Manny Pacquiao knows what it feels like to be on the wrong end of a performance-enhancing drug accusation. He is aware of how unpleasant having to defend yourself against baseless charges can be. And that understanding is probably why he never elects to put anyone else in that position. Mind you, the Filipno champ has been in boxing for a long time. There is no doubt that he has suspicions about at least some fighters being on PEDs – yet he never calls them out. It’s a pointless exercise, unless you have substantive proof.
Unfortunately, others in Pacquiao’s camp haven’t shown the same restraint as of late. This week, while doing press for his guy’s upcoming showdown against Juan Manuel Marquez, famed trainer Freddie Roach made an explosive accusation.
"If (his body) is natural, I will kiss his ass,” Roach said of Marquez to USA Today.
"(Marquez) has gotten bigger and gained weight — it throws up a red flag,'' he explained. "I've been accused so many times of my fighters being on steroids (that) I hate to accuse other people. But it is part of our life, part of the world we live in.''
Needless to say, that is a very serious accusation. Particularly when it comes from someone who is as respected as Roach is. Naturally, the charge created something of a stir. When one of the greatest trainers of all-time calls out a guy with a résumé that is as long as the one that Marquez boasts, that’s major news.
In an effort to see if Roach had any legitimate reason to believe what he had said, the good folks at FightHype followed up on the matter. Here was Roach’s response when pressed on his earlier comments: "I was just joking."
Say what? That’s his idea of a joke? Questioning the credibility of one of the most legit fighters in the world today?
Okay. Fine. Everyone’s sense of humor is different. Maybe Roach really did make a bad joke. We probably would have been able to buy that awful excuse, had he not followed it up with this comment: "The thing is, he put on a lot of muscle and if you can do that by weightlifting, that's amazing. I workout every day and I don't get those kind of muscles."
Translation: It wasn’t a joke, I do think he’s on something, but Manny wanted me to walk the comments back.
This is a pretty huge story. Stay tuned, it will be interesting to see what Pacquiao has to say about his trainer’s recent commentary.