Is USADA Tipping The Odds In Boxing?
There are no more conflicted sports than boxing, Promoters cut their own deals, manage fighters on both sides of the card, control purses and rarely do the boxers themselves, other than the biggest stars, get their fair shake on the business side. One of those exceptions is Floyd Mayweather Jr. who will fight Andre Berto this Saturday in Las Vegas in what will be another solid payday despite lackluster overall interest in the fight. However big names still bring big dollars on the gambling side, and the sportsbooks in Las Vegas should make a nice bit of change as the champ steps into the ring on a weekend when football is back as well.
However as the fight comes about, another conflicted and dark cloud appears to be rising over boxing, the work that the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) is or isn’t doing to test for PED’s, and then how that process is being conveyed in and around fights to the public.
Longtime boxing writer Thomas Hauser takes USADA to task in a lengthy story on SB Nation this week (seen here : http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2015/9/9/9271811/can-boxing-trust-usada , detailing how before the May 2 fight against Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather didn’t comply with World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines, and received a retroactive exemption for the IVs from the USADA almost three weeks after the fight.
For 20 days after the IV was administered, USADA chose not to notify the NSAC about the procedure. Finally, on May 21, USADA sent a letter to Bennett and NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar, with a copy to Top Rank (Pacquiao’s promoter), informing them that a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE) had been granted to Mayweather, who didn’t apply for the TUE until 18 days after his fight against Pacquiao. The issue is less with Mayweather, and more with USADA, who in many instances, the latest being with the UFC, where they are paid to work for the governing body and potentially for the promoter, which creates massive conflicts as to how things are actually being governed and communicated to the public.
From a gambling standpoint the use of PED’s and the lack of clarity can cloud the odds for a fight, and creates the air of impropriety around a sport that is already shaded in mystery and innuendo. The debate about USADA’s practices is certainly not going to go away, and will be amplified even more in the coming weeks with the release of “DOPED: The Dirty Side of Sports,“ which will debut on the premium channel EPIX on September 30 at 8:00 pm. Produced by Andrew Muscato and Bobby Valentine, the film takes a longer look into the issues in and around the Anti-Doping business, with Hauser and others, including former champion Paulie Malignaggi, laying out there issues with doping, clarity of testing and conflict of interest in boxing, while other loud voices in the field speak to issues on the Olympic level and in sports like baseball.
Is the current USADA problem something which can be cleared up, or will it continue to drag boxing back into cloudy waters. While big fights like this weekend’s will draw eyeballs and gamblers, the issue of fight fixing, or insider information when it comes to injury and PED’s, is something that speaks to a larger issue in sport; namely who is monitoring the monitors?