Friday, May 24, 2024  |



Oscar Valdez and his team state their case against accusations that Valdez is a cheater

Oscar Valdez. Image courtesy of Getty Images
Fighters Network

Back in July, not many in boxing turned their heads over WBC junior lightweight titlist Oscar Valdez making his first title defense against an old rival, 2016 Olympic lightweight gold medalist Robson Conceicao, on September 10 on ESPN from the Casino Del Sol Resort in Tucson, Arizona.

Last week, every head in boxing appeared to be spinning off their shoulders after ESPN’s Mike Coppinger reported Valdez had tested positive for a stimulant called Phentermine in a random test done by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA, which is a testing body not a adjudicatory body) on Aug. 13. According to medical experts, Phentermine is actually a pharmaceutical used primarily for weight loss and is an FDA approved prescription drug.

Valdez (29-0, 23 knockouts) and Conceicao (16-0, 8 KOs) are still fighting on Friday night (WBC Statement on Oscar Valdez (9-3-21).

The 30-year-old Valdez, who is trained by Eddy Reynoso, last lost a decade ago, when he was 20, dropping a 19-13 decision to Ireland’s John Joe Nevin as a bantamweight in the 2012 Olympics. Before that, Valdez lost to two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasiliy Lomachenko, and before that, at 18, to Conceicao in the Pan-Am Games.

Last week, Valdez suffered a character setback he would like to make right. His manager, Frank Espinoza, and attorney, Pat English, maintain their fighter’s innocence.

Valdez, both Espinoza and English noted, never tested positive for any random test for 13 years, spanning from 2008 to 2021, taking close to 45 tests combined as a 2012 Mexican Olympian and as a professional.

“Oscar Valdez never purposely took any banned substance,” English maintained. “It was a minute amount in his system, which is my point, and it is consistent with a contamination. This stuff clears your system really fast and it flushes quickly. The international scientific community has determined that unless you take it in close proximity to a fight, like midnight before a competition, there is no advantage.

“Here is where the issue lies, most people don’t know that VADA holds a different standard. The ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions) adopted the WADA standard. When this positive came up, it came up under the VADA standard, not the WADA standard. Oscar passed under the WADA, but under the VADA standard, he didn’t.

“Oscar Valdez has no history whatsoever of a positive test. He purposely has it in his contracts as a world champion the last five years (since April 2016 vs. Evgeny Gradovich) that there is a drug-testing requirement within the contract or by agreement with Top Rank (Valdez’s promoter). Oscar has been tested around 45 times between his amateur and pro careers and he has never tested positive for anything. That’s a hell of a track record.

“That’s why I say this is an abnormality. There are a lot of unsupported comments out there and it’s unfortunate that a lot of people didn’t hear the testimony given (during the joint hearing with the WBC/Pascua Yaqui Tribal Athletic Commission, which regulates combat sports on Casino Del Sol’s tribal land), because if they did, they would have a different view. We’re counting on people to see the facts and not look at Oscar as a cheater.”

Espinoza argues against his fighter taking anything on purpose.

“Absolutely not, and I go back 17 years old when Oscar was testing for the 2008 Olympics and there was serious testing done in 2012 and he never tested positive,” Espinoza said. “Oscar has had eight world title fights and tested at least three times for each title fight. That’s around 30 tests—all negative. He’s 29-0 and he’s always made weight and never came in heavy at the weigh-in.

“It’s now over five years as a pro that he never had a positive test. One of the things that Oscar and I do are to get testing in the contract. Oscar asks for that. It would be silly for him to ask for that, and then do something he’s never done before and test positive. He’s never tested positive. I always felt Oscar is a clean fighter and his character tells me that.

“Oscar respects clean boxing and I knew when this came up that it wasn’t him. His history says it wasn’t him, going back to his Olympic days.

“This is bull—t.”

Valdez himself obviously maintains his innocence. This has been a trying time for Valdez, who felt his image and character were under attack. He feels his name has been cleared somewhat with the WBC and Pascua Yaqui Tribal Athletic Commission ruling to allow Valdez to fight.

“I have never used banned substances to improve my performance. I never have and never will. I am respectful of anti-doping tests since my time as an amateur and now as a professional,” Valdez said in a statement. “And since I’ve been a professional, I have undergone more than 30 anti-doping tests, which is something we always ask for and we make sure that (drug testing) is in the contract, to do the VADA tests to keep the sport clean and to make sure that no one has any advantage.”

When speaking in July with The Ring about the Conceicao fight, Valdez said “I haven’t changed from the poor kid who found boxing to who I am today. I do feel like I am a different fighter than I was in the past and it’s been over 10 years since I lost. Since I lost to Nevins, before that it was Lomachenko, and before that Conceicao.

“I was 19 when I fought to Lomachenko, and I was 20 when I lost to Nevins. So, it’s a decade since I last lost. I have to give a lot of credit to my team, my manager Frank Espinoza, my trainer, Eddy Reynoso, and my father. I’m not here without them. I did it straight and did it right. I take pride in that.

“I want to go in there and win in an old-fashioned way.”

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.