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Mosley accused of doping

BALCO-related claim casts doubt on De La Hoya bout

Posted: Friday September 28, 2007 11:32AM; Updated: Friday September 28, 2007 8:46PM
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Jeff Novitzky (of BALCO investigation fame) alleged that boxer Shane Mosley started an elaborate doping regimen prior to a Sept. 2003 fight.
Jeff Novitzky (of BALCO investigation fame) alleged that boxer Shane Mosley started an elaborate doping regimen prior to a Sept. 2003 fight.
Ethan Miller/ Getty Images

By Luis Fernando Llosa and L. Jon Wertheim/SI.com

According to multiple sources who attended an international anti-doping conference in Colorado Springs last November, Jeff Novitzky, a lead investigator in the BALCO case, alleged that boxer Shane Mosley started an elaborate doping regimen in the months prior to a Sept. 13, 2003, fight against Oscar de la Hoya.

As Novitzky explained in painstaking detail, two months before the light middleweight championship fight, Mosley, a client of the BALCO lab, began using "the clear" [THG] and "the cream" [testosterone], the designer substances that Barry Bonds, among other athletes, stands accused of using. Novitzky said that Mosley supplemented this with doses of the blood-doping drug Erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that artificially increases red blood cell production.

"I'm disappointed that this is coming out again, four years after I've been to the Grand Jury and gave my truthful testimony," Mosley said in a release issued by his publicist. "I even took a lie detector test back then to let everyone know that I wasn't trying to be an unfair fighter."

Mosley's alleged prescribed regimen bore striking similarities to that of former world champion sprinter Michelle Collins, who was implicated in the BALCO investigation and was served with a four-year suspension, despite never having tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

Evidence seized during the BALCO raids, which was presented at the November conference, indicates that on July 26, 2003, results of blood work Mosley had done established that his hematocrit level -- a test measuring the volume of red blood cells -- was 44. On a calendar that accompanied Mosley's file, the date 7/26 was circled and accompanied by the word "start" and the letter "e," which investigators believe represents EPO. By Aug. 8, Mosley's hematocrit level had soared to 52.2. "Most men are in the low 40s," says anti-doping expert Dr. Gary Wadler. "Anything over 50 is considered off the charts." That level, Wadler says, is dangerously high but could benefit an athlete's stamina. According to the calendar, Mosley's last dose of EPO was administered on Sept. 8, five days before the fight.

Blood doping -- i.e. the attempt to boost red blood cells, thereby increasing the capacity to carry oxygen to muscles -- has run rampant in cycling and distance running for years, and it's not surprising that it may be spreading to other sports that rely upon lung capacity as well as muscle strength.

Indeed, against De La Hoya, Mosley won a unanimous decision, largely because of his strong finish to the 12-round fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. As SI boxing writer Richard Hoffer wrote at the time, "[Mosley] did curry favor with the judges by landing the harder punches, beginning in the ninth round and culminating in a vicious 12th that had De La Hoya nearly dead on his feet, his mouth gaping horribly."

Mosley was subpoenaed in the BALCO investigation and testified to law enforcement officials in the fall of 2003, though he has denied ever taking banned substances and has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, including EPO. Wadler asserts that there is an accurate urine test for EPO, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission does not administer it.

Keith Kizer, executive director of the commission, claims that "about five years ago there were discussions about EPO... but it seemed like something that probably wasn't going to be used by boxers." Kizer says that, faced with so-called "non-analytical" evidence of a boxer taking an EPO regimen leading up to a fight, the commission would consider disciplinary action and possibly deny the athlete a request for a future license.

Adding an ironic twist to this saga, barely a year after Mosley defeated De La Hoya, the two became business partners. In Mosley's upcoming WBC welterweight title fight on Nov. 10 against Miguel Cotto, he will be represented by De La Hoya's company, Golden Boy Promotions.