ariza’s comments. Those who supported Floyd Mayweather Jr in the debacle that saw Mayweather-Pacquiao go from superfight to superflop will say that Pacquiao is able to defy the laws of nature because he’s using performance enhancing drugs. Manny’s partisans will respond that Ariza’s remarks confirm their hero’s honest aversion to invasive testing.

I don’t know whether Pacquiao (or Mayweather) is using performance enhancing drugs or not. To my knowledge, no one else in the media does either. I do know that both men are entitled to the presumption of innocence in the absence of hard evidence to the contrary. And to date, no one has produced such evidence.

Still, recent events have ended the anonymity (if not immunity) that boxing enjoyed throughout the earlier public debate regarding PEDs and sports. So let’s take a look at (1) the nature of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs; (2) their role in boxing; (3) the instant controversy between the Mayweather and Pacquiao camps; and (4) some lessons that can be drawn from it all.

It’s not a pretty story. The situation brings to mind the exchange between Colonel Nathan R. Jessep (played by Jack Nicholson) and Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee (Tom Cruise) in A Few Good Men:

Colonel Jessep: You want answers?
Lieutenant Kaffee: I want the truth.
Colonel Jessep: You can’t handle the truth.

Does boxing really want to know?


The first thing to know about performance enhancing drugs is that they work. When used in conjunction with proper exercise and training, they create a better athlete.

Steroids decrease inflammation and healing time. “That’s how the whole thing started, with legitimate medical usage,” says Dr. Flip Homansky (former chief ringside physician for the Nevada State Athletic Commission).

“Anabolic androgenous steroids,” Homansky explains, “are synthetic derivatives of the naturally occurring male hormone, testosterone. Testosterone helps the body turn dietary protein into muscle. The utilization of protein is improved and the inhibitory effects of other substances are reduced. This results in increased capacity to train, decreased fatigue, a shorter time for muscle recovery, and the development of muscle tissue. The old theory in weight training was that you worked a certain set of muscles two or three times a week. Steroids allow a user to work them every day.”

Human growth hormone (HGH) is naturally produced by the pituitary gland and is now also synthetically made. It was first administered in the 1950s to children with stunted growth and does what its name implies. In Homansky’s words, “If your growth plates are already fixed, you won’t get taller. But HGH will naturally enlarge your muscles, although the enlargement is in a flabby way so you have to work out to get a strength benefit.”

Twenty years ago, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that the use of human growth hormone by men over a six-month period decreased the body fat of participants in the study group by 14.4 percent and increased lean muscle by 8.8 percent. More recent studies show a synergistic effect between HGH and anabolic steroids.

Erythropoietin (EPO) is a synthetic version of a hormone made by the kidneys that stimulates the body’s production of red blood cells. Doctors prescribe it for patients suffering from malfunctioning kidneys and anemia and also to treat cancer patients after chemotherapy. Athletes use EPO to boost their endurance, since red blood cells carry oxygen to muscles.

“It’s widely understood in the medical community just how dangerous performance enhancing drugs are,” Homansky says. “But appreciation of that danger hasn’t filtered down to some athletes and some physical conditioners. We don’t know with certainty what all of the long-term side effects are because very few athletes are willing to admit that they use PEDs. What we know for sure is that the number of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs available to athletes is growing daily; that recent developments have focused on making them less detectable and more powerful; and that the side effects are now often worse than before because the drugs are more potent.”

“Steroids, if taken long enough, will destroy an athlete’s body,” Homansky continues. “But one of the problems we face is that no one can be sure how long is too long.”

Then Homansky ticks off a list of negative side effects associated with steroid use by men: (1) shrunken testicles, leading to decreased sperm production and impotence; (2) increased cholesterol levels, leading to hardening of the arteries; (3) blood clots, which increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke; (4) kidney disease; (5) liver failure (most commonly from tumors and cysts); (6) hypertension; (7) gynecomastia (enlarged breasts); (8) the weakening of tendons, leading to joint injuries and muscle tears; (9) premature balding; (10) acne; (11) bi-polar, manic-depressive, and delusional behavior; and (12) uncontrollable violent outbursts (known as “roid rage”).

Human growth hormone carries its own set of risks. “The heart is a muscle,” Homansky explains. “Human growth hormone can cause an enlarged heart, which is a potentially fatal problem.”

Other side effects of HGH use can include abnormal enlargement of the kidneys and liver, diabetes, muscle and joint pain, and hypertension. Also, some researchers believe that HGH accelerates the growth of cancer cells.

As for EPO, an increased concentration of red blood cells thickens the blood and has been likened to pumping Jello through an athlete’s veins. That increases the risk of heart fibrillation and strokes.

Not good.

That’s why Todd Chapman (one of the better ring doctors in the United States) says of the penalties imposed for the unlawful use of PEDs, “The fighters may think of this as punishment. The doctors think of it as saving your life.”


Several years ago, Ed Graney wrote in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “Boxing’s image has, for the most part, escaped being overly stained by the presence of performance-enhancing drugs. If baseball is king of the juicing empire, boxing is a mere peasant. Imagine that. Boxing has discovered a high moral ground on which to stand above other sports.”

However, it would be naïve to think that athletes use steroids in baseball, football, and other sports but don’t use them in boxing. More and more in today’s world, fighters are reconfiguring their bodies for maximum performance and to compete in weight divisions that once would have been out of reach. With the history of sophisticated designer drugs in the Eastern European sports machine and the impact of steroids on performance in American sports, it was inevitable that PEDs would gain a foothold in boxing.

Fighters (not all fighters, but some fighters) use PEDs because it gives them a competitive edge. A boxer risks his physical wellbeing and borrows against his future health every time he steps into the ring. This is just one more risk.

A shared risk. As John Ruiz notes, “The only sport in which steroids can kill someone other than the person using them is boxing. You’re stronger when you use steroids. You’re quicker and faster. If a baseball player uses steroids, he hits more home runs. So what? I’m not saying that it’s right, but you’re not putting anyone else at risk. When a fighter is juiced, it’s dangerous. People go crazy about the effect that steroids have when a bat hits a ball. What about when a fist hits a head?”

A handful of regulatory entities make an occasional effort to test fighters for illegal steroid use. Sometimes these efforts bear fruit. But fighters, like those accused of white collar crime, rarely say, “Yeah; I did it and you caught me.” More often, they say that they didn’t know what their physical conditioner was giving them or they were taking a legal over-the-counter nutritional supplement or doing something else legitimate under medical supervision.

Few fighters are as candid as Tommy Morrison, who admitted in a 2005 interview with that he used steroids throughout his boxing career.

"You become bigger, faster, and stronger,” Morrison said. “It helps with your endurance and recovery time between rounds. I looked around and, from what I saw, everybody was doing the same shit. It wasn’t something that was talked about openly; but when you looked around, you could tell. I just looked at it as bettering my chances. Without steroids, I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did. I guarantee you that.”

The first fighter of note to test positive for steroids after a championship fight was Frans Botha, who decisioned Axel Schulz in Germany to win the vacant IBF heavyweight crown in 1995 but was stripped of the title after a urine test indicated the use of anabolic steroids.

Roy Jones Jr and Richard Hall each tested positive after a May 13, 2000, championship bout in Indianapolis which Jones won on an eleventh-round knockout.

Jake Hall (chairman of the Indiana State Boxing Commission at the time) later told Elisa Harrison of, “The information we received indicated that Mr. Jones failed the drug test for anabolic steroids. Talking to Roy’s attorney, Fred Levin, he indicated that Roy had taken a substance called Ripped Fuel, an over-the-counter supplement that is not illegal but is an illegal substance according to the IBF and the other sanctioning bodies. He admits that Roy took that. I have no knowledge whether he took that or some other substance.”

On August 2, 2000, Marian Muhammad (then executive secretary of the IBF, the lead sanctioning body for the fight) sent letters to Jones and Hall advising each man that he had tested positive for an unspecified anabolic steroid. No further action was taken.

In 2002, the Nevada State Athletic Commission instituted steroid testing for championship fights, but said that there would be a six-month period during which, absent aggravating circumstances, a fighter who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug would be sent an “educational letter” rather than be penalized.

On September 14, 2002, Fernando Vargas fought Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas. Thereafter, Vargas tested positive for the steroid stanozolol, which he said was given to him without his knowledge. Citing aggravating circumstances, the NSAC fined Vargas US$100,000 and suspended him for nine months.

Also in Nevada; former WBO bantamweight champion Cruz Carbajal tested positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone and the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide after losing to Silence Mabuza in a May 13, 2005, IBF bantamweight elimination fight. And Orlando Salido tested positive for nandrolone after beating Robert Guerrero for the IBF featherweight title on November 4, 2006.

James Toney ran afoul of the authorities in New York, when he tested positive for nandrolone after beating John Ruiz in an April 30, 2005, WBA heavyweight championship fight. The outcome of Ruiz-Toney was changed to no decision; James was suspended for ninety day; and Ruiz was reinstated as champion. Two years later, Toney tested positive for boldenone metabolite and stanozolol metabolite after a fight against Danny Batchelder in California.

How prevalent are steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in boxing today?

Nobody knows.

The truth is that no athletic commission and no world sanctioning organization tests adequately for performance enhancing drugs. Only a handful of states (Nevada, New York, and California) test for steroids. Their tests are unsophisticated. Relatively few fighters are tested. And the fighters know in advance when they’ll be tested, which allows sophisticated users to test “clean.”

No state athletic commission tests for human growth hormone. Chemical traces of synthetic EPO can be eliminated by a well-educated user in less than twenty-four hours.

Victor Conte is the founder and president of Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), which has been at the heart of several much-publicized PED scandals. He spent four months in prison after pleading guilty in 2005 to illegal steroid distribution and tax fraud.

Conte says that PED testing in boxing today is “IQ testing,” nothing more. In a recent interview with Steve Kim of, he declared, “The loopholes are so big that you could drive a Mack Truck through them. It’s really a joke. Traditional testing in boxing is basically worthless other than the detection of some types of stimulant before and after a fight. The testing is, almost by design, inept, and this basic ineptness breeds the use of performance enhancing drugs.”

The facts bear Conte out. The most significant revelations regarding the use of performance enhancing drugs in boxing haven’t come from state athletic commission testing. Rather, they’ve been incidental to federal investigations of other targets that resulted in the ensnarement of fighters who had previously passed state athletic commission tests.

On August 29, 2006, federal Drug Enforcement Agency officials in Alabama raided a compounding pharmacy (a pharmacy that makes its own drugs generically) called Applied Pharmacy Services. Among the documents seized were records stating that, in June 2004, a patient named “Evan Fields” picked up three vials of testosterone and related injection supplies from a doctor in Columbus, Georgia. That same month, Fields received five vials of Saizen (a human growth hormone). In September 2004, according to the documents, Fields underwent treatment for hypogonadism (a condition that results when the sex glands produce little or no hormones). The date of birth, home address, and telephone number listed for Evan Fields in Applied Pharmacy’s records were identical to those of Evander Holyfield.

When these facts were made public, Holyfield issued a statement that read in part, “I have never taken an illegal or banned performance enhancing drug of any kind. The use of such substances runs counter to everything I believe about sports and my place in the athletic world.”

The New York Times reported in 1995 that, after Holyfield lost his heavyweight championship to Michael Moorer, Evander was diagnosed as having a non-compliant left ventricle (one of four chambers in the human heart), which caused a dangerous build-up of fluids. That diagnosis, according to the Times, was confirmed by two sets of tests, the second round being conducted at Emory University in Atlanta.

Holyfield was tested a number of times for steroids in Nevada. The tests all came back negative. He was not tested by the Nevada commission for human growth hormone or EPO.

Chris Byrd successfully defended his IBF heavyweight title against Jameel McCline in 2004. Five months later, McCline lost a decision to Calvin Brock.

Thereafter, Byrd said of McCline, “His arms were massive. He was ripped. Everything he hit me with hurt. I’ve been in with some big punchers, but I’ve never been punched as hard as he punched me. He was strong. The fight right after mine against Calvin Brock, he didn’t look nearly as ripped or as strong. I was thinking, ‘This isn’t the same guy that fought me.’”

On October 13, 2007, the Palm Beach Post reported that fifteen drugs (mostly steroids and related substances) costing a total of US$12,343 had been shipped to McCline on a near-weekly basis in 2005 and 2006 through a Boca Raton anti-aging clinic. According to the report, “The drugs included seven steroids: testosterone, testosterone enanthate, oxandrolone, testosterone cypionate, stanozolol, nandrolone, and testosterone propionate. Also sent were carbopol (a thickening agent), chorionic gonadotropin (stimulates male hormones), liothyronine (a thyroid hormone), humulin (an insulin), somatotropin (human growth hormone), and spironolactone/hydrochlorothiazide (sometimes used to treat side effects of steroids). Tamoxifen, used by steroid users so they don’t develop feminine physical characteristics, also was shipped.”

Then there’s the case of Shane Mosley.

In September 2007, Sports Illustrated reported, “According to multiple sources who attended an international anti-doping conference in Colorado Springs last November, Jeff Novitzky, a lead investigator in the BALCO case, alleged that boxer Shane Mosley started an elaborate doping regimen in the months prior to a September 13, 2003, fight against Oscar De La Hoya. As Novitzky explained in painstaking detail, two months before the fight, Mosley, a client of the BALCO lab, began using ‘the clear’ and ‘the cream,’ the designer substances that Barry Bonds, among other athletes, stands accused of using.”

“The clear” is an undetectable anabolic steroid. “The cream” contains testosterone and epitestosterone, and is primarily a masking agent.

Novitzky also stated at the conference that Mosley supplemented these drugs with doses of Erythropoietin (EPO). And he backed his presentation with records seized from BALCO that detailed a dramatic rise in Mosley’s hematocrit level (a measure of red blood cells).

In response, Mosley told Tim Smith of the New York Daily News and Dan Rafael of that he had visited BALCO and met with Conte at the insistence of his former conditioning coach (Darryl Hudson) and had taken the drugs after he was misled by Conte, who told him that they were legal nutritional supplements.

Conte answered back, telling Smith, “I’ve never misled or deceived any athlete. I’ve always been a man of full disclosure.”

Thereafter, Mosley’s attorney (Judd Burstein) advised the media that Shane’s position was supported by a lie detector test that Shane had passed “with flying colors.” Of course, the lie detector test had been unilaterally arranged for by Burstein.

Then, in April 2008, Mosley filed a lawsuit for slander against Conte for stating publicly that he had knowingly used PEDs. “I cannot begin to explain how devastating Conte’s false allegations have been to me,” Shane declared in court papers. “I believe that I have carved out an important place for myself in the sport’s history. All of my life’s work is at risk because of Conte’s lies. I have a brand based upon the highest reputation for sportsmanship, and that brand is being irreparably tarnished by Conte.”

Conte responded with an affidavit from Darryl Hudson, who declared, “I know that Mr. Mosley was aware that the performance enhancing drugs provided to him by Mr. Conte were banned drugs because I discussed that fact with Mr. Mosley both during and after our visit to BALCO. It was entirely Mr. Mosley’s decision to use the banned drugs. I never recommended to Mr. Mosley that he take banned performance enhancing drugs, nor did I ‘push’ drugs on him in any way.”

At that point, the matter receded from public view. It resurfaced in January 2009, when the grand jury testimony of Conte and Mosley was made public. Based on that testimony, Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote, “On July 26, 2003, Shane Mosley and strength coach Darryl Hudson flew into Oakland. Conte, according to his account of the meeting, wrote up a doping calendar with the initials ‘S.M.’ at the top and handwritten notations for what to take on which days. Then he began putting various pills and substances on his desk. Some were legal vitamins and nutritional substances. Three were not.”

“There was The Clear, an undetectable anabolic steroid that he had been giving to his track athletes and that one track coach referred to as ‘rocket fuel.’ There was The Cream, a lotion Conte used as a masking agent. It tricked even the most advanced drug testers by keeping the body’s levels of testosterone at normal levels. Then there was the bottle Conte says was labeled ‘Procrit.’ Conte produced a syringe and showed Mosley how to use it, flicking it and pushing up the plunger to remove air bubbles. Then, Conte says, he handed the syringe to Mosley and watched him inject his first dose.”

“Mosley’s doping calendar called for injections of EPO, every other day for the first two weeks of the regimen; then once a week after that. His final injection was scheduled for September 8, five days before the [De La Hoya] fight and plenty of time to clear his system for a post-fight drug test.”

Thereafter, Michael Rosenthal spoke for many in the boxing community when he authored an article for The Ring Online.

“Shane Mosley,” Rosenthal wrote, “has earned the admiration of everyone in the boxing world for his unusual ability and fighting spirit. He’s a certain Hall of Famer. He’s one of the nicest guys in sports. And he’s a cheater. Of course, he said he never intended to gain an unfair advantage when he took performance-enhancing drugs in the weeks before his victory over Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas. He said he didn’t know what he was taking or that it might be banned by the majority of anti-doping agencies. However, just as we roll our eyes when Barry Bonds and company deny any intentional wrongdoing, it’s difficult to believe Mosley.”

“Consider these questions,” Rosenthal continued. “Why did Mosley have the supposedly legal substances he purchased from BALCO shipped to him instead of taking them back with him on the plane? Why would he taper off his use of the substances as mandatory drug tests got closer? What would Conte stand to gain by misleading Mosley? Why did Mosley stop taking all the supplements, even the harmless vitamins, after the fight? It adds up to a problem with Mosley’s credibility.”

The presence of performance enhancing drugs in boxing (whatever the extent of their use) is a stain on the sport.

“The ring should be as fair and honorable as we can make it,” Dr. Flip Homansky says. “No fighter should be allowed to gain an unfair advantage over his opponent. PEDs are an artificial aid and no different than tampering with a fighter’s gloves.”

Still, reality dictates that more than a few fighters will use performance enhancing drugs if they think they can get away with it. Indeed, the primary reason that many fighters don’t use PEDs is that they simply can’t afford them.

“I think it’s rampant in boxing,” Conte says. “Once one person gains that additional edge in speed and power and endurance, then others will do the same. They feel like they’re almost forced to use drugs to be on a level playing field. If there was good testing and the athletes themselves believed that the programs were effective, they’d be more inclined not to use drugs. Knowing that the programs are inept; this is what fuels the idea that they gotta do what they gotta do in order to be competitive.”

No one knows how many fights have been affected by the use of performance enhancing drugs.

“Was Andrew Golota on steroids?” Lou DiBella asks. “I don’t know. I do know that Golota looked pretty bulked up and had a lot of pimples on his back and exhibited symptoms similar to roid rage when he fought Riddick Bowe. And I also know that Riddick was never the same after he got hit in the head again and again by Golota.”


That brings us to the aborted superfight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr, also known melodramatically as “the world held hostage,” “the end of life as we know it,” and “the worst thing that ever happened to boxing (since at least last year).”

Bart Barry recently opined, “Pacquiao is a charismatic action fighter who’s created a market for prizefighting in the Philippines and made it as popular as ever throughout Asia. Mayweather is a foul-mouthed defensive specialist whose fights lose more fans than they gain. Pacquiao is good for boxing. Mayweather is good for Mayweather.”

Floyd’s fans will take issue with that appraisal. But the reality of the situation is that, over the past year, Pacquiao (not Mayweather) has become the standard-bearer for boxing in the United States and the rest of the world.

Two years ago, Carlo Rotella wrote in The New York Times, “There are good welterweight boxers to fight, and Mayweather isn’t fighting them. Even when he does deign to box, he has been taking big money fights against relatively easy opponents. At some point, his refusal to fight other top welterweights begins to undercut his claim to superlative greatness as a boxer, and the cachet of Mayweather’s brand rests on that claim.”

On May 3, 2009, (the day after Pacquiao annihilated Ricky Hatton), Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press proclaimed, “All Mayweather can do now is get in line. The road to greatness now runs through a fighter who lets his fists do the talking.”

Those comments and others like them were hurtful to Mayweather, who has told the world, “I don’t consider myself just a boxer. I’m an entertainment superstar.” The prevailing view was that Floyd had to fight and beat Pacquiao in order to maintain his superstar status.

In the wake of Pacquiao’s November 14, 2009, demolition of Miguel Cotto, calls for a Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown reached a fever pitch. Mayweather’s father (Floyd Mayweather Sr) stated publicly that he thought his son would “whup” Manny but advised against his taking the fight because, he claimed, Pacquiao was using performance enhancing drugs.

That earned a riposte from Freddie Roach (Pacquiao’s trainer), who referenced Sr’s criminal past with the observation, “Just because he’s a convicted drug dealer doesn’t make him a drug expert.”

Alex Ariza (Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach) weighed-in with the observation, “When he first started saying that stuff, I didn’t really address it because it was coming from Floyd. But things like that can start to snowball. I’m not saying this to be demeaning, but Floyd never finished high school and I’m not sure he knows the difference between steroids and supplements.”

More to the point, Ariza told, “Manny does take supplements. I’m talking about multi-vitamins and trace minerals. He takes other supplements for his kidney and liver because he’s on such a high-protein diet. All of them are perfectly legal. I’m completely in control of what goes into Manny. Everything he puts into his body is my responsibility. Manny takes nothing illegal.”

Team Pacquiao also noted that Manny had fought in Las Vegas eleven times and never tested positive for an illegal drug.

Serious negotiations for a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight began against that backdrop. Pacquiao has a contract with Top Rank (Bob Arum’s promotional company). Mayweather was represented by Golden Boy (which Richard Schaefer has built into a formidable force in the boxing industry).

Initially, things went smoothly. March 13th was designated as the likely date for the bout. After minimal posturing, the two sides agreed to a 50-50 financial split. The fight would be known as “Mayweather-Pacquiao” (rather than the other way around), but Top Rank would be referenced ahead of Golden Boy in all promotional material.

Mayweather had ignored the 144-pound contract limit for his September 2009 fight against Juan Manuel Marquez and weighed in at 146, paying a US$600,000 penalty for the privilege. To ensure that didn’t happen against Pacquiao, Top Rank exacted the concession that there would be a US$10,000,000 penalty for each pound or fraction thereof that either fighter weighed over 147.

On December 7th, negotiations hit a snag. Arum, Schaefer, and HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg were scheduled to meet with Jerry Jones in Dallas the following day to tour Cowboys Stadium and give Jones the opportunity to outbid the MGM Grand (which had the support of the Las Vegas establishment) for the fight.

Jones was readying to offer a US$25,000,000 site fee. HBO estimated internally that publicity resulting from the fight being held in Dallas could engender an additional several hundred thousand pay-per-view buys.

But on the night of December 7th, Schaefer called Arum and told him to cancel the trip because he’d decided against holding the fight in Dallas. That raised numerous questions; foremost among them whether the MGM Grand (with which Golden Boy has a long term agreement) or AEG (Golden Boy’s partner) had killed the Dallas deal. It was also noted that holding the fight in Cowboys Stadium (capacity 100,000) would have enabled fans to buy tickets at reasonable prices instead of putting virtually all of the tickets in the hands of high-rollers and ticket scalpers.

Also, by ruling out Dallas during the middle of negotiations, Golden Boy deprived the promotion of additional leverage in its negotiations with the MGM Grand.

Arum called the cancellation “ruinous,” pronounced himself “embarrassed,” and declared that something was “fishy.”

Then things got worse.

With Dallas out of the mix, it was now clear that Mayweather-Pacquiao (if it occurred) would be contested in Las Vegas. But the Mayweather camp was unwilling to accept drug testing as implemented by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Team Mayweather was demanding that both fighters be subject to “Olympic-style testing” conducted by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). That would involve unlimited random urine and blood testing without advance notice from the start of training through the day of the fight.

Pacquiao has an aversion to invasive testing. Indeed, when Shelly Finkel (who now has a “strategic alliance” with Golden Boy) co-managed Manny, he once asked the Nevada State Athletic Commission to waive a required eye test because Pacquiao didn’t want to undergo the procedure in proximity to the fight. The commission refused to grant the waiver.

“You gotta understand,” Arum said, with regard to the demand for USADA testing. “I’m dealing with a Filipino fighter who is superstitious, and I have to tell him they have the power to come into his dressing room before the fight and take his blood. Manny gets freaked out when his blood gets taken and feels that it weakens him. They would put nothing in writing as to any kind of schedule. That is ludicrous.”

Pacquiao, for his part, declared, “I’m not going to let them take my blood whenever they want when I’m getting seriously ready for a fight. They can take all the urine they want.”

The ensuing days saw a series of proposals (but little real movement) from the Pacquiao side. Essentially, Manny agreed to unlimited urine tests and three blood tests to be conducted (1) in January on the day that the fight was formally announced; (2) thirty days before the fight; and (3) in Manny’s dressing room immediately after the fight. Since USADA would not administer the tests on that basis, Arum suggested that they be conducted “by any of the independent agencies that work with the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, or Major League Baseball.”

Then things went viral. The Mayweather camp had suggested all along that Pacquiao was averse to random blood tests because he had something to hide. But the suggestions had come from people whose utterances carried little weight with the mainstream media: Floyd Jr, his father, and adviser Leonard Ellerbe.

Three days before Christmas, the landscape changed. Golden Boy issued a press release under the headline, “MAYWEATHER VS PACQUIAO IN JEOPARDY AS PACQUIAO REFUSES TO COMPLY WITH UNITED STATES ANTI-DOPING DRUG TESTING PROCEDURES.”

Among the bon mots the press release offered were:

Richard Schaefer: “Team Mayweather is certainly surprised that an elite athlete like Manny Pacquiao would refuse drug testing procedures which Floyd has already agreed to and have been agreed to by many other top athletes.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr: “I understand Pacquiao not liking having his blood taken, because frankly I don’t know anyone who does. But in a fight of this magnitude, I think it is our responsibility to subject ourselves to sportsmanship at the highest level. I have already agreed to the testing, and it is a shame that he is not willing to do the same. It leaves me with great doubt as to the level of fairness I would be facing in the ring that night.”

Leonard Ellerbe: “We hope that Manny will do the right thing and agree to the testing as it is an egregious act to deny the testing and, hence, deny millions of fans the right to see this amazing fight. We just want to make sure there is a level playing field in a sport that is a man-to-man contest that relies on strength and ability.”

One day later, Oscar De La Hoya (the primary equity participant in Golden Boy) poured his own cup of poison into the brew in the form of a blog authored for The Ring Online.

“If Pacquiao, the toughest guy on the planet, is afraid of needles and having a few tablespoons of blood drawn from his system,” De La Hoya wrote, “then something is wrong. The guy has tattoos everywhere. You’re telling me he’s afraid of needles? If Pacquiao doesn’t want to do this and risks a possible $40 million payday because he’s afraid of needles or believes he’ll be weakened by blood tests, that raises question marks. Now I have to wonder about him. I’m saying to myself, ‘Wow. Those Mosley punches, those Vargas punches, and those Pacquiao punches all felt the same.’ I’m not saying yes or no [about whether Pacquiao might be taking performance-enhancing drugs]. I’m just saying that now people have to wonder: ‘Why doesn’t he want to do this? Why is it such a big deal?’ A lot of eyebrows have been raised. This is not good at all. I would say to Pacquiao, ‘Do the test. Do it because it’s only a couple of tablespoons. Needles don’t hurt. Just look away when they put the needle in your arm.’ He’ll probably lose more blood in the fight than the blood being drawn for the test. Why don’t you want to do it? C’mon. It’s only a little bit of blood. If you have nothing to hide, then do the test.”
De La Hoya’s statement was hypocritical. For starters, there was his claim that Pacquiao’s punches felt like those of Shane Mosley and Fernando Vargas (both of whom had used performance enhancing drugs prior to fighting Oscar). Yet on two prior occasions, De La Hoya had demeaned Pacquiao’s punching power. First, he’d stated, “Luckily, he doesn’t hit hard. Obviously, if he hit hard, he would have knocked me out with no problem.” Later, Oscar had maintained, “Truthfully, he didn’t hit hard. He didn’t really hurt me. But the punches were so fast and they were coming from everywhere.”

Still, after the Golden Boy press release and De La Hoya blog, the suggestion that Pacquiao was using performance enhancing drugs exploded into the mainstream media. That tarnished Manny, increased enmity between the two camps, and made the issue of drug testing harder to resolve.

Everything that followed was a sad endgame.

On December 25th, Team Pacquiao issued a statement saying that Manny intended to file a lawsuit for defamation within the next few days.

“Enough is enough,” Pacquiao was quoted as saying. “These people – Mayweather Sr, Jr, and Golden Boy Promotions – think it is a joke and a right to accuse someone wrongly of using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. I have tried to brush it off as a mere pre-fight ploy, but they have gone overboard. I have instructed my promoter, Bob Arum, to help me out in the filing of the case as soon as possible because I have had people coming over to me now, asking if I really take performance-enhancing drugs and have cheated my way into becoming the number-one boxer in the world. I maintain and assure everyone that I have not used any form or kind of steroids. My way to the top is a result of hard work, hard work, hard work, and a lot of blood spilled from my past battles in the ring, not outside of it. I have no idea what steroids look like.”

On December 26th, Pacquiao issued another statement. After restating his terms (urine tests anytime; blood tests on the three previously offered dates), he declared, “The truth is, taking blood out of my body does not seem natural to me. Mentally, I feel it will weaken me if blood is taken from me just days before the fight. To all of my fans, I want to say thank you very much for your support and understanding. I always give honor to God first. I would never cheat God; I would never cheat myself; and I would never cheat my country and my fans.”

Meanwhile, Arum was pursuing a new tack; that the entire matter should be decided by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

On December 26th, the promoter declared, “The Nevada commission is paid by the state to oversee this sort of thing. They’re the governing body. Let [the Mayweather side] make any petition it wants to the commission. If the commission wants to take blood, fine. If they go to the commission and they ask for blood tests and the commission says yes, we will do whatever the commission says. We will allow Golden Boy to present experts to the commission to explain why additional testing is required and we’ll explain our position. Then we’ll let the Nevada commission decide. If Nevada says we need to do more testing, we’ll do more. But if they don’t, we won’t. Let the commission tell us how many days in front they want blood. Let the commission pick a date to stop taking blood. If the commission says both fighters have to give blood as they’re walking into the ring, we’ll do it. But I want the commission saying it.”

In response, Schaefer declared, “It does not make sense for this to become a commission matter. This is a contractual matter. The commission did not decide the weights or the purse split or how the foreign television rights would be sold.”

That led to grumbling in some circles that Golden Boy had its own television network (HBO) and its own sanctioning body (The Ring) and now wanted to set up its own athletic commission.

But Schaefer held firm. “We are okay to move off USADA,” he said. “What is important to us is that the tests be random; that they include blood and urine; and the time frame, meaning when do you stop the tests before the fight but know they will still be effective. We have agreed on random, blood, and urine. So now it’s a matter of the two sides working out the specifics of the cutoff date to assure it will still be effective. We know that thirty days before is not effective. At thirty days, we might as well not even do it.”

Meanwhile, at Top Rank’s behest, publicist Fred Sternburg sent out a March 25, 2008, Associated Press article recounting a request by Zab Judah that Shane Mosley agree to blood testing for drugs prior to their May 31, 2008, fight (which was cancelled after Judah suffered a serious cut on his arm).

In response to Judah’s request, Schaefer (Shane’s promoter) had declared, “Mosley will agree to any tests required by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Whatever tests they want them to take, Shane will submit to that. We are not going to do other tests than the Nevada commission requires.”

That revelation was followed by a blast from Arum, who proclaimed, “Shane Mosley was an admitted drug-user. I’ve had Shane Mosley fight two of the guys that I’ve promoted in the last few years. One of them was Miguel Cotto and the other was Antonio Margarito. Did I ever ever ever even indicate in any way that Shane Mosley should be subject to special testing? No.”

“Floyd, to me, is a coward and he has always been a coward,” Arum raged. “Not a physical coward, but a coward because he’s afraid to face somebody who could beat him. And believe me, Manny Pacquiao could beat him. So he’ll go his way, we’ll go our way, and that will be fine. We’re not going to keep appeasing this guy for no damn reason, especially over something that would affect, psychologically, my fighter. We’re not going to be pushed around by this guy. We’re not going to do it.”

Asked if he thought the Mayweather camp was playing mind games, Arum declared, “Of course, they are. And they can go screw themselves. I don’t care if this fight doesn’t happen. Manny is not going to be subjected to blood-testing while he’s in training. I have never ever in all the years I have known Manny seen him so angry. He was angry, bitter, and really pissed off.”

On December 28th, Richard Schaefer launched a counter-offensive, focusing on Team Pacquiao’s claim that it would weaken Pacquiao mentally, if not physically, to have blood taken from him within thirty days of the fight.

“We have actually been able to establish that, two weeks before the Hatton fight, he [Pacquiao] had his blood taken here in Los Angeles,” Schaefer told the media.

The basis for Schaefer’s claim was footage from HBO’s Pacquiao-Hatton 24/7 series that showed blood being drawn from Pacquiao as part of a routine pre-fight medical examination.

Properly chastised, Arum said that he would consider revisiting the issue with Pacquiao. Then it was determined from a review of medical records that the blood had been taken twenty-four days prior to the fight.

Also on December 28th, the Nevada State Athletic Commission got into the act. Citing its right to require licensed boxers to submit to tests for prohibited substances, the NSAC instructed Pacquiao and Mayweather to submit urine samples within forty-eight hours or face possible fines and suspension.

When advised of the ruling, Arum declared, “That’s fine; no problem at all. We are absolutely in favor of it. I really applaud the way the Nevada commission has acted.”

Over the next two days, there were breathless “testing updates” and reports in the media of Pacquiao’s urine being transported around the world.

“A urine sample of Manny Pacquiao is on its way to Manila,” Nick Giongco wrote. “World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited doctor Alex Pineda, who also works for the Philippine Olympic Committee, personally witnessed the initial phase of testing at Pacquiao’s residence in General Santos City.”

The sample, Giongco reported, weighed 100 millilitres and had been placed in tubes labeled “A” and “B”. These tubes were to be sent “to Thailand, Malaysia, or China” because, according to Pineda, the Philippines doesn’t have a WADA-accredited testing laboratory.

On December 29th, Pacquiao issued another statement bemoaning the damage to his reputation caused by allegations that he had used illegal performance enhancing drugs. “I can’t believe these guys can lie without batting an eyelash,” Manny said. “Liars go to hell.”

On December 30th, Arum declared, “In my opinion, the fight has no chance of happening. We should go and do other things and revisit it later in the year. It’s a damn shame, but it’s out of my hands. When I think of having to share a dais with those sleazebags, Oscar and Schaefer, after what they’ve been saying about Manny, it turns my stomach.”

That same day, Pacquiao filed a defamation suit in United States District Court in Nevada against Floyd Mayweather Sr, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Roger Mayweather, Mayweather Promotions, Richard Schaefer, and Oscar De La Hoya.

On January 5th, the parties met in a last-ditch effort to resolve their differences through mediation under the guidance of Daniel Weinstein (a retired federal judge, who had successfully mediated a previous dispute between Golden Boy and Top Rank). Arum, Todd DuBoef (Arum’s stepson and the president of Top Rank), Schaefer, De La Hoya, Al Haymon (Mayweather’s manager), and legal counsel for some of the attendees were in attendance. The mediation was adjourned after nine hours.

On January 6th, the participants met again but still could not resolve their differences over the issue of drug testing. The talks collapsed. The fight was off.


What are the lessons of the Mayweather-Pacquiao debacle?

Let’s start by acknowledging that, laying aside their motives and tactics, Mayweather and Golden Boy raised a legitimate issue. Boxing has a PED problem. It’s unclear how widespread the problem is, but it’s there.

That said; the problem won’t be solved by focusing on one or two fighters. That would be like the National Football League coming up with a steroid plan to test Peyton Manning and Tom Brady but nobody else.

In essence, Golden Boy told the world that the Nevada State Athletic Commission couldn’t (or wouldn’t) test effectively for performance enhancing drugs. Golden Boy was right. That’s not a knock on the NSAC (which tests for PEDs as well as any commission). It’s a knock on the system.

Mayweather and Golden Boy were also correct in their assertion that there were loopholes in Pacquiao’s final testing offer. As Victor Conte told, “The clearance times of most of these drugs that are out there are well known. Some of these clear in a matter of hours or days. So if you know when you’re going to be tested a week out, you go off the use of oral testosterone, for example, and you’re going to test negative.”

The issue of PEDs in boxing cries out for uniform national medical standards. To make real headway, it should be a condition of granting a license in any state that a fighter can be tested for PEDs at any time. A federal boxing commission could set and enforce a uniform policy for PED testing. Conceivably, the Association of Boxing Commissions could also become constructively involved. Logistics and cost would make mandatory testing impractical on a broad scale. But unannounced spot testing could be implemented.

Unfortunately (as was the case with Major League Baseball when home run records were being shattered), most of the powers that be in boxing think the status quo is just fine. And looking at the matter realistically, what are the chances that the Nevada State Athletic Commission would cancel a megafight three or four days before the bell for round one because a participant tested positive for a banned performance enhancing drug?

Next thought –

The dialogue that unfolded with regard to PED testing was unfair to Pacquiao. Tim McKeown put it best when he wrote, “Mayweather is demanding that Pacquiao prove himself innocent of a transgression that only Mayweather and his people are alleging. I know what you’re thinking: ‘If Pacquiao doesn’t have anything to hide, why doesn’t he agree to blood testing?’ That’s become the default position in today’s society. Stop at this checkpoint; walk through this machine; hold your arms out for the wand. We’ve become so accustomed to proving our innocence in everyday life that we forgot how the system is supposed to work. This is a guy who is being accused of a crime by the other side, and he’s being called upon to prove his innocence despite the complete absence of evidence suggesting guilt.”

Okay. I know what else you’re thinking. What about the manner in which Pacquiao has moved up in weight and the extraordinary evolution of his destructiveness as a fighter?

Let’s start with weight. Between the ages of sixteen and thirty-one, Pacquiao fought at weights ranging from 106 to 144 pounds. Between the ages of sixteen and thirty-one, Mayweather fought at weights ranging from 106 to 150 pounds.

Improvement as a fighter?

“Here are some facts,” Al Bernstein recently wrote. “Manny Pacquiao is one of the hardest working and most disciplined fighters in the sport. Manny Pacquiao’s success as he moved up in weight has been fueled mostly by a change in style and tactics rather than added strength. One of the most astonishing things to me is the folks who somehow believe that all of a sudden it’s reasonable to assume that Pacquiao, above all other boxers, needs a special set of testing rules to participate in a big fight. No performance enhancing drugs can change your technique. It was not power that made the difference. The difference was speed, ring generalship, combination punching, and a vastly improved defense.”

Also; Bob Arum wasn’t blowing smoke when he said that Pacquiao is “superstitious” and that doing things a certain way is important to Manny’s state of mind.

Pacquiao is a creature of habit when it comes to pre-fight preparation. Although he boards the Team Pacquiao promotional bus for television sound bytes and occasional print interviews, he insists on traveling in his own car ahead of the bus on final pre-fight trips from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Before every fight in Las Vegas, he stays in the same suite at Mandalay Bay; prays in the same chapel; and works out in the same gym.

Be that as it may; it’s clear that events of the past two months have tarnished Pacquiao. In retrospect, Top Rank made a tactical error by publicly engaging with Golden Boy on the issue of PED testing. From a public relations point of view, Arum should have said from that start that this was a commission matter and left it at that.

Now, a sizeable number of people have heard Pacquiao’s name mentioned in the same sentence as “steroids” and “performance enhancing drugs.” They’ve been told that he “must be doing something wrong” because he’s “afraid to take the tests.”

Worse; most likely, Pacquiao will come out on the losing end of the defamation suit that he filed to clear his name.

The campaign that Golden Boy and the Mayweathers launched against Pacquiao was mean-spirited and destructive. Manny had climbed higher than Floyd in the ring; so outside the ropes, there was an effort to tear him down.

But Pacquiao is a public figure. Thus, under United States law, he must prove three things in his lawsuit in order to prevail:

(1) That the statements about him were defamatory –

Here, there’s ample evidence that Floyd Mayweather Sr and Jr accused Pacquiao of taking performance enhancing drugs. But Richard Schaefer carefully phrased his remarks to avoid direct accusations and the Golden Boy press releases were similarly worded, as was Oscar’s innuendo-laden blog.

(2) That the statements were false –

In other words, the burden will be on Pacquiao to prove a negative to the court; that he has not taken performance enhancing drugs.

(3) That the statements, if false, were made by the speaker with knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard of the truth.

Naturally, the defendants will say that they believed Pacquiao was taking PEDs and that his refusal to submit to “Olympic-style testing” fortified their belief.

Thus, when the defamation suit is over, the public is likely to have a misconceived view that a court has ruled that the attacks on Pacquiao’s integrity as an athlete were somehow justified.

Meanwhile, the furor over drug testing has obscured what some observers believe to be the essential truth about the collapse of Mayweather-Pacquiao; that Floyd didn’t want the fight.

In the past, while laying claim to greatness, Mayweather has avoided the most threatening opponents in his weight class: Paul Williams, Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley, and Miguel Cotto.

Indeed, British commentator Steve Bunce recently declared, “Floyd has ducked so many opponents that, when he opens his mouth, I expect him to quack.”

Similarly, William Dettloff writes, “If you‘re going to talk as much as Mayweather does, you simply have to fight the best guys available or you’re a fraud.”

By that standard, “Money Mayweather” is in danger of becoming known as “Phony Phloyd.”

There were times during the past month when the conduct of Team Mayweather had the look of an effort to sabotage the fight. A negotiator who wants to make a deal doesn’t go out of his way to antagonize and publicly embarrass the other side. But that’s what the Mayweathers and Golden Boy did.

Thus, Al Bernstein opines, “It seems patently obvious to me that Floyd and his minions killed the Pacquiao fight. The bottom line is that the fight was basically a done deal before they decided to inject the demands for blood testing into the picture. Pure and simple, Golden Boy and Floyd and his advisers created the problem, and it ended up killing the fight.”

Indeed, there’s a school of thought that, had Pacquiao agreed to Mayweather’s drug-testing demands, Floyd ultimately would have balked at the US$10,000,000-per-pound penalty for failing to make weight or found another way to scuttle the ship.

In any event, the war outside the ring between Mayweather and Pacquiao has hurt boxing. This was a fight that the world wanted to see; one with huge crossover potential that could have made new fans. And instead, the focus fell on an ugly dispute, reinforcing the view that boxing is dirty (i.e. the accusation that its biggest star is using illegal performance enhancing drugs).

Now boxing fans are being treated to the spectacle of Top Rank and Golden Boy threatening to mount competing pay-per-view cards on March 13th. Pacquiao will fight Joshua Clottey in Dallas on that date. Schaefer claims that Golden Boy will promote an event headed by Mayweather at the MGM Grand on the same night. Presumably, Schaefer is bluffing.

Industry insiders agree that Top Rank is far more capable of mounting a successful independent pay-per-view show than Golden Boy is. Thus, unless HBO (which has been neutral so far in this debacle) tilts toward Golden Boy, look for Schaefer to change direction. If he doesn’t, the biggest fight in years could still take place on March 13th. But instead of Mayweather-Pacquiao, it will be Arum vs. Schaefer.

A lot of people are disappointed by the way that Schaefer conducted himself over the past month. They think he’s too smart and too classy to act in that manner. Their belief is that Mayweather and Al Haymon (Floyd’s de facto manager) have been calling the shots. That view was reinforced when Schaefer told Rick Reeno of, “We have been instructed by a client, which is Mayweather and Mayweather’s management team, to ensure from the beginning that the proper test, which is blood and urine, be performed. Mayweather wants the proper test to take place. It’s as simple as that.”

But it isn’t that simple. Al Haymon might care about medical issues. But he’s also the manager who sent Lamon Brewster to Germany to fight Wladimir Klitschko when Lamon was on medical suspension in the United States. And he manages Andre Berto, who is scheduled to fight Shane Mosley in Las Vegas on January 30th.

As Kevin Iole noted, “It would stand to reason that, if Haymon were truly concerned about Berto’s physical well-being, he’d have already requested that Mosley submit to [pre-fight blood and urine] testing. Mosley, after all, actually has used steroids and other performance enhancing substances, which he testified to in the BALCO case.”

Then again, maybe Schaefer (working in collaboration with Haymon) was open to the idea of burying Mayweather-Pacquiao. That way, Golden Boy can put Floyd in against one of its own fighters (like Mosley, if Shane gets by Berto on January 30th).

Are the thoughts expressed in the preceding paragraphs unfair to Schaefer? If so, he can prove them wrong.

Golden Boy can take the lead on the issue of PEDs in boxing and become a beacon of integrity by requiring its fighters to submit to Olympic-style drug testing before each major fight. And in order to fight on a Golden Boy card (remember; Golden Boy has a lot of dates on HBO), it could require opponents to do the same.

In fact, Golden Boy could start by testing Shane Mosley to protect Shane from unknowingly using PEDs again. It’s interesting how Shane looked very old when he fought Ricardo Mayorga in 2008 and then improved with age when he fought Antonio Margarito in 2009.

And speaking of age; let’s have a round of applause for another Golden Boy fighter; Bernard Hopkins. People talk a lot about what great shape Bernard is in and how remarkable it is that a fighter well into his forties can perform the way he does.

I consider Hopkins a great fighter. Other fighters have moved up in weight and excelled in the manner of Manny Pacquiao. But there is no precedent for a fighter performing as agelessly as Bernard has. I’m aware of no proof whatsoever that Hopkins has used illegal performance enhancing drugs at any time in his career. Of course, to my knowledge, Bernard hasn’t undergone USADA testing.

WBA heavyweight champion David Haye is another Golden Boy fighter. David was a cruiserweight less than two years ago. His body has filled out nicely since then. Very nicely. Now Haye wants to fight Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko. Vitali tested positive for a banned substance while training for the 1996 Olympics and was removed from the Ukrainian national team. He later acknowledged using steroids, saying that he had done so after aggravating an old leg injury previously sustained during a kick-boxing bout. Wladimir’s body is even more imposing than Vitali’s.

If Haye fights one of the Klitschko brothers, a Golden Boy-implemented USADA-like testing plan would assure the world that everything is on the up and up.

Will Golden Boy take the lead in across-the-board PED testing?

My guess is that there’s a better chance of Tiger Woods becoming Pope.

But there is something very simple that Golden Boy can do to set an example. It involves the Golden Boy himself.

Oscar De La Hoya can show the world how a righteous PED-free fighter acts. In order to fully inform the public on the issues involved (and remove any hint of suspicion that he himself might not have clean hands) Oscar should waive his right to confidentiality and authorize the Nevada State Athletic Commission to release the results of any tests for performance enhancing drugs that he has taken in the past. The same waiver should authorize all present and past NSAC personnel and any other person with knowledge of the situation to discuss the test results with any media representative who inquires about them.

I’m not talking about Lidocaine (which Oscar acknowledges having taken when he suffered a cut prior to his 2004 fight against Bernard Hopkins). Nor am I talking about creatine (which Lem Satterfield, then of the Baltimore Sun, authoritatively reported that Oscar incorporated into his training regimen in 1999 when he was preparing to fight Felix Trinidad).

I’m talking about the possibility of something more.

Let me even suggest wording for the waiver that Oscar can make public and send to the Nevada State Athletic Commission:

“I, Oscar De La Hoya, hereby waive all right of confidentiality with regard to the past testing of my blood and urine for steroids and other performance enhancing drugs conducted by or on behalf of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. In that regard, I also authorize all present and past Nevada State Athletic Commission personnel and any other person with knowledge of the situation to speak openly with the media about such testing.”

To paraphrase: “C’mon, Oscar. If you have nothing to hide, then do it. It’s only a piece a paper. Just sign the waiver.”

Thomas Hauser can be reached by e-mail at His most recent book (“An Unforgiving Sport”) was published by the University of Arkansas Press.
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