Oh, Dear, James Toney Is Caught Using Illegal Substances For A Second Time
13.06.07 - By James Slater: As all readers of The L.A Times newspaper will now be aware, James "Lights Out" Toney has been caught using illegal substances for a second time. After his last fight, a dreary points win over Danny Batchelder, James was found to have had two illegal stimulants in his urine sample. He has been fined $2,500 and been banned for a solid year.
Article posted on 13.06.2007
Apparently, Toney's system had in it the steroids Boldenone and Stanozolol. This is disgraceful news. We all know Toney was found guilty for having used Nadrolone in his title fight with John Ruiz some time back, yet many of us, myself included, believed James' pleas of innocence for that one. A torn bicep, and the prescribed medication for same still being in his system at the time of the ahead-of-intended-schedule fight, was given as the reason for the three-weight champion's failed post-fight test that time.
To have been caught using "The juice" on a second occasion, however, is surely defenceless. To make matters even worse, though, Danny Batchelder has also been revealed to have been juicing too! As with Toney, he has been fined two and-a-half grand and been banned for a year. What is our sport coming to?
I truly accepted James' story explaining the Ruiz situation. Now, however, I feel as though I was duped. James "lights Out" Toney a cheat? Okay, the guy has his flaws, I thought, but he's no swindler - he's an old-school fighter and as such carries himself as his heroes of yesteryear did. But now, with what seems like incontrovertible proof of his wrongdoing, James has done irreparable harm both to himself and his sport. Batchelder, too, should be holding his head in shame right about now. So, what does this mean for the sport of boxing?
Firstly, The California State Athletic Commission have to be applauded for having first-rate testing facilities. No-one cheating will evade their net, they promise. This is the good news. The bad is that a genuinely high profile figure in James Toney has given the sport that made him famous, rich and respected a black eye that may take a hell of a long time to heal. In the past, with the accusations and finger-pointing with regards to cheating aimed at Roy Jones, Evander Holyfield, Toney himself and others proving to be nothing absolutely concrete, the damage was less severe. Yet now, with Toney apparently caught red-handed so to speak, and as such utterly defenceless, a very real and very serious cloud has appeared on boxing's horizon.
The casual observer may well look at boxing as a sport that isn't to be trusted any more. How many other fighters are using/or have used steroids, they will ask themselves. And though other sports have had this problem for some time, I always felt the majority of accusations regarding boxers and steroids were overblown or totally false. Maybe I was simply na´ve. I certainly was when giving James Toney the benefit of the doubt back in 2005.
What is puzzling, though, is just what the stimulants Toney was using are supposed to do for an athlete. James looked dreadful in the May 24th fight - certainly not looking like an artificially pumped-up and enthused athlete. And neither did Batcheleder for that matter. Could Toney have got the win without taking anything illegal then? Perhaps he is in the mess he's in now with nothing to show for it except an awful 'win' he could have earned legally. It certainly gives one thought when considering just how much the drugs he's been banned for using helped him in a slow-paced fight he almost sleepwalked through. The steroids used by Batchelder didn't help him, either - as he was still unable to capture a win despite their presence in his blood stream. Now both men are banned from fighting until May of 2008. Also, for what it's worth, their fight is likely to be ruled a No -Contest.
Maybe a high profile boxer such as Toney being caught can turn out to be a good thing. It just might give any potential cheat second thoughts - especially if they are fighting in California. Personally, however, I can never understand any athlete's decision to knowingly take illegal substances in the first place. How does a person ever expect to get away with it? Then again, maybe I'm being na´ve once more. How many athletes HAVE got away with it in the past and will in the future? These are certainly bad times for the sport of boxing, as the pondering of such a question only goes to prove.
So far Toney has yet to comment on the recent revelations. He may well try and claim innocence when he does speak. To have been caught for a second time, though, surely will have finished his career, at least at top level. Will he box again when the ban expires? Maybe. But who will ever trust him again if he does?
For all intents and purposes we can write the epitaph for the career of the man from Ann Arbour, Michigan.
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