Manny Pacquiao and Other Boxers Accused of Using Steroids
I'm aware Marion Jones sailed through 160 tests without a hitch yet was doping the whole time.
But everyone can just relax about steroids. I'm serious; there's absolutely nothing to worry about.
Haven't you heard? Our greatest champion for truth is on the case. Oh, even better, he's been on it for four years now. I'm sorry the news didn't reach you sooner. Is he reliable? Can you trust his integrity? What are his credentials? Please. That's all been taken care of.
Well maybe this will clear things up: he's not just our greatest champion. He's God's champion. Just ask Evander Holyfield if you don't believe me (or watch him evade any post-fight interview question and lapse his way into a belligerent rant about Jesus). His word is more than enough for me to push my chips in.
Think Atticus Finch on moral HGH, Agoviron, Dianabol, Testosterone Enanthate, Deca-Durabolin, H.C.G., Masteron, Nolvadex, Cytomel, L-Thyroxine, Testosterone Propionate, T3, etc...
Don't you feel better now knowing the formerly contentious issue polluting the pure-as-freshly-driven-snow heart of sports has been solved? Thank the "Real Deal."
COMPLETELY INNOCENT and Guilty: Holyfield, Tommy Morrison, Shane Mosley
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Along with Orenthal James Simpson's unbearably inspiring quest for justice on golf courses across Florida (or any other state where he doesn't have to repay that evil civil suit he lost and has to pay damages for), another valiant knight is galloping off toward truth, vindication in clearing his name and solving Floyd fighting Pacquiao––apparently by siring one illegitimate child after another (I'm not aware of twins as yet).
Phew, I thought we were in serious trouble.
Put your faith in the "Real Deal."
It is fascinating to look at what Holyfield said after these grossly false accusations came his way and put more lives in jeopardy via "natural disasters" (translation: God's wrath):
"What is it gonna do for me to get on steroids? Enhance me to do what?" Evander Holyfield responded to reports.
I'm guessing longer, more intense workouts promoting muscle gain never sprung to mind (especially for an ambitious cruiserweight looking to step up to the heavyweight division). Ditto improved recovery, increased strength, explosiveness or the psychological edge in preparation and performance knowing you're jacked up on enough product to supply toupees to the hair club for men simply from the overgrowth of your back hair.
But what are we to make of the admitted or caught cheaters in the sport? Tommy Morrison and Shane Mosley have both admitted to taking PEDs to assist them in harming other boxers. Think how Margarito gained an edge with those hand wraps over Cotto and the lasting damage to his career and life as a result? What if he'd killed or crippled him in the ring? What if the cumulative damage from that fight will remove otherwise healthy years of thought from Cotto's life and relegate his family to caretakers of a feeble old man?
This is the glaring distinction between PEDs in boxing and other sports. An unearned advantage in boxing can literally mean the difference between life and death during a contest, yet most likely the impact will be felt long after the final bell has wrung. It's something we can't forget when we think about cheaters in the sport trying to maximize their earning power or potential at the expense of not just fairness, but someone and their entire's family's well-being and life.
Put it this way: how many of the cheaters in other sports, once they'd cashed in on cheating and finally came out with their use due to being caught or trying to rehabilitate their image to regain employment somewhere (Mark McGwire), mentioned only using steroids once? Or even just a few times? Or even just for a few months?
McGwire admitted to using on and off throughout the 1990s. You only have to look at the photos of these athletes while they admitted to using and compare it with other periods of their career to have an idea when they were juicing or not. Look at before and after photos of Sammy Sosa or Bonds or Ed Norton from American History X compared with any other point of his life.
What harm was there to Shane Mosley for doping? Did he have to give away all that money he earned while fighting doped or ask forgiveness from the boxers who beat while on the juice? Hardly.
Tommy Morrison was a wrecking ball in the heavyweight division when he landed his punches. He admitted to extensively cheating with PEDs. What recourse do the boxers who he might have lost to have to reclaim what he cheated his way to taking from them?
Caught: Fernando Vargas, Roy Jones Jr., Vitali Klitschko
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Roy Jones Jr. claimed his positive test was the result of Ripped Fuel. He tested positive for the testosterone precursor androstenedione. Given how little boxing has historically tested for PEDs, does this suggest Jones consistently cheated yet got away with it? Perhaps.
The toll training takes on a fighter's body is among the most brutal in all of sports. It's commonly held that boxers are some of the most well-conditioned athletes there are. Any time steroids have been mentioned in boxing, far too many people step up to say that steroids wouldn't really serve a boxer. Where is the logic in this? Steroids help everything in terms of performance. You're bigger, stronger, faster, and you can work harder and recover better than someone not on them. Plus you're well aware of this advantage and find some relief in it as you work and step into the ring.
For his fight against Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas looked like an entirely different human being. Vargas had never been able to put on lean muscle. Vargas had never looked ripped ever. Suddenly he looked robotic. What happened here? He blamed his nutritionist in a statement. Really?
Steroids have rarely if ever dogged Vitali Klitschko's career, despite him admitting use. Why is this? Why does Bonds get savaged by the media yet Klitschko basically gets to walk?
Another puzzling question: for someone with Vitali's size and skills and intelligence (isn't his Ph.D in Sports Sciences after all?), what's the motivation for him to cheat? Doesn't he bring enough to the table as he is, being a giant powerhouse of a boxer with formidable skills? Nature has already endowed him with freakish gifts, why isn't it enough?
Caught: James Toney, Frans Botha, Orlando Salido, Richard Hall
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For James Toney it's at least easier to understand the allure of PEDs. Despite all the talent in the world, his physical attributes were only a minor part of his success. What physical attributes he possessed were further eroded by an unparalleled lack of dedication to the sport in terms of preparation and clean living. PEDs would offer Toney an enormous short cut to getting in shape (or whatever word applies in his case) and recovering from injuries.
Also, Toney suffered only minor repercussions for cheating. He knew full well he wasn't in the same situation as, say, a Ben Johnson with Olympic standards (albeit questionable standards, Carl Lewis was also caught cheating prior to the Olympics himself, along with several other US sprinters).
Frans Botha, Orlando Salido and Roy Jones Jr.'s former opponent Richard Hall all tested positive for banned substances also.
Major fallout in any of those cases? Barely. Quickly forgotten. Swept under the rug.
Suspected: Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, Mike Tyson
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Freddie Roach has emphatically denied Pacquiao's use of PEDs. He's denied it on and off the record. He did smile when I asked the same question about Tyson, pointing to his own head and mentioning Tyson's noticeable loss of patch of hair back in the late '80s. In books about Tyson, this had been written off as "stress" going on behind the scenes.
But Roach went on to say that Pacquiao had struggled for some time making weight in the lower weight classes. Roach said being hungry before fights was one of the only times Pacquiao was noticeably in a bad mood.
Having spent a week in Dallas covering Rigondeaux's fight on Pac's undercard back in November of 2010, and being around Pac now and then in LA while he trains, he appears to be the most serene human being who ever lived. If you're convinced Pacquiao has been on steroids this whole time, I want you to start petitioning anyone you know about Pac being a poster boy for 'roid rage and see where it gets you.
Look at the man's song selection at karaoke. Raging adult-contemporary. Right.
Some point to Pacquiao moving up in weight and not only maintaining his punching power, but having it escalate. Highly reasonable point. They point to other fighters who moved up in weight and discovered the opposite results to Manny's. Seems suspicious.
I'm inclined to disagree with that assessment proving anything in Pacquiao's case. Manny's speed has led to punches like the one he landed against Hatten. A punch of far less power, given the placement of that blow (and Hatton not seeing it coming), would knock a man down even if he were 30 pounds heavier. I see no evidence that Manny is a stronger puncher. I see clear evidence his energy and speed are allowing him to land more, including power shots with great accuracy.
Amir Khan has entered the fray of steroid accusations. For his last fight against Zab Judah his back did seem enormous. It's suspicious on this level: Khan has always been a hard worker; he's always in shape; he's had the same strength and conditioning coach for a while. So what accounts for his size, at 24, suddenly taking a dramatically different shape? I can see that leading to questions. Then there's his association with Roach's other star pupil, Pacquiao.
It's hard to say where to go with speculation. Often the finest athletes became the finest athletes because of a drive that can easily lead them down a path of cheating. Barry Bonds had arguably the greatest season of his career prior to juicing. What he was lacking was the attention drawn by Sosa and McGwire. He felt superior to both athletes and that only the drugs were allowing them to perform at such a level. He juiced and exceeded anything Sosa or McGwire achieved.
Could that happen with dominant boxers also? There's no reason not to think so, which is a fascinating element to the steroid mess. It's not just the mediocres with the real incentive to juice, it's far more lucrative for elites. They already have the tool kit to dominate. PEDs only separate them even further from the rest of their competition.