Nonito Donaire and Why Boxing Needs to Adopt VADA Drug Testing Immediately

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Nonito Donaire and Why Boxing Needs to Adopt VADA Drug Testing Immediately
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Donaire is the gold standard for drug testing in boxing.

Nonito Donaire won more than a fight this past weekend; he also showed his commitment to performing at a high level and doing it the right way.

Coming into his fight this past weekend with Mexican warrior Jorge Arce, the Filipino sensation and WBO junior featherweight champion announced his participation in the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) testing protocol.

Donaire, who came under scrutiny for his relationship with Victor Conte of BALCO fame, stated he did it to show his fans and the boxing community he is a clean fighter.

He never tested positive, and decided to get out in front and go the extra mile to prove his achievements are the result of skill and not chemical enhancement. For this he deserves credit, and one can hope he'll serve as an example to other fighters.

But to think that he can do it alone is naive. 

It's time for VADA to adopted nationwide for all fights and it's incumbent on the sanctioning bodies—the IBF, WBC, WBA and WBO—to make this happen before someone gets hurt, or worse.

By imposing these standards, the sanctioning bodies will be sending a very strong message—if you want to compete for titles and make big money, you must prove you're clean.

This topic, which has already caused reckonings in sports such as baseball and football, takes on a special urgency in boxing that it doesn't in the others.

In baseball, steroids can speed up your reflexes and cause you to hit the ball harder or farther. They can help you recover faster and add a few more miles of extra zip to your fastball.

In boxing, the extra power or speed of a punch can end a career or even a life. 

In a year where several prominent fighters, including Lamont Peterson, Andre Berto and Antonio Tarver have tested positive for banned substances, it's time to get serious.

Many have argued that this represents just the tip of the iceberg as steroid testing is notoriously easy to beat and many states don't even require stringent drug testing.

Even a state like Nevada, which hosts several high-profile fights each year, has a very limited testing program that informs fighters in advance when they will be tested, and doesn't require testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) or synthetic testosterone.

And these are among the toughest standards in the nation.

This type of model, which is the antithesis of VADA, makes testing a joke and easy to beat. 

VADA on the other hand relies on random testing, which can be conducted anytime in the eight weeks prior to a bout at their discretion, and immediately releases results upon their completion.

Current drug testing usually consists of just a pre- and post-fight urine test, and results are often not seen for weeks.

There have been examples of fighters who tested positive before a fight and were allowed to compete because their second round of testing wasn't done in time.

With VADA, the test results are complete, sanctioning bodies and state athletic commissions are informed immediately and decisions can be made. 

No more wait-and-see attitudes about whether a fighter is walking into the ring with an illegal and perhaps dangerous advantage.

Nonito Donaire has taken a very important first step in this process. But no fighter, even one as good and popular as the Filipino Flash, can do it on his own.

It's sad that we've come to a point of guilty until proven innocent. But while this may leave a bad taste in some people's mouths, it reflects the reality of the situation.

Steroids and other PED's have no place in boxing. You don't just cheat the sport and your opponents when you use them, you put lives on the line.

The sanctioning bodies need to jump in on this and do something they rarely do—lead.

They are the only organizations, short of any sort of national boxing authority, with the power to make this change and make it stick.

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