As social media once again fills itself with memes and tired jokes of ‘pregnancy tests’ relating human pharmacy, Jarrell Miller, it’s time to consider the wider implications of drug testing within boxing…
Yes – We know it’s not tennis or cycling. The effects of performance enhancing drugs could potentially have devastating consequences. Yet, time and time again, we are given mixed messages over whose responsibility it is to complete testing, the cost implications and the seemingly flexible narrative that it’s only for the ‘big fights’.
Yes – We are willing to accept that in some instances, fighters will ingest substances indirectly or innocently, but where do we draw the line? Why do we accept that Canelo Alvarez, a man worth of HUNDREDS of millions of dollars, could have eaten tainted beef from Mexico? How does a long-reigning world champion such as Billy Joe Saunders confuse the prohibited medication issued from the state he is fighting in? It doesn’t matter if it’s cleared by the British Boxing Board of Control, mate. You weren’t fighting in Britain. It has to be that simple, surely?
With Anthony Joshua left high and dry at time of writing, Dave Allen and Lucas Browne [two-time previous offender] headlining The O2 this evening after admitting they have been tested a grand total of zero times and controversy surrounding other combat sports, surely blaming the financial implication furthers the ‘greedy promotor’ stereotype that names such as Eddie Hearn are keen to avoid.
Of course, rigorous anti-doping testing would add to your expenses as a promoter, but unless something is done to proactively avoid cheating athletes flying under the radar, are we essentially allowing potential tragedies to occur because fighters aren’t high-profile enough? That seems off, to me. In a sport where the towel can be thrown in for your fighter’s safety, a bout can be stopped with both men on the feet and an athlete can retire on his stool, we allow young men and women to throw themselves into the unknown.
If you listen to the whispers that frequent podcasts, websites or conversations at boxing events, you’ll be no stranger to performance enhancing drugs. Most believe that a high percentage of fighters are using PEDs of some sort, as it reaches a stage of epidemic. But, with costs reportedly at $30,000 per fight, it’s simply not sustainable for each-and-every card. My question would be this; If every commission or promotional company was utilising testing agencies such as VADA, wouldn’t they be able to lower costs or offer packaged pricing, as they would surely be bringing far more revenue through their squeaky clean doors?
Jarrell Miller fiercely denied cheating when his first positive test was returned for the metabolic modulator, yet crumbled and confessed to ‘messing up’ when his SECOND failed test was returned just a day later. Praising him for his honesty is laughable. Thanking him for owning up to his mistakes is unjustified, because prior to his second test being returned (steaming hot!), he was being carried on a cloud of delusion and denial. Maybe it was accidental. It could have been a supplement, or a meal served up from those naughty South American chefs! He is a deliberate offender, endangering the lives of formerly-retired Tomasz Adamek and Bogdan Dinu, who should never have been in the ring with him, whether clean or otherwise.
No – Names such as Dave Allen or Josh Kelly shouldn’t have to walk blindly into contests against potential steroid users. It belittles their careers to assume that because they don’t currently hold various world titles that they don’t deserve the precautions afforded to the sport’s commercial superstars.
If something was to happen to Andy Townend (fighting Joe Cordina and used purely as a random example), would Matchroom and those involved in the bout feel comfortable over their financial margins when looking themselves in the mirror? It doesn’t seem right. The cost of testing for PEDs seems extremely high, so from a business stand-point, I understand the decision to focus on testing for money-spinning clashes. But something must be done.
No – Just because Jarrell Miller has held his hands up after a second failed test for the same contest, doesn’t mean we can afford him a third or fourth chance at cracking the sport. There are people out there working ten-hour shifts, then racing to the gym, then trying to fit time in with their own young children – those fighters will never come close to a six figure payday, let alone the seven figure windfall that ‘Big Baby’ has just thrown away.
VADA publish their list of prohibited substances on their website. It’s a ten-page document which I’ve just perused before writing and it’s very comprehensive. If you didn’t know it was banned, you didn’t check or you didn’t care – it has to be as simple as that. The fight game isn’t shouting at an umpire or demanding video replays. It’s over in the blink of an eye. The brain is shaken with every padded punch and though boxers may last the distance, to complete twelve rounds against a man with increased power or durability can decrease the time you have left.
Article by: Craig Scott
Follow Craig on Twitter at: @craigscott209