SI: Holyfield allegedly received steroids, HGH via alias
Posted: Wednesday February 28, 2007 11:19PM; Updated: Monday March 12, 2007 5:55PM
Sports Illustrated reporters Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim are tracking the investigation of an illegal steroid distribution network that has implicated pro athletes. On Tuesday, they accompanied agents on a coordinated raid of an Orlando compound pharmacy and a Jupiter, Fla., "anti-aging" clinic that investigators allege conspired to fraudulently prescribe steroids, human growth hormone and other performance enhancing drugs over the Internet.
SI.com: In addition to major league outfielder Gary Matthews Jr., another prominent athlete whose name has surfaced in media reports is Evander Holyfield, the four-time heavyweight boxing champ. What do you know about his situation?
Llosa/Wertheim: Ironically, Holyfield's name does not appear in the law enforcement documents we reviewed. However, a patient by the name of "Evan Fields" caught investigators' attention. "Fields" shares the same birth date as Holyfield -- Oct. 19, 1962. The listed address for "Fields" was 794 Evander, Fairfield, Ga. 30213. Holyfield has a very similar address. When we called the phone number that, according to the documents, was associated with the "Fields" prescription, Holyfield answered.
SI.com: Is he tied to raids of compound pharmacies and "anti-aging" clinics as well?
Llosa/Wertheim: This case appears to be a little different. Rather than using the internet and receiving the prescriptions through the mail, "Fields" allegedly picked them up from a private Georgia urologist whose offices were raided as part of this ongoing investigation. But authorities tell us the drugs came from Applied Pharmacy, the Mobile, Ala., compound pharmacy the DEA raided last fall.
SI.com: Do you know which drugs were involved?
Llosa/Wertheim: According the records we reviewed, in June 2004, the individual that authorities believe to be Holyfield picked up three vials of testosterone, two vials of Glukor and injection supplies. Less than a week later, according to the document, he picked up five vials of Saizen, a brand of human growth hormone (HGH), and related supplies. In Sept. 2004, he returned for a follow-up visit for hypogonadism.
SI.com: Does Holyfield have an explanation?
Llosa/Wertheim: We contacted him today. He denied knowledge and offered to get back to us, which he never did. He did, however, release a statement through Main Events, the boxing promotion company. "I do not use steroids. I have never used steroids. I resent that my name has been linked to known steroid users by sources who refuse to be identified in order to generate publicity for their investigation. I'm disappointed that certain members of the media fell for this ploy and chose to use my name in headlines and publish my photo alongside stories ... about an investigation into a practice that has nothing to do with me or what I stand for."
SI.com: At 44, Holyfield is still fighting. What is boxing's policy with respect to steroids and HGH?
Llosa/Wertheim: Most commissions do ban steroids and HGH. But again -- and we can't stress this enough -- this investigation is about the chain of supply and this network. It's not about which athletes are or aren't using performance-enhancing drugs. The document makes no assertion that Holyfield used the drugs that he is alleged to have received.
Boxing is not like other sports where there is a league and union that agrees on standard policies such as drug testing. In boxing, anti-doping rules can vary by state commission. We spoke with several officials with the Nevada Athletic Commission, and while HGH is on a list of banned substances, boxers are not tested for it. Marc Ratner, the former head of the Nevada commission, also told us that boxers are only tested when they fight -- not out of competition. Still, a number of fighters in recent years, including James Toney and Fernando Vargas, have been sanctioned for using performance-enhancing drugs, serving suspensions of 90 days and nine months, respectively.
SI.com: Has Holyfield's name come up before?
Llosa/Wertheim: He has never tested positive. However Dr. Margaret Goodman, chairman of the medical advisory board of Nevada Athletic Commission, says that as early as 1994, when Holyfield fought Michael Moorer and suffered heart problems, the medical arm of the Commission questioned Holyfield about possible HGH use. "There were questions [because] the abnormalities Evander had with his heart were findings that could have been consistent with growth hormone use. The problem was there was no test and Evander denied any use of growth hormone."
Goodman went on to say that she believes that use of HGH is widespread in the sport. "I think it's readily available and used in boxing," she says. "I think we should have adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) standards years ago. Boxing continues to hide its head in the sand that there's a problem with anabolic steroids and drugs like growth hormone -- and also substances like clenbuterol that guys are using in combination with growth hormone and anabolic steroids to give them an unfair advantage."
Luis Llosa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org