PED scandals haven't tainted boxing the way they have baseball and football but the sweet science is smack dab in the middle of a situation which imperils one of the most anticipated bouts of this half year. Lamont Peterson is set to rematch Amir Khan on May 19 in Las Vegas; the DC-based junior welterweight is looking to beat Khan more conclusively than he did when they gloved up in DC last December. In that effort, Peterson won a split decision and came away with Khan's WBA and IBF junior welter titles. Controversy attached to the win because Peterson won on the cards of two judges by a single point, and during the course of the contest, the Brit Khan had two points taken away by the ref for pushing Peterson.
Now, more controversy has arisen.
On Monday, word came out that Peterson had tested positive for a banned substance, after submitting a sample during pre-fight testing he agreed to do. More specifics emerged today, with Khan's promoter Richard Schaefer holding a conference call to shed some light on the Peterson positive. The Golden Boy chief said he got word Monday from Nevada athletic commission head Keith Kizer that Peterson tested positive for a chemical that indicated he used an anabolic steroid. A specimen taken March 19, the 'A' sample, Schaefer said, tested positive, and was reported on April 12 to the outfit doing the testing, VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association). VADA told Peterson of the positive the next day. As is his right, he asked that a second sample, the 'B' sample, also from the March 19 specimen, be tested. It was tested by VADA on April 30, and also came back positive, Schaefer said. A sample furnished by Peterson on April 13 was reported as being clean on May 2. Schaefer explained that the matter is in hands of the Nevada commission, because the rematch is to be held in Las Vegas. Ring's Lem Satterfield spoke to Kizer after that conference call, and he said he was told by Peterson's counsel that the positive test came from the usage of testosterone pellets, and that the fighter acknowledged using them, a banned substance in Las Vegas, before the December bout with Khan. Kizer said that could well be grounds for having the win overturned. ESPN's Dan Rafael reported that Peterson's attorney will argue to Kizer and company that the positive came as a result of being treated for an undisclosed medical situation.
On the call, Schaefer, who says as of now Khan is still training and the fight is on, expressed annoyance that he wasn't told initially that Peterson tested positive.
The president of VADA, ex chief ringside physician of the Nevada Commission Margaret Goodman, released a statement in response to the Schaefer call.
It is important for VADA to carry out its mission consistent with respect for the privacy of the athletes who are tested.
VADA notified Lamont Peterson and his attorney, Jeff Fried, immediately after Mr. Peterson’s “A” sample tested positive.
VADA felt that it would be inappropriate for it to notify third parties of the positive test result at that time because there had been no confirmation of it.
It appears as though Mr. Peterson and Mr. Fried also chose not to notify third parties at that time in the hope that Mr. Peterson’s “B” sample would test negative.
As soon as Mr. Peterson’s “B” sample tested positive, VADA notified Mr. Peterson, Mr. Fried, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Neither Golden Boy Promotions nor HBO was a signatory to the VADA contract.
One wrinkle some folks find curious is that it is believed that Team Peterson pushed hard for strict testing on Khan; his strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza has been accused, mostly in whispered tones, of illegally aiding his client. Welterweight champ Paul Malignaggi, who has been quite vocal about what he believes is widespread use of PEDs in the sport, spoke on the matter to me: "It is tough to judge until all the proper info is made public. It seems strange as Lamont was the one who wanted the random tests...so no opinion until more info is public."
Check back for reaction from the Notorious VIC, Victor Conte, the former PED bad-boy who has redesigned himself into a primary agent of cleaning up sports of illegal doping.