(A CLUTCH CITY BOXING EXCLUSIVE)
Angel Memo Heredia Hernandez is a graduate of Texas A&Mâ€™s Exercise Science Program, a former federal witness in The United States and three other countries in reference to the BALCO perjury trials, after admitting to helping elite athletes use performance enhancing drugs (PEDâ€™s), a current anti-doping consultant/analyst, and also one of boxingâ€™s strongest advocates for advanced PED testing.
Hernandez is also the owner of Ameuro Elite Nutrition and Fitness, and one of the most sought after strength and conditioning coaches/nutritionists in boxing today. Heâ€™s currently in New York with his S&C client Felix Verdejo as Verdejo finishes final preparations for his bout this Saturday January 18th, against Manuel Rey Rojas.
Mr. Hernandezâ€™s past is no secret but in mentioning his past, it also must be said that he did help the federal government as a witness as well as with his expertise on the subject, and he was been an anti-doping advocate for years now. The above mentioned mistakes happened over eleven years ago, and since Hernandez has been involved in boxing, he, nor any of his clients have been suspected of any improper or illegal activities.
As the Owner/Operator of Ameuro Elite Nutrition and Fitness, and strength and conditioning coach to his clients, Hernandez has been using legal techniques based on his mastery and expertise in nutrition and exercise science, for many years now. His clients have gotten great results without PEDâ€™s, and this is the reason some of the biggest names in the sport seek his expertise. Hernandez and his clients are also probably some of the most scrutinized in the sport, sometimes unfairly, based on his past and his clients have consistently shown to be drug free, without exception.
Hernandez is probably best known as the person that helped Juan Manuel Marquez finally get a definitive win over Manny Pacquiao, in their fourth and final fight, which took place in December 2012. This is the same fight where Marquez left Manny knocked out, face first on the canvas, incredibly, after suffering a broken nose himself from one of the Filipinoâ€™s lightning quick punches.
Because of my personal interests and business dealings in boxing, performance enhancing drugs and drug testing protocols, is a subject that has especially interested me in recent years. As a coach, corner man, and friend to the boxers that I work with, their safety is my number one priority and it concerns me, that in the last ten years in particular, PEDâ€™s have seemingly become commonplace from the lowest to the highest levels of the sport.
Due to this strong interest, and my limited knowledge on the subject, I decided to seek out Hernandez, who is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world in reference to PEDâ€™s and drug testing protocols.
I contacted Hernandez and asked if he could share his knowledge on these matters, in order to help me, and the average boxing enthusiast better understand why boxing needs better testing protocols. Hernandez graciously agreed to answer my questions while busy attending fight week activities with Verdejo.
Below are my questions and his answers:
What percentage of the champions and top ten, world ranked boxers would you estimate are currently using performance enhancement drugs (PEDâ€™s)?
Itâ€™s hard to determine the number of boxers that could be possibly cheating. Unfortunately many are taking advantage of weak, inconsistent and incompetent testing techniques. I say unfortunately because there are many professional boxers that are clean and play by the rules, and sadly those are often the boxers that are at a disadvantage. The fighters that are clean, follow the rules, and compete with transparency and integrity, deserve a better drug testing system.
Boxing is a brutal sport that pits two trained and conditioned men against each other to see which man can render his opponent unconscious, injure his opponent up to the point that he can no longer continue, or score more damaging blows. When one of those men is using a performance enhancing drug, heâ€™s putting his opponentâ€™s health and/or life at risk.
What type of drug testing for PEDâ€™s is currently used in championship bouts, and what are the details of how these tests are administered?
There are several different tests used with urinary, bio passport markers(blood) and “Olympic Style”random drug testing (blood/urine) being the most common.
Out of the three I just mentioned, Olympic Style is the least commonly used, and is the only effective type of testing. Itâ€™s only used when both fighters agree to pay for it, and it is expensive, which is one of the reasons it is not commonly used, and also one of the most used excuses not to use it.
The most commonly used testing practice used by most commissions at the moment, is pre-fight urinary screening with no post fight screening, which is a terrible and irresponsible technique in my opinion.
How is it possible that there are possibly, many top level boxers that are able to use PEDâ€™s and consistently get away with it?
The testing is weak, inconsistent, and lacks transparency. There are many PEDâ€™s that are hard to detect and the testing, and testing protocols are not keeping up with the advances that the cheaters are making. The lack of consistent, random, hard testing isnâ€™t helping much at all There are also organizations such as VADA, who are also not helping the cause, by structuring their testing in such a way that is easy to get around, and ends up being more for show than anything else. They will get in front of cameras and tell everyone that they are cracking down on cheaters, but then turn around and do little to nothing, that will actually discourage from cheating.
I can tell you from experience that VADA is doing a terrible job as far as protecting the clean athletes, because their testing protocols are unsophisticated and there is no transparency in the results of their testing.
As I mentioned before, the most commonly used testing is pre-fight, urine testing with no post fight testing. This does little too protect the clean athletes because a cheating athlete can take a drug test before his fight and pass, and still take something after he passes the drug test, that will be an illegal advantage. Especially if he or she is a main event fighter that will have plenty of time been physicals etc, and their scheduled bout.
The way the testing is set up now, the random testing and the times used, if used at all, is agreed upon and decided only once an athlete signs the contract to fight.
There are many drugs an athlete can take before they sign up for a fight, that will clear out of a system before the athlete is ever tested, and these trainers and athletes know how long they can use these drugs and still test clean once the testing begins.
In fact, there are many that claim to be clean based on their involvement with The Clean Boxing Program and organizations such as VADA, that are not clean, and who use loopholes in the system to cheat, even while involved with these type of programs and organizations.
What steps can the commissions and sanctioning bodies take in order to improve their testing procedures ?
Obviously, to make things better, testing has to be mandatory as well as random. It can no longer be an option. For example, a fighter that wants to fight for a championship should have to sign up for a full year of random urine and blood sampling, Olympic Style. This is the only way we can be sure they are not “cycling” their drug use in a way that benefits them and their chances of winning, while cheating their clean counterparts.
Also there needs to be consistent cooperation between the state boxing commissions and the sanctioning bodies, because at the present time it seems to me that they rarely, if ever, work together to ensure the safety of the boxers. There should also be testing from the commissions and sanctioning bodies, not just one or the other, and it all needs to be done randomly and as often as possible.
As an advocate for better, more consistent, random, and mandatory testing, I am working on advanced testing protocols that will actually help make things fair again for the clean athletes, and I hope to work with an organization such as USADA, in order to implement these protocols in big states such as Nevada, California, and Texas, and eventually all over the world.
This concluded our interview, Mr. Hernandez stated he would stay in touch and let me know when the proper steps were closer to being made, to improve PED testing protocols.