Wladimir Klitschko asks for investigation
07.05.04 - Today, Wladimir Klitschko, requested that the United States Attorney for the District of Nevada launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding his April 10, 2004 loss to Lamon Brewster in Las Vegas. As explained in a letter to United States Attorney Daniel G. Bogden from Judd Burstein, an attorney retained by Mr. Klitschko, there are extremely troubling questions about April 10 that need answers:
Article posted on 07.05.2004
As evidenced by this week’s guilty plea in your District by Robert Mittelman to charges that he fixed fights and then unsuccessfully sought to bribe both a federal judge in your District and an Assistant United States Attorney in your Office, it is regrettably all too possible that someone sought to illegally influence the outcome of the Klitschko/Brewster bout. It is our firm’s belief that there was some foul play involved here, and we believe that the facts of record to date more than justify a full investigation by your Office.
The questions raised in the letter to United States Attorney Bogden include:
1. Why, shortly before the bout, did the betting odds on the Klitschko/Brewster fight move from 11-1 in Mr. Klitschko’s favor to 3.5-1? That extraordinary movement suggests that there was a huge amount of late money bet on Brewster with no sound reason for that betting pattern -- other than the possibility that someone knew that Brewster had been handed an unfair advantage in the fight.
2. How is it that an all-access pass reserved for a Klitschko team member was given to an as-yet unidentified person who could not possibly have had proper photo identification? Who was that person? Why was he given a pass? What was he doing with his access?
3. Why is it that Mr. Klitschko’s urine and blood samples were destroyed, notwithstanding Mr. Klitschko’s team’s immediate and constant requests that those samples be sent to Los Angeles for further testing? Significantly, according to the policies of the laboratories holding the specimens, Mr. Klitschko’s blood and urine samples had not been destroyed at the time they were requested.
4. How is it that Wladimir Klitschko, someone who has always come into the ring in top physical condition, found himself in a position where, commencing in the second round (before he was even really hit by Mr. Brewster), he experienced a rapid loss of energy, coherence and equilibrium?
5. Why is it that Emmanuel Steward, Mr. Klitschko’s Hall of Fame trainer, believes that there was something physically wrong with Mr. Klitschko on the night of the bout? Mr. Steward stated: “Wladimir was in perfect shape for the bout. In all of my years as a trainer, I have never seen anything like this. I know when a fighter is hurt from an opponent’s punches. In this case, there was something else causing Wladimir’s problems.”
As explained by Mr. Burstein, these are very serious questions: “Everyone in the industry knows that there is an ongoing FBI investigation into fight fixing and fraudulent medical reports in Nevada. The strange events of April 10 give real cause for concern that Mr. Klitschko may have been the victim of the very type of activity that is being investigated by the federal government.”
Wladimir Klitschko stated: “I have thought long and hard about requesting an investigation because I am concerned that the public, and particularly my fans, will see me as making excuses instead of taking responsibility for a loss. That is not my intention. I simply want to know the truth, and I have not yet been given adequate answers to the many questions I rightfully have.
I understand that an investigation cannot change a loss into a win. I also understand that my path to redemption requires victories in the ring. So my call for an investigation should not be viewed as a strategy to change the past; it is to make the future better for the sport of boxing. One of these days, I will hopefully earn the chance to fight Lamon Brewster again, and the result of that meeting will offer a far better explanation of my loss than the result of any investigation.”
May 5, 2004
VIA FAX & FEDERAL EXPRESS
Daniel G. Bogden, Esq.
United States Attorney
District of Nevada
333 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89101
Re: Wladimir Klitschko
Dear Mr. Bogden:
I am an attorney representing Wladimir Klitschko, a professional boxer fighting as a heavyweight. I am writing to respectfully request that your office conduct an investigation into the highly suspicious events surrounding Mr. Klitschko’s April 10, 2004 Las Vegas bout against Lamon Brewster, and the equally suspicious frustration of Mr. Klitschko’s subsequent efforts to ascertain whether or not he had been illicitly drugged or poisoned prior to or during the bout with Mr. Brewster.
As explained below, we are not leveling accusations against anyone in particular, and only seek an investigation to learn the truth and, if appropriate, punish the guilty. As evidenced by this week’s guilty plea in your District by Robert Mittelman to charges that he fixed fights and then unsuccessfully sought to bribe both a federal judge in your District and an Assistant United States Attorney in your Office, it is regrettably all too possible that someone sought to illegally influence the outcome of the Klitschko/Brewster bout. We believe that the facts of record to date more than justify a full investigation by your Office.
THE EVENTS PRIOR TO THE KLITSCHKO/BREWSTER BOUT
Before turning to what occurred during the bout, we first turn to a number of events that preceded the bout – events which, when viewed in connection with the events that followed, give off a strong odor of corruption.
First, as reported by Dean Juipe in the April 19, 2004 Las Vegas Sun, the odds on the bout posted by both Mandalay Bay and Pinnacle, leading offshore sports books, plummeted from 11-1 in Mr. Klitschko’s favor to just 3.5-1 by fight time. As Mr. Juipe pointed out, this “could only happen if there was a huge influx of money wagered on [Mr. Brewster.]” The question, of course, is why? To be sure, odds change in the days and hours before a fight, but experience shows that it is virtually unheard of for them to change so dramatically in such a short period of time.
Your investigation will reveal that Mr. Brewster was understandably a heavy underdog and that nothing in the public domain gave any cause for such a drastic change in the betting line. On the other hand, if a drugging of Mr. Klitschko was planned in advance, that fact would easily explain why there was so much “late money” bet on Mr. Brewster.
In this regard, it should be noted that identifying unusual changes in the odds has been an effective weapon in ferreting out the fixing of sporting events. As reported on March 31, 2002 by Edward Epstein of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The [gaming] industry also claims that Nevada casinos have tipped off the FBI to a few college basketball point-shaving scandals over the past several years by looking for unusual betting patterns on games.” Further, a key ground for the general consensus that the March 1999 draw in the Lennox Lewis/Evander Holyfield bout was the product of corrupt judging, was the fact that the odds on that fight went from 11-5 in Lewis’s favor to “pick ‘em” by the time of the fight. Of course, the swift change in the odds on the Klitschko/Brewster fight were far more dramatic and therefore much more indicative of foul play.
Second, there was a very suspicious incident concerning fight credentials. As you may know, certain credentials for a fight – such as the ones that give a person access to all areas of the arena on fight night – are highly prized and limited. For that reason and also, more importantly, because of security concerns, such credentials are released to an individual only if he or she is on a credentials list and he or she provides photo identification. Notwithstanding these procedures, when a member of the Klitschko team went to pick up his credential prior to the bout, he was told that it had already been picked up. When the team member asked for more information, it became clear that someone had picked up the credential by falsely claiming to be the team member. Given the requirement of photo identification, this error should not have been possible. Yet, it happened, thereby creating a situation where an unidentified person secured an all-access pass through fraud, thus providing himself unfettered access to the arena. While this scenario may seem outlandish, is it any more outlandish than Mr. Mittleman offering a judge and prosecutor in this District $15,000 to fix a case? Is it more outlandish that, in 1919, Arnold Rothstein bribed eight members of the Chicago White Sox so that they would throw the World Series?
In sum, before the Klitschko/Brewster bout even began, there were strong indications – in the form of extreme volatility in the betting line and fraud in the securing of an all-access credential – that some mischief was afoot. Those indications ripened with what transpired next.
THE KLITSCHKO/BREWSTER BOUT
As both Mr. Klitschko and his entire team, including Hall of Fame trainer Emmanuel Steward, will attest, Mr. Klitschko was in extraordinary physical condition for the bout. Indeed, according to Mr. Klitschko, he had never trained so well or come into a bout so well-conditioned. Significantly, he had never shown himself to be a fighter who lacked conditioning or stamina. Thus, what happened on April 10 is wholly inconsistent with Mr. Klitschko’s career. To be sure, he has been knocked out before, but never under circumstances such as those that prevailed on April 10. One need only review the tape of the bout in order to have serious concerns as to whether he was drugged or poisoned – especially in light of the events both before and after the bout.
Inexplicably, beginning in or about the second round, and prior to having been hit with any significant punches, Mr. Klitschko exhibited and experienced a rapid loss of energy, coherence and equilibrium. This fact was noted and is corroborated by the personal observations of his corner-men, who uniformly characterized his condition as something they had not seen previously in their long careers. They noted that he appeared to collapse during the bout, not from the effects of any blows, but rather from some other unknown cause. They also pointed out that Mr. Klitschko lacked the recuperative powers he had shown in all of his past fights, which he should have had in light of training and conditioning. These observations are consistent with publicly reported statements of Referee Robert Byrd, a very experienced official, who, in April 11, 2004's USA Today, stated: “I tried to get a response out of him but there was none. I've never stopped a fight like that." Similarly, in Mr. Juipe’s April 19, 2004 Las Vegas Sun article, an employee of the Palms Casino explained why there was no betting line available on the then-upcoming April 24, 2004 bout between Vitali Klitschko and Corrie Sanders: “It’s because the other Klitschko [Wladimir] looked like he was poisoned or something in the fight with Brewster.” (Emphasis supplied)
Further evidencing foul play is the fact that Mr. Klitschko's condition after the April 10 fight cannot be reconciled with the recuperative powers demonstrated after his defeat by Corrie Sanders in March 2003. Mr. Klitschko also lost the Sanders bout by knockout. A review of that fight shows that Mr. Klitschko was knocked out fair and square by Mr. Sanders’s very visible and powerful blows. Significantly, if one reviews the tapes of both the Sanders and the Brewster fights, it is clear that Mr. Klitschko was hit much harder by Mr. Sanders than by Mr. Brewster. Within the boxing community Mr. Sanders is widely considered one the hardest punchers, far more dangerous than Mr. Brewster. Yet, within minutes of being knocked out by Mr. Sanders, Mr. Klitschko participated in post-fight interviews, in which he coherently communicated in several different languages. In contrast, following the stoppage in Las Vegas on April 10, observers reported that, despite being conscious, Mr. Klitschko's pupils appeared dilated, he was unable to communicate and he was unable to lift his head to respond to inquiries made by the attending physicians. This condition lasted for some time. Mr. Klitschko has also confirmed that his head was completely clear after the Brewster fight was stopped; yet he could not speak or move his body with ease It is also important to note that Mr. Klitschko’s blood sugar level after the fight was 230 -- almost twice the normal level. Medical experts have confirmed to the Klitschko team that such an elevated count may well indicate that Mr. Klitschko was given a foreign substance.
In sum, the events that transpired at the actual bout also raise serious concerns about whether Mr. Klitschko’s performance was impeded by some hidden substance.
THE FRUSTRATION OF MR. KLITSCHKO’S EFFORTS TO LEARN THE TRUTH
Following the bout, Mr. Klitschko expressed his strong view that he had been poisoned or drugged, or that he had some undetected medical condition. Mr. Klitschko’s team concurred in that assessment based upon Mr. Klitschko’s performance. At that time, no one on Mr. Klitschko’s team knew about the changes in the betting line.
Out of concern for Mr. Klitschko, he was taken to the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada (“UMC”) after the bout. At that time, blood and urine samples were taken from Mr. Klitschko.
On April 11, the next day, in order to ensure that he would have an opportunity to ascertain the truth, Mr. Klitschko arranged for additional blood and urine samples to be taken at Quest Diagnostics (“Quest’). Mr. Klitschko’s team made it emphatically clear that they wanted the blood and urine specimens preserved so that they could be tested by an independent doctor of Mr. Klitschko’s choosing.
On April 14, 2004, both UMC and Quest were sent appropriate medical authorizations, signed by Mr. Klitschko, requesting that his medical records, including his blood and urine specimens, be sent to noted physician, Dr. Robert Voy. Dr. Voy is a former physician for the Nevada State Athletic Commission and the former President of USA Boxing, the body that governs amateur and Olympic boxing in the United States. Further, over the next ten days, representatives of Mr. Klitschko left numerous messages at Quest and UMC reinforcing the requests for the blood and urine specimens.
Significantly, on information and belief, Quest has a policy of retaining blood and urine specimens for seven (7) days after testing, and UMC has a policy of retaining blood specimens for ten (10) days after testing. Hence, according to Quest and UMC policies, all of the blood and urine samples were in existence on April 14, when Quest and UMC received the medical authorization forms signed by Mr. Klitschko. Similarly, according to those same policies, the blood and urine should have been retained by Quest until April 18, and the blood should have been retained by UMC until April 20. As noted, during the period between April 14 and April 20, there were numerous communications between Mr. Klitschko’s representatives and both Quest and UMC requesting that the blood and urine specimens be preserved and sent to Dr. Voy.
Incredibly, though, all of the specimens, with the exception of one milliliter of urine (too small an amount to permit meaningful testing), had been destroyed by UMC and Quest. To date, no rational explanation has been presented for this failure to deliver the specimens which UMC and Quest had in their possession at the time Mr. Klitschko requested that they be transferred to Dr. Voy. Of course, there are a number of possible explanations, some innocent, for what occurred. However, one of those possible explanations – and an eminently reasonable one – is that those specimens were destroyed in order to hide the truth of what happened to Mr. Klitschko.
In this regard, we also note that, on April 26, 2004, Mr. Klitschko was given a complete physical examination by Dr. Stuart Friedman of Los Angeles, who is associated with Cedar Sinai Hospital. Mr. Klitschko was found to be in perfect health. Hence, if there was something physically wrong with Mr. Klitschko on April 10, it was not caused by any chronic condition.
I recognize that the issues raised here involve very serious implicit allegations. But they are allegations which, I respectfully submit, need to be investigated in order to protect the integrity of a sport that Mr. Klitschko and I love, and which is so commercially important to the State of Nevada. Something just does not smell right here, and the truth needs to come out.
cc: Senator John McCain
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