LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Nonito Donaire knows his association with Victor Conte puts him under scrutiny, but he insists the man at the center of the Balco steroid scandal can help keep boxing clean of dope cheats.
“When I’m working with Victor, I trust him. I’m always willing to be tested,” Donaire said in Las Vegas, where celebrated compatriot Manny Pacquiao was gearing up for his defense of his World Boxing Organization welterweight world title against unbeaten American Timothy Bradley on Saturday.
Donaire acknowledged it was troubling that another fighter advised by Conte, Andre Berto, had tested positive for traces of the steroid Nandrolone last month.
Berto’s scheduled June 23 rematch against Victor Ortiz has been scrapped, and Conte was quick to distance himself from Berto’s positive result.
“I had absolutely nothing to do with Andre Berto’s positive drug test for nandrolone,” Conte said in a statement issued in May.
Donaire said Berto wasn’t under Conte’s direct supervision at the time of the positive test and Conte “didn’t have control over what he was taking”.
“I thought he did understand working with Victor that eyes would be on him,” Donaire said. “For Berto’s part, he wants to be the best, there might be some enticing thing from somebody who says ‘this is OK.’
“I know he’s a great fighter in his own right,” Donaire added, saying Berto wouldn’t need performance-enhancing drugs to be a champion.
Conte founded the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative that was fingered as the source of the designer steroid THG.
He was jailed for steroid distribution and money laundering in the case that eventually ensnared Olympic sprint star Marion Jones and baseball home run king Barry Bonds.
Conte now runs a nutrional supplement company, and speaks out on what he sees as the deficiencies of the US Anti-Doping Agency in addressing the use of drugs in sports.
“I know a lot of people say ‘you’re dealing with the devil,'” Donaire said of working with Conte. “I’ve always been open to testing.
“Working with Victor, he’s a very intelligent man, he’s teaching everyone how to catch people (cheating).”
Donaire said that he uses Conte’s ZMA nutritional supplement, and a hypoxicator — a device that simulates altitude training.
“It gives you more stamina,” said Donaire, who will put his World Boxing Organization super bantamweight title on the line on July 7 in Los Angeles against International Boxing Federation champion Jeffrey Mathebula of South Africa.
Donaire dropped two world bantamweight belts to move up a division in February and won a 12-round split decision over Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez jnr for the vacant WBO crown.
Now Donaire, 28-1 with 18 knockouts, says his aim is to unify the division title.
World Boxing Association 122-pound champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, who will fight American Teon Kennedy on the Pacquiao-Bradley undercard, accused Donaire, among others, of ducking him.
“Everybody’s calling me out,” Donaire said. “I’m the bigger fighter now — they’ll have to wait for it. My goal is to be undisputed champion.”