Some boxing fans care, many more don’t. And, frankly, sometimes it’s hard to tell what many of the big league players in the boxing business — the deal-makers, and, indeed, the fighters — think about the presence of PEDs in the sport.
The issue popped up in my head, as I pondered the return to the ring of Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, the charismatic and now controversial heavyweight who saw his lottery ticket title shot against Anthony Joshua go down the toilet when samples showed the presence of three different banned chemicals in his system.
GW1516, EPO and HGH were in his body, and, he explained, a tainted supplement and then a rogue cocktail injected into a hurting elbow were responsible for the red-flagging, which resulted in Miller being bounced from the June 1, 2019 clash with the Brit champ AJ.
Miller admitted to, no surprise, getting a bit depressed after that $9 million purse circled the drain, but decided to soldier on. Today, his prospects are looking up, being that he’s now under the Top Rank promotional umbrella. Miller is co-promoted by Salita Promotions and Greg Cohen Promotions, and seems to be gearing up to use the notoriety from the PED positive as a PR propellant. Did you see the quote in the release Top Rank sent out hyping his addition to their mix?
“Minor setback for a major comeback. I’m coming for everything and everyone. No one is safe. Say hello to the bad guy,” Miller said. “Everyone wants to portray the superhero. We don’t live in a sunshine world. I’ll never be the superhero. In my world, the majority of the time, the villain wins.”
Yikes. Happily, we saw a concession to “family values” as in the release, TR bossman Bob Arum said, “Jarrell Miller is serious about coming back, doing things the right way and becoming heavyweight champion of the world. He is one of boxing’s most unique and exciting characters, but most importantly, he can fight.”
“Doing things the right way” means by not using exotic solutions to bolster strength and stamina, for the record. (I think.)
To that end, I was pondering how commissions in places like Nevada or New York might handle the case of Miller, when he applies to be licensed to fight. He will be grilled, presumably, asked for particulars on the circumstances of the PED positives before the AJ date. He can expect to be faced with stiff scrutiny regarding his bodily fluids, we’d think.
Now, if he were to fight next in New York, he’d be smart to check their list of banned substances, and make sure he isn’t within a country mile of ingesting any those. I looked at the NY list of no-no substances, and was surprised when I didn’t see EPO, GW1516 or HGH on the banned list.
So I checked in with NYSAC and asked for clarification. HGH, for instance, could be used righteously, under pertinent medical circumstances; is that why it isn’t on the “banned in NY” list, or does NYSAC adhere to a list of substances banned by an oversight organization, like WADA, in addition to the substances on their own verboten list?
A NYSAC spokesperson furnished a response statement:
“The NY State Athletic Commission uses a set of regulations to combat PED use and the use of other illicit substances in combative sports. As you noted, 19 NYCRR 208.29, “Prohibited substances and the authority of Commission to require drug testing of licensed athletes” authorizes the Commission to take aggressive action against any athlete found to have a listed prohibited substance or PED in their system.
“Beyond those prohibited substances and PEDs specifically listed by the Commission on its website and within its Medical Manual, the Commission may discipline an athlete for the use of any drug or substance (whether listed or unlisted) that is found to have been used in a manner that is contrary to the athlete’s obligation under NY rules to engage in “honest competition.”
“To that end, if an athlete were to use an unlisted substance that may result in unwarranted and unfair artificial enhancement or an unlevel playing field, the Commission may discipline the athlete for a violation of 19 NYCRR 208.17, “Honest Competition.” In addition, where an NYSAC licensed athlete agrees to a third-party administered drug testing program and tests positive for a PED or other inappropriate substance in violation of their agreement, the Commission may take disciplinary action pursuant to the “honest competition” rule, its “prohibited substances” rule, and rule 19 NYCRR 209.3, “Compliance with Contracts.”
“Working in tandem, the rules of the Commission provide various tools to pursue discipline in the event an athlete attempts to gain an unfair and improper advantage through the use of drugs.”
Seems to make sense, for the commission to have some room to work within. After all, busy chemists find new compounds and combos to boost performance and I think listing every single one and keeping up with making sure it lists every skull and cross-bones solution would be next to impossible.
I messaged Miller’s new manager, James Prince, to ask for his take on Miller’s return, and that would include his stance on PED usage in the fight game, and how he thinks the sport’s power brokers should handle the issue. If I hear back I will insert his response. Note: I spoke to someone who’d know, who told me they believe Prince will be the sort who helps give Miller more structure, points him in the direction of doing the right thing, not doing things that could have his career backtrack again.
Ideally, Miller will sign on with 24/7/365 random testing by VADA, sending a clear message that he’s intending to never again get disciplined for having banned chemical aids in his system; because Arum is right, his personality is such that he could attract intterest from even non-boxing fans, if he’s able to compete and beat one of these higher profile belt holders. But to do that, he must do it that old fashioned way.