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PED: Performance Enhancing Dangers for a sport that already has too many

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Yuriorkis Gamboa’s name in a Miami New Times story this week about an anti-aging clinic that allegedly supplied performance enhancers isn’t exactly a surprise. Names and suspicions are part of any game these days. Expect more. Many more.

Other than the notable exception of super-bantamweight and Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire, just about everybody is a suspected PED user. Sure, it’s unfair.

But Lance Armstrong’s two-part series in Oprah’s confessional explains why. Armstrong provides a twisted rationale for all the users with his cynical definition of cheating. If everybody is doing it, it’s not cheating, said Armstrong, who said he consulted a dictionary. It’s just a level playing field, said Armstrong, who apparently forgot to look up ethical.

Travis Tygart of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency responded by telling CBS’ 60 Minutes that clean athletes know what cheating is. They know that it’s breaking the rules, Tygart said. But do they? Do they really?

I can’t help but think that Armstrong’s sad example is convincing more young athletes than Tygart’s argument is. It’s especially problematic in boxing, increasingly international and forever chaotic. In the United States, commissions don’t have the budgets or expertise to test for the sophisticated variety of PEDS that the Miami New Times reported was available at Biogenisis. The story also included baseball stars Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees and Melky Cabrera of the San Francisco Giants. If baseball players are still using despite reports about an effort to end the steroid era, what does that say about boxing? It means heightened suspicions, although there’s reason to think the public doesn’t care much anymore.

As suspicions grow, however, there’s a rush to find the next best thing in the PED arms’ race. With every shooting, more guns are sold. That’s not a level playing field.

At least, it’s not in boxing.

It’s a dangerous one and will probably continue to be until there’s a tragedy that forces somebody outside of the sport to do what nobody within it will. For a sport always in a fight to survive, that might be the biggest danger of all.

AZ Notes
· An exhibition of the Irish side to boxing history opened Thursday in Phoenix at the McClelland Irish Library on Central Avenue, just a few miles of roadwork from Central Boxing and Hall of Famer Michael Carbajal’s Ninth Street Gym. The traveling exhibit, “The Fighting Irishmen: Celebrating Celtic Prizefighters 1820-Present,” includes more than 1,000 pieces of memorabilia valued at more than $340,000. It includes Muhammad Ali’s gloves, robes, bags and photos. Ali, a Phoenix resident during the winter, traces his Irish roots to a great grandfather. The exhibit is scheduled to be in Phoenix through May.

· Likable Jesus Gonzales, a one-time prospect from Phoenix, hopes to get his career back on track against Sergio Mora. Talks have been underway with Gonzales promoter Darin Schmick of Calgary, said Gonzales (27-2, 14 KOs), who hasn’t fought since Adonis Stevenson stopped him in the first round of a super-middleweight bout a year ago in Montreal. “Darin says everything is looking good for April,’’ said Gonzales, who plans to move back down the scale to middleweight. “Nothing confirmed, but it’s still exciting. If it happens, it will be in Phoenix, but the venue hasn’t been picked either. I’m training for the fight and I’m optimistic about the fight happening.’’ Mora (23-3-2, 7 KOs) is coming off a draw with Brian Vera last August in San Antonio.

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