Juan Manuel Marquez PED Talk Should Stop Without Evidence

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2012

Without evidence those accusing Juan Manuel Marquez of PED use are playing a dangerous game.
Without evidence those accusing Juan Manuel Marquez of PED use are playing a dangerous game.Al Bello/Getty Images

Let's get a few crucial points out right up front. 

Performance enhancing drugs have no place in any sport, particularly the combat sports such as boxing and MMA where lives are on the line. Those caught using in these sports should be punished severely. 

We should all strive—fans, media, athletes and owners—to do everything possible to ensure competition is fair and nobody holds an unfair advantage.

But at the same time we must guard ourselves against accusing, trying and even convicting athletes in the court of public opinion without proper evidence. 

The latest victim of this phenomenon is boxing world champion Juan Manuel Marquez, who has had not just his knockout win over Manny Pacquiao, but his integrity as well, called into question. 

Allow me to be clear. I'm not insinuating that Marquez did, or didn't come into the ring with any unfair advantages. The only point being made here is that we need to be careful about throwing out accusations and insinuations without evidence.

If that evidence does eventually come to light, then Marquez deserves all the consequences. But that has not happened yet and until it does we need to relax.

The extent of the evidence against Marquez boils down to two points, neither of which are on their own convincing, and don't pass even the most fundamental of evidentiary tests. Marquez's association with strength and conditioning coach Angel Heredia is something that certainly has raised more than a few eyebrows. In fact it makes up virtually the entire case against Marquez for his supposed PED use.

Heredia is best known for his role in the BALCO scandal, which blew the lid off of PED usage in American sports in 2003.

An admitted steroid pusher, Heredia turned federal witness and testified in court against higher-up's in the company about their role in supplying PED's to athletes. 

Marquez and Heredia have vehemently denied any wrongdoing and have openly stated their willingness for the fighter to be tested at any time.

On its face this relationship appears troubling and, while not providing anything close to actual evidence, certainly leads to speculation.

But those same people who are blasting their trumpets on the hills today, calling into question Marquez's integrity and making thinly veiled insinuations, were eerily silent when Heredia was first hired.

After-all, this isn't his first rodeo with Marquez. He was originally hired to prepare the Mexican fighter for his third bout with Pacquiao which took place in November of last year. 

There were some people who prominently questioned the relationship at the time. But the chorus quickly died down when Marquez lost another close, controversial decision. 

And those same people would be just as silent today if the result had been the same this past weekend. It is Marquez's victory that suddenly brings these questions to the forefront. 

That is troubling in and of itself. 

The second part of the argument falls into a familiar, and unfortunately, predictable line of sports reasoning. 

Something just didn't look right.

Marquez was too big, too muscular and never before in his life had he landed a punch the caliber of the one that felled Pacquiao. 

But Marquez is a notorious workhouse both inside and outside of the boxing ring. His extreme training regimen and commitment to maintaining his peak physical condition are well-known. 

It's understandable that it's a lot easier to connect the two dots between the fighter's association with Heredia and seeming sudden muscle gains and point them towards something improper. 

But having a feeling is not the same as having evidence. And to act as if it is discredits more than the sport and the fighter.

Boxing is an extremely hard sport to predict. You scour the records of even the greatest fights in history and find shocking, improbable and utterly unpredictable results.

Sometimes a fighter just lands that "one big shot" that we always talk about. And that's just what Juan Manuel Marquez did.

He landed a punch that was short, compact and landed square on the button. The force of that punch at that range was enough to fell a tree.

Any fighter—Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward, Sergio Martinez—would go down from that type of punch. 

And barring only further evidence to the contrary all Juan Manuel Marquez is guilty of doing is landing the home run shot.