Holyfield says link to HGH probe a 'non-issue'

HOUSTON -- Evander Holyfield is unsure how or why his name
surfaced in an investigation of illicit sales of steroids and human
growth hormone.

"I ain't got nothing to defend," the four-time heavyweight
champion told The Associated Press. "Ain't nobody said I did
nothing. It's a non-issue."

Holyfield is among a number of athletes linked to the inquiry,
which is being investigated by Albany (N.Y.) District Attorney
David Soares, who's preparing to release the names of athletes
involved. The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., has reported that
Holyfield was on a customer list at Applied Pharmacy in Mobile,
Ala., one of the pharmacies raided in the investigation.

Holyfield is to fight New Yorker Vinny Maddalone in a non-title
bout Saturday night in Corpus Christi. The 44-year-old boxer has
insisted he's never used any illegal or banned
performance-enhancing drugs.

"I ain't got nothing to defend. Ain't nobody said I did
nothing. It's a non-issue."
-- Evander Holyfield

He noted his fighting weight has remained relatively consistent
throughout his pro career, which began in 1984. He says he'll be
about 215 pounds for this bout.

Holyfield said Wednesday his representatives have spoken to
"the people who are supposed to have the allegations and they
said, 'No, we didn't have an allegation about you. Only thing that
we said that your name was in here, and that's it."'

Soares spokeswoman Heather Orth said Thursday that DA
investigators were combing evidence seized in raids on medical
clinics and compiling a list of athletes' names linked to the
inquiry. Those names eventually will be forwarded to the respective
professional sports leagues or associations, Orth said.

She said no names had been released by Soares' office and
couldn't confirm if Holyfield representatives had spoken to Soares
or anyone on his staff.

Asked when the names might be released, Orth said, "We're
hoping in the next week or so."

So far, 20 people have been indicted, and several Florida
clinics raided. They allegedly were part of a scheme to provide
prescriptions over the Internet to clients who never met with the
prescribing physicians. A similar federal prosecution also is under
way in Rhode Island.

Soares has said he's targeting distributors supplying illicit
drugs and physicians writing prescriptions for patients they've
never seen, not customers.

Holyfield's fight against Maddalone is part of his effort to win
another world title, even an undisputed title. But he does so less
than three years after New York revoked his license to fight in
that state, citing diminished skills, and with his name linked to
the investigation.

"There are a lot of things in life you have to endure to be
successful," Holyfield said. "I was told when I was 8 years old I
could be heavyweight champion of the world, but it took 20 years.
Since 1992, when I lost to Riddick Bowe, I've been trying to get
these titles back."

Holyfield (40-8-2), ranked 10th among heavyweights in the latest
WBC ratings, began his comeback last year with two wins, both in
Texas, and hopes to unify the heavyweight titles before retiring
sometime in 2008. He says has overcome a shoulder injury he blames
for a three-fight losing streak that appeared to mark the end of
his career in November 2004.

One of those losses, to Larry Donald, prompted New York
officials to revoke Holyfield's license, though he had no problem
getting a license to fight in Texas last year.

"My shoulder's OK, I can move my head now, I can slip more
punches," he said.