NEW YORK -- Why is the New York State Athletic Commission allowing Erik Morales to fight for Danny Garcia's junior welterweight titles Saturday in Brooklyn after Morales failed two of three pre-fight drug tests conducted by the United States Anti-Doping Agency?
Morales had tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol, which can be used to assist in weight loss, in two random tests conducted by the USADA at the 36-year-old's training camp in Mexico on Oct. 4 and Oct. 10.
But instead of prohibiting Morales from fighting in Saturday's main event at Barclays Center, the NYSAC deferred the decision to Garcia, who holds the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine titles at 140 pounds. Rather than pass on a career-high $1 million purse, the 26-year-old Garcia decided to go through with the fight after a third test given to Morales on Friday came back negative.
Morales had blamed contaminated meat for the positive results of the two earlier tests, the same alibi given by cyclist Alberto Contador, who also tested positive for clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France. Contador was banned from professional cycling for two years.
The commission defended its decision to license Morales, a four-division champion who lost on points to Garcia in March, in a statement given just as the first undercard bout of Saturday's nine-fight card was getting under way.
“The New York (State) Athletic Commission has taken into consideration the testing of Erik Morales conducted by USADA, an independent non-governmental organization contracted by Golden Boy Promotions to conduct testing on its boxers," NYSAC spokesperson Edison Alban said. "Based upon currently available information and the representations made by Mr. Morales that he unintentionally ingested contaminated food, it is the commission’s opinion that at this time there is inconclusive data to make a final determination regarding the suspension of Mr. Morales’ boxing license.
"The commission will continue investigating the allegations and will wait until official laboratory results are available before making a final decision."
Alban clarified the statement to SI.com, saying that Saturday's fight is "100 percent happening," and any punishment stemming from Morales' pending laboratory results will be issued retroactively. For example, a Morales victory could be altered to a no-contest if the commission's investigation finds the Mexican's excuse insufficient.
That, of course, will only happen after the receipts are counted.
-- Bryan Armen Graham