THURSDAY, Sept. 17 Update: USADA has fired a combination, a 25 pager, back at writer Thomas Hauser.
“On September 9, 2015, SB Nation posted an article written by Mr. Thomas Hauser that contained no less than 40 inaccurate facts and misleading statements, as well as quotes from un-named, un-informed or self-interested sources about USADA and our role in anti-doping in the sport of professional boxing,” reads the intro to their counter-punch, found on their website.
“In order to provide truthful and accurate facts, and to stop the perpetuation of further rumors, speculation and false information, USADA has provided a detailed 25 page fact correction of the full article which can be found HERE.”
Then, a couple hours later, this, from TSS' Hauser:
Statement of Thomas Hauser with Regard to the
September 17, 2015, Comments by USADA
USADA’s response is long on verbiage and short on documented facts. I intend to write another longform article on this subject at some point in the future. For now, I note the following:
(1) The USADA statement goes to great lengths to discredit Victor Conte, attacking him on three separate occasions for past misdeeds (which I referenced in “Can Boxing Trust USADA?”). USADA also states that I “cherry picked Jeff Novitzky’s response to questions posed to him by Mr. Rogan regarding Victor Conte.”
Mr. Novitzky’s remarks came in an interview conducted by Joe Rogan last month (The Joe Rogan Experience #685). In that interview, Mr. Rogan and Mr. Novitzky also discussed IVs. Let’s pick a whole barrel of cherries:
Joe Rogan: “What’s the reason why they can’t use an IV? Is it to mask possible performance enhancing drugs?”
Jeff Novitzsky: “That’s the primary reason. I saw it up front and center in cycling. They were using IVs of saline solution to manipulate their blood level readings, which were being used to determine if they were blood doping. It could also be used to flush a system. It dilutes blood and urine so that natural steroid profiles are very hard to read after you’ve taken an IV bag. That’s the primary reason. WADA also prohibits them for some health reasons. When an IV is administered, especially close to a competition, there’s a possibility of blowing out a vein or having clotting after the IV is taken out. There could be some issues with edema and swelling. If the idea is to rehydrate, it’s much safer to do it orally. Studies show that orally rehydrating is better for you if you’re mildly dehydrated. There’s two things that they show consistently. Number one, it’s obviously safer to put something through your mouth than put it in a needle in your vein. Number two, your perceived rate of exertion, how hard you feel you’re working after rehydrating orally, is less than if you rehydrate via IV. If you rehydrate orally properly, the next day you’re going to feel a whole lot better when you’re exerting yourself.”
“Now that’s mild dehydration,” Novitzky added. As for extreme dehydration, Novitzky suggested, “You probably should go to a hospital. [And] I think you need to notify the commission where you’re fighting.”
If Floyd Mayweather was dehydrated after the May 1 weigh-in, the USADA doping control officer could have given him several glasses of water. USADA has yet to explain the medical justification and supporting data that led it to grant a retroactive therapeutic use exemption nineteen days after the fact for a procedure that's on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s “Prohibited Substances and Methods List”.
(2) Most of the public attention regarding “Can Boxing Trust USADA?” has focussed on the IV that was administered to Floyd Mayweather one day before his fight against Manny Pacquiao. However, the article also references the two testosterone-to-epitestosterone-ratio test results regarding Mr. Mayweather that were made available to this writer. It would be instructive if Mr. Mayweather granted a waiver to USADA allowing it to release the testosterone-to-epitestosterone-ratio test results for each urine test administered to him by USADA for each of his fights beginning with Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley up to and including Mayweather vs. Andre Berto. 3) The issues involved here go far beyond Floyd Mayweather. In that regard, I note that USADA’s contention that it advised the New York State Athletic Commission on October 17, 2012, concerning Erik Morales testing positive for Clenbuterol is rebutted by the statement of Laz Benitez (a spokesperson for the New York State Department of State, which oversees the NYSAC). On August 10, 2015, Mr. Benitez advised in writing, “There is no indication in the Commission’s files that it was notified of this matter prior to October 18, 2012.”
FRIDAY, Sept. 11 AM UPDATE: Manny Pacquiao, who himself has been under a spotlight, a big one held up by Floyd “Take The Test” Mayweather, reacted to the Thomas Hauser story. “Truth finally came out and I was vindicated,” he told Abac Cordero of The Phillipine Star. “mayweather camp used to accuse me of using PED, now look what happened. I hope Floyd Mayweather would learn a lesson out of it.”
It is no secret in certain circles, many of them public, as people like Paul Malignaggi have been vocal about their suspicions of the Pacquiao power surge in later years, and then dropoff, that some presume Manny used.
Floyd himself toyed with the issue before they fought, needling–pun intended, I suppose–Team Pacquiao by pointing to ex strength and conditioning man Alex Ariza as an integral part of Manny's success. This was in the context of Pacman trainer Freddie Roach having accused Ariza of giving his guy “shady” drinks with undisclosed chemicals in them when he was with the Congressman.
Mud is still being slung, friends. No surprise, there is immense money, and pride, and legacies at stake here.
ALSO: Sides are being taken, and the messenger, Hauser, is being fired upon. Kill the messenger if the message is disagreeable, a time honored if not honorable tradition.
The catalyst for that can be varied; some writers, I think, like their Floyd access and are sucking up.
Others, I've seen this from a couple “young guns,” might be suffering from envy issues. Rather than choosing to primarily parse the material, and ponder what it truly means IF the sport's marquee star, a vocal anti-PED activist, has in fact used PEDs, some are choosing to focus on what they perceive as a journalistic misstep. They say that Hauser is biased, being that he works for HBO. And he didn't disclose that, they rail. To the contrary, he did. See this: https://twitter.com/Woodsy1069/status/642353071247466498
We can check their, and for that matter, my archive in ten years, and if we make 25% of the impact Hauser has in his four decades in this sphere, then we will have done well. Investigative journalism is REALLY hard, and how it is done isn't really taught in textbooks. I'm seeing a lot of criticism at a superlative talent, but I suppose that comes with that territory…
Let me be clear, I question myself all the time about how to play a story. Go negative all the time and you get a rep as a toxic type, and you get avoided. Plus, it's too gloomy to always be looking for the bad. But journos are always doing a balancing act: how to do the right thing, keep sources, maintain a balance..and it is what it is. But I don't care for some of these guys out there acting like they are the gold standard of ultra-professionalism, telling you they only write the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and are completely immune from political pressures, whether it be from sources, potential sources, or their employers. (You saw an ESPN non-boxing story get an after-posting edit to soften wording harsh versus the NFL, a partner to that cabler…so this happens, all the time. Writers get impacted by politics, overtly, or covertly, oftentimes subconsciously.) I call BS. All of us can simply do the best we can, at all times…and I think most do.
2:10 (ET) THURSDAY UPDATE: Thomas Hauser has released his own statement, responding to the one put out by USADA late Thursday morning. The author chooses a high degree of specificity in his comeback, you will note:
Statement of Thomas Hauser with Regard to the
September 10, 2015, Comments by Annie Skinner on Behalf of USADA
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?
2 PM (ET) THURSDAY UPDATE: Floyd Mayweather almost 24 hours after Thomas Hausers' scathing scrutinizer looked at USADA's testing record in boxing and their handling of Mayweathers' samples and the protocol involving the sport's marquee name, responded. His statement is brief:
FLOYD MAYWEATHER STATEMENT
“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.”
Thursday AM: Thomas Hauser wrote a lengthy report which scrutinized testing agency USADA and looked long and hard at “TBE” Floyd Mayweather, and his PED testing history, and recent handling of his testing.
The story, which conjured serious questions about the integrity of USADA and Mayweather, who has painted himself as a cleanup agent within the sport, blew up at lunch yesterday and continues to pick up steam, into the mainstream media today, two days before Mayweathers' supposed last-ever bout, against Floyd Mayweather.
Here is the Hauser piece:
I asked USADA to respond and they did. That follows.
I also asked Mayweather publicist Kelly Swanson to respond, soon after the Hauser story came out, and she didn't reply. (Her office sent out a release on Thursday, at about 1:30 PM ET.)
I messaged the Nevada commission to seek their take and am awaiting a response.
I will also post some responses to questions I had from Hauser, who frequently contributes to this site, shortly.
Here is the USADA response, which arrived before noon ET on Thursday.
USADA Statement on Inaccurate News Reports Regarding the Sport of Pro Boxing
Whether due to a genuine misunderstanding of the facts or an intentional desire to mislead, numerous unfounded and false accusations have been leveled against USADA in recent on-line articles. Since our inception, USADA’s sole mission has been to protect clean sport. As such, it is unfortunate and extremely disappointing to have to address articles riddled with significant inaccuracies and misrepresentations based on unsubstantiated rumors as well as anonymous or self-interested sources that have recklessly called our integrity into question. It is simply absurd to suggest that we would ever compromise our integrity for any sport or athlete.
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 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.
Over the past six years USADA has conducted anti-doping programs for over 45 fights in the sport of professional boxing, and each of those programs has been conducted in accordance with the WADA Code and the International Standards. As a result, every athlete who has participated in one of our programs has voluntarily agreed to abide by the rules of the WADA Code and willingly subjected themselves to substantially more stringent testing protocols than they otherwise would have been subject to.
There are certainly those in the sport of professional boxing who appear committed to preventing an independent and comprehensive anti-doping program from being implemented in the sport, and who wish to advance an agenda that fails to put the interests of clean athletes before their own. Despite that opposition, we will continue to demonstrate to the clean athletes we serve, the sport partners we work with, and all those who share the ideal of fair competition, that we remain committed to our mission of protecting the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of competition.