The day before his May 2 bout against Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather received illegal intravenous injections of saline and vitamins, according to a damning new report published by SB Nation on Wednesday.
Mayweather reportedly took two separate IVs totaling 750 milliliters of fluid on May 1. That night, when the collection agents for U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) arrived at Mayweather's Las Vegas home to conduct an unannounced drug test, they found evidence of IV usage.
Under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, which the USADA abides by, the mixture of substances in the IV Mayweather took aren't banned, but administering them through an IV is prohibited during drug testing periods for athletes.
While Mayweather's medical team claimed that he was administered the IVs to combat dehydration concerns following the May 1 weigh-in, their reasoning doesn't make the IV use any less illegal under WADA rules. SB Nation's report speculates that Mayweather could've been injected to mask or dilute a banned substance.
USADA chose not to report the incident to the Nevada State Athletic Commission until May 21, when they informed commission officials and Top Rank, Pacquiao's promoter, that Mayweather had been granted a retroactive therapeutic-use exemption (TUE) for his May 1 IVs. According to a USADA contract obtained by SB Nation, such an exemption was allowed under the drug-testing protocol agreed to by Mayweather and Pacquiao.
The USADA, however, does not have the authority to grant a TUE to any athlete competing in Nevada, according to NSAC Executive Director Bob Bennett.
"The TUE for Mayweather’s IV -- and the IV was administered at Floyd’s house, not in a medical facility, and wasn’t brought to our attention at the time -- was totally unacceptable," Bennett told SB Nation.
The TUE for Mayweather, however, wasn't even applied for until May 19, completely unbeknownst to NSAC officials. It was granted by the USADA on May 20, according to the report.
Contrast this with Pacquiao's pre-fight medical situation, and one can question whether or not the two fighters were competing on the same playing field. Mayweather was granted a pass three weeks after the fight, but Pacquiao was denied a request for an injection of the legal painkiller Toradol on fight night to lessen the pain from a rotator cuff injury, which was operated on after the fight. The NSAC denied Pacquiao's request because his injury had not been previously disclosed and the paperwork wasn't filed in a timely manner.
Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum called the SB Nation report "very disturbing" in a phone interview with USA Today Sports on Wednesday, while also expressing grievances over Pacquiao's pain killer denial.
"Yeah, I am outraged. But I don’t know what we can do about it. I can’t change the result," Arum said.
Mayweather's finagling of anti-doping rules is yet another example of boxing's lack of regulation and oversight. In June 2012, following Pacquiao's controversial loss by decision to Timothy Bradley, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced the Professional Boxing Amendments Act of 2012 citing, "a lack of trust in the integrity of judged outcomes."
“Professional boxing remains the only major sport in the United States that does not have a strong, centralized association, league or other regulatory body to establish and enforce uniform rules and practices,” McCain said in a Senate floor speech in June 2012.
The bill died in Congress, and since, there have been no further efforts to establish any organizational or regulatory unity within the sport. A lack of functioning bureaucracy and continuity has allowed Mayweather to over the years, as the SB Nation report noted, announce his opponent and formally begin drug testing for the fight, but then schedule the actual fight close enough to the announcement date to prevent serious drug testing.
When Mayweather takes on Andre Berto on Sept. 12 as his final fight, only 39 days will have passed between the Aug. 4 announcement and the bout date.
“I am not casting aspersions at anyone,” Arum also said to USA Today Sports. “But I have always wondered why does [Mayweather] leave it to the last minute before he announces the fight.”
Mayweather has yet to respond to requests for comment.
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