News24

Marquez to fight doping claims

2011-11-03 11:35

Las Vegas - Mexican fighter Juan Manuel Marquez defended himself as doping clouds arose on Wednesday after his strength coach was revealed to be among those involved in a major doping scandal that stung US athletics.

Ten days before his third showdown against Manny Pacquiao, Marquez said his larger and stronger form at age 38 compared to a 2004 draw and narrow 2008 loss to the Filipino superstar came from hard work and not banned substances.

"Whatever doping they want to do - blood, Olympian - whatever they want to do, I'll do it, as long as he does it too," Marquez said through a translator.

Victor Conte, whose BALCO products were at the centre of a major doping scandal, revealed in a Twitter posting on Monday that Marquez's strength and conditioning coach was Angel Heredia, who testified in a doping investigation.

Heredia admitted providing banned performance-enhancing substances to Trevor Graham, former coach of disgraced former stars Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery among others.

Alex Ariza, Pacquiao's strength and conditioning coach, commented about Marquez looking bigger and stronger as well. Together with Heredia's past links to doping, Marquez found himself on the defensive about his fit physique.

"It's a shame all the work I've done has been trashed by these guys, Conte and Ariza," Marquez said.

"I think you shouldn't be saying stuff like that."

Pacquiao, 53-3 with two drawn and 38 knockouts, will defend his World Boxing Organisation welterweight crown against Marquez, 53-5 with one drawn and 39 knockouts, on November 12 at Las Vegas.

Asked about Marquez working with Heredia, Pacquiao said, "I don't have a comment about that."

Pacquiao has a defamation lawsuit against rival Floyd Mayweather claiming the American slandered him by saying he was a dope cheat when the two were in talks for a much-anticipated welterweight showdown that never came together.

Now it is Marquez who finds himself questioned about nutrition work with Heredia, a role similar to what Conte has as a nutritionist to another Filipino fighter, World Boxing Council bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire.

"Conte can speak about whatever he wants. The lawyers will have their hands around that case," Marquez said. "I'm just preparing for the fight. If he can present some facts, we'll have our lawyers look at that."

Marquez would not say he was taking legal action against Conte but he did say he turned to Heredia without knowing his doping background.

"I knew he had worked with a lot of elite athletes before I met him," said Marquez.

"He's a very professional guy. When we talked and what I needed to do I was fine with it. We knew we needed to do some thing differently and I'm very happy with the results. I'm a happier fighter and I look forward to the fight.

"These things said about him by Conte are just legal issues that he's going to have to deal with."

Ignacio Beristain, Marquez's trainer, praised Beristain's work.

"There are different ways to get a fighter very strong. I think we've done it the right way," Beristain said. "I don't see why somebody should doubt we have done it the right way.

"I have the utmost respect for the work he has done for us. Every time Juan Manuel comes to the gym, he delivers me a guy with power who is ready."

Promoter Bob Arum tried to brush aside any notion of wrongdoing, claiming natural supplements allow for steroid-like benefits without banned substances.

"There was a period of time where this guy and Victor Conte dealt in steroids with major athletes. That's old, old news," Arum said. "The idea Conte or this guy would be dealing with steroids with anybody makes no sense.

"They have learned their lesson. The last thing they would do would be deal in illegal substances. You don't have to do that anymore. There are better methods now, all of which happen to be legal. They are using totally legal supplements and nutritional supplements to achieve the same things.

"The steroid problem is fading into the past."

AFP