Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach has accused Juan Manuel Marquez of using performance-enhancing drugs, a bold stance from the camp of Manny Pacquiao, a fighter who has filed defamation lawsuits over being accused of the same thing in the past.
Roach, from USA Today:
"If (Marquez's body) is natural, I will kiss his ass. ... (Marquez) has gotten bigger and gained weight — it throws up a red flag."
It is frankly somewhat remarkable that Roach would so easily throw the accusation around -- he says he "hates" to do so, since so many of his fighters have been accused, but he said it anyway. He's gone on record. It's almost laughable that he would use "he's gotten bigger and gained weight" as a "red flag," considering his fighter Manny Pacquiao has done the same but with even more stunning success since 2008.
Much of Roach's speculation is because of the presence of Marquez's strength and conditioning trainer, Memo Hernandez, who supplied illegal drugs to other athletes in the past, and testified for the federal government in the BALCO case.
Pacquiao's own strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza says "doesn't have any suspicions" about Hernandez, praising his work with Marquez and saying it was Hernandez's knowledge of exercise and nutrition that helped Marquez fight so surprisingly well at a career-high 144-pound catchweight against Pacquiao last November.
Now, the two will meet in a full 147-pound bout on December 8.
Marquez denies any wrongdoing, of course:
"I think it's disrespectful when people start rumors like this. I've never done this type of work before in 18 years. I've been working specifically to gain more strength. ... As far as the steroids . . . my tests always have been (negative).''
This is where it gets complicated, of course. Marquez (54-6-1, 39 KO) may have never failed a drug test, but he has only ever taken standard commission tests, well-known for being easily beatable by anyone who knows what they're doing.
Roach probably just shouldn't have invited the extra criticism. Nothing's going to come of it anyway, unless Marquez somehow fails a Nevada commission drug test. That's not going to happen. But Marquez's "I've never failed a test" comment is a dodge as much as it is anything. It's a statement without much weight at all.
Of course this was going to happen. People were skeptical last year when Marquez bulked up. They're skeptical now. And as Roach says, this is the world we live in. And every time a fighter moves up in weight and has surprising success, people are going to question how that happened. They're going to question it because it's human nature to question it at this point. The sports world has been rocked every which way by this stuff in the last decade.
Do I think either of them are on anything? I don't have the first clue. I don't know that anyone in boxing is or isn't. There's no way to be sure unless you've actually seen it happen.
I do know that one way or another, someone needs to put real testing in place. I'm also confident that nobody is in any rush to do so.