Earlier today it was announced that boxing superstar and WBO champion Manny Pacquiao has agreed to WBC champion Floyd Mayweather’s demands and will submit to random drug screening as part of a deal to make a dream welterweight match happen.
“As long as they’re not getting a large amount of blood, I am willing to give out blood as close to two weeks before the fight,” Pacquiao told the Bulletin late Wednesday night.
This is the second time the two pugilists have agreed to fight; their first encounter was cancelled when Pacquiao refused to be tested for performance enhancing drugs, a procedure that Mayweather insists that he and all of his opponents go through.
Whoever wins this match will be considered the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. It promises to be an exciting pairing, one that fans of the sweet science have been clamouring for for years.
Some corners feel that this was simply an excuse for Mayweather to duck the seemingly superior Pacquiao. That the drug tests are a stalling tactic by Mayweather to protect his perfect record.
I’m not sure that this is the case. I hope not, because I think that Mayweather has the right idea.
With so many athletes in so many sports testing positive for steroids, human growth hormone or even recreational drugs, many fans are becoming increasingly cynical. Steroid scandals have dealt body blows to the reputations of baseball, cycling and the Olympics.
By voluntarily submitting blood samples to the United States Anti-Doping Agency Mayweather is not just protecting his legacy, but improving the tarnished image of sports.
It’s a breath of fresh air, and particularly refreshing given the sorry state that boxing is in. The sweet science is losing ground to mixed martial arts by the day. This is a sport that has too many titles, too many flashes in the pan.
But Mayweather’s aggressive pro-testing stance means that boxing’s dwindling number of fans, whether they like him or not, at least know that there is some integrity whenever he steps in the ring.
Personally, if I were a professional athlete in any other sport I would be doing the same thing. By getting voluntarily tested on a monthly basis for the duration of my career, there would be no doubt about the veracity of my records.
This is especially topical since disgraced Tour de France winner Floyd Landis revealed to his sponsors today that he has been doping since 2002.
If I were another professional cyclist I would want to guarantee that everyone knew that I was clean, no matter how well I did. A sure-fire way to do that would be to hold myself to an even higher standard than that of by sports’ governing body.
Although the North American legal system relies on burden of proof – that everyone is innocent until proven guilty – this isn’t about laws. This is about regaining the public’s trust and establishing a reputation of integrity. In that respect, Floyd Mayweather is doing the right thing.
Thursday morning my friend Gord Barrett sent me a link to the video below, which he found on the Guardian’s weekly YouTube sport round-up. Watch just the first minute of it and you’ll see why I found it enthralling.
Seemingly a cross between pairs figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics, synchronized diving and, of course, bike riding, the entire video is absorbing, even with the Bryan Adams soundtrack.
The performers are Carla and Henriette Hochdorfer, two artistic cycling prodigies who won the Junior Masters Championships in 2008 and 2009, the 2009 German Championship and the 2008 and 2009 European titles.
Carla is 18, while her younger sister Henriette is just 14. They’ve got a staff of three guiding them and insuring that they excel in international competition.
According to the ever-dubious Wikipedia, artistic cycling was invented in 1888 by German-American Nicholas Edward Kaufmann but the first World Championship for men wasn’t held until 1956. Women had to wait until 1970 until they had a title to call their own.
It seems to be more popular with women, particularly in Germany. Katrin Schultheis & Sandra Sprinkmeier won the most recent World Championship while proudly sporting the black, orange and yellow colours of their homeland.
Unfortunately, the only other information I could find is this page that details the specs of the bikes and the performance area in artistic cycling.
If anyone has any more information on the world of artistic cycling – like whether or not it’s performed in North America – please leave a comment. I'm fascinated and want to learn as much as possible.