After all the public and private allegations about Manny Pacquiao's performance-enhancing drug use, it appears it was actually Floyd Mayweather Jr. who may have been doping prior to their May bout.
As highlighted in an expansive profile of boxing's PED issues, Thomas Hauser of SB Nation reported Mayweather received an illegal IV prior to the fight to help with dehydration. The report states United States Anti-Doping Agency agents found evidence of Mayweather using an IV on Friday, May 2, after weigh-ins, though the details behind the findings are still unclear.
What is clear, however, is that Mayweather would be in violation of World Anti-Doping Agency regulations, which do not allow for fighters to receive IV injections. Such injections could be used to mask other banned substances, such as performance-enhancing drugs.
Hauser reports Mayweather received an exception from the USADA, but his camp did not apply for the waiver until 18 days after the fight. That would mean it was neither in place nor applied for when Mayweather defeated Pacquiao via unanimous decision in one of the biggest bouts in boxing history.
This report runs contrary to Mayweather's reputation as a clean fighter, and Hauser's piece details the cozy relationship between Mayweather Promotions and the USADA. Unlike public proclamations to the contrary, Mayweather doesn't seem subject to true 365-day testing. His camp and the USADA allegedly come together before his fights and begin random testing programs at Mayweather's discretion.
Mayweather denied the allegations against him in a statement on Sept. 10, via BoxMadMagazine.com:
As already confirmed by the USADA Statement, I did not commit any violations of the Nevada or USADA drug testing guidelines. I follow and have always followed the rules of Nevada and USADA, the gold standard of drug testing.
Let’s not forget that I was the one six years ago who insisted on elevating the level of drug testing for all my fights. As a result, there is more drug testing and awareness of its importance in the sport of boxing today than ever before.
I am very proud to be a clean athlete and will continue to champion the cause.
The USADA also denied the report in a statement on Thursday:
Although the articles in question contain a multitude of errors, all of which will be addressed at the appropriate time, we believe it is important to immediately correct the record regarding the false suggestion that Floyd Mayweather violated the rules by receiving an IV infusion of saline and vitamins.
As was already publicly reported in May of this year by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), Mr. Mayweather applied for and was granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) by USADA for an IV infusion of saline and vitamins that was administered prior to his May 2 fight against Manny Pacquiao. Mr. Mayweather’s use of the IV was not prohibited under the NSAC rules at that time and would not be a violation of the NSAC rules today. Nonetheless, because Mr. Mayweather was voluntarily taking part in a USADA program, and therefore subject to the rules of the WADA Code, he took the additional step of applying for a TUE after the IV infusion was administered in order remain in compliance with the USADA program. Although Mr. Mayweather’s application was not approved until after his fight with Mr. Pacquiao and all tests results were reported, Mr. Mayweather did disclose the infusion to USADA in advance of the IV being administered to him. Furthermore, once the TUE was granted, the NSAC and Mr. Pacquiao were immediately notified even though the practice is not prohibited under NSAC rules.
However, Hauser responded to the denials with his own rebuttal, defending his story, via BoxingScene.com:
No amount of self-serving rhetoric from USADA can change the following unrebutted facts:
(1) The IV was administered at Floyd Mayweather’s home after the weigh-in on May 1. USADA learned about the IV on that date.
(2) The 2015 WADA “Prohibited Substances and Methods List” states, “Intravenous infusions and/or injections of more than 50 ml per 6 hour period are prohibited except for those legitimately received in the course of hospital admissions, surgical procedures, or clinical investigations.”
(3) The above-referenced prohibition is in effect at all times that the athlete is subject to testing. It exists because, in addition to being administered for the purpose of adding specific substances to a person’s body, an IV infusion can dilute or mask the presence of another substance that is already in the recipient’s system or might be added to it in the near future.
(4) Mayweather-Pacquiao was contested on May 2.
(5) Mayweather applied for a therapeutic use exemption on May 19 (seventeen days after the fight).
(6) USADA granted the therapeutic use exemption on May 20 (eighteen days after the fight).
(7) USADA did not notify the Nevada State Athletic Commission about the IV until May 21 (nineteen days after the fight).
Meanwhile, on May 2 (fight night), Manny Pacquiao’s request to be injected with Toradol (a legal substance) to ease the pain caused by a torn rotator cuff was denied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission because the request was not made in a timely manner.
It would be helpful if Travis Tygart or his spokesperson answered the following questions directly:
(1) What was the medical justification and supporting data that led to USADA granting the therapeutic use exemption for an otherwise prohibited IV procedure?
(2) On how many occasions has the “A” sample of a professional boxer tested by USADA come back positive for a prohibited substance?
(3) What was the testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio for each urine test administered to Floyd Mayweather by USADA for each of his fights beginning with Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley up to and including Mayweather vs. Andre Berto?
(4) Does USADA still maintain that it handled the Erik Morales matter correctly?
Hauser provided analysis from Victor Conte—the ringleader of the famous BALCO scandal and now an advocate for stricter testing:
The benefits that an athlete retains from using anabolic steroids and certain other PEDs carry over for months. Anybody who knows anything about the way these drugs work knows that you don’t perform at your best when you’re actually on the drugs. You get maximum benefit after the use stops. I can’t tell you what Floyd Mayweather is and isn’t doing. What he could be doing is this. The fight is over. First, he uses these drugs for tissue repair. Then he can stay on them until he announces his next fight, at which time he’s the one who decides when the next round of testing starts. And by the time testing starts, the drugs have cleared his system.
Interestingly, Pacquiao's camp had suggested a $5 million fine if either fighter tested positive for PEDs. Mayweather's camp declined—a surprise given the very public accusations hurled Pacquiao's way.
Pacquiao responded to the report on Sept. 10, saying: "Truth finally came out and I was vindicated,” via ABS-CBN’s Francis Canlas. “[The] Mayweather camp used to accused me of using PED. Now, look at what happened.”
With Mayweather gearing up for what could be his final bout Saturday against Andre Berto, this is the exact type of distraction he doesn't need as he attempts to match Rocky Marciano's 49-0 record.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.