Team Taylor taking no chances as they insist on drug testing of opponents
‘I don’t want to see Katie’s legacy tainted by someone who has beaten her on unfair terms’
Katie Taylor celebrates her victory over Christina Linardatou after the super-lightweight championship fight at the Manchester Arena. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Following her unanimous win over Christina Linardatou in the Manchester Arena last weekend to become a two-weight world champion, Katie Taylor, manager Brian Peters and promoter Eddie Hearn gathered in a room in the back of the stadium and spread the cards on the table for 2020.
Three names came up with promoter Hearn colourfully promising a bigger and better year ahead.
A rematch against Belgium’s Delfine Persoon, who Taylor narrowly beat earlier this year in Madison Square Garden was one name, Norwegian Cecila Braekhus was another and Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano the third. A date was picked for International Women’s Day on March 8th, Taylor possibly headlining in the US on an all-female card.
The fight against Linardatou was also one of the first women’s world title fight subjected to rigorous drug testing under the Voluntary Anti Doping Association (Vada) scheme.
In recent months ‘Team Taylor’ has been more insistent on her opponents signing up for the testing procedures with Vada now part of her participation contract.
“There definitely needs to be more drug testing in the sport because there have been so many dirty tests over the last few years. There are so many dirty fighters out there at the moment and so many rumoured dirty fighters as well,” said Taylor, who underwent blood and urine tests at her pre-Linaradatou training camp in Connecticut.
“So the testing needs to be more consistent between the fights,” she added.
According to Hearn, Amanda Serrano (37-1-1) and a seven-division world champion is the fight Taylor had signed up to before the boxer, wrestler and MMA fighter muddied the water.
“She previously signed a contract to fight Katie Taylor which they then pretended her promoter didn’t sign,” said Hearn.
“So then we went ‘whatever’ and negotiated a new deal with her. We said we are going to make you sign it rather than your promoter. So this time she signed it. So she has to fight Katie Taylor.”
Serrano and her team, however, have some history and it’s where Vada comes in. In 2018 Taylor beat Cindy Serrano by unanimous decision in Boston. Cindy is the older sister of Amanda. Both sisters are coached by Cindy’s husband Jordan Maldonado.
In 2007 Maldonado, Cindy and Amanda were arrested and charged by the District Attorney in Queens County New York. Maldonado then was the manager and boxing trainer at Envy Us Gym and had a reputation having previously featured in ‘Bounce: Behind the velvet Rope’ a film about nightclub bouncers. Cindy at the time was the ninth-ranked junior lightweight boxer.
All three were charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance, although, just Maldonado and Cindy were convicted. Documents from the case The People of The State of New York v Jordan Maldonado/Cindy Serrano/(redacted name) outlined how undercover New York police undertook an 18 month investigation into two gyms.
District Attorney Richard A Brown said at the time: “Far from being a healthy environment for the body and the mind, the gyms were allegedly turned into gym supermarkets by many of the defendants, who openly and illegally sold performance drugs”.
In his deposition to the court Detective Michael Sykora detailed how his unnamed undercover narcotics officers collected evidence. Undercover (UC) police officer shield number 2595 states: “At approximately 5.30pm at the above mentioned location UC 2595 approached Jordan Maldonado who gave UC 2595 300 Oxandralone pills (anabolic steroids) and 1,846 Methndrostanolone pills (anabolic steroids).”
The undercover officer further states on December 14th 2006: “Defendant Cindy Serrano then approached UC 2595 and told said undercover that the above mentioned pills would cost said UC $1,660. That said Undercover gave $1,660 in United States currency to defendant Jordan Maldonado.”
Another deal is conducted on December 29th, another on January 5th, 2007 another on January 12th, another on February 7th, on April 30th, on June 12th, on August 15th and August 21st when UC 2595 “spoke with Jordan Maldonado on the telephone and engaged in a drug related conversation. A short time later said undercover arrived outside of the above mentioned location and approached defendants Jordan Maldonado, Cindy Serrano and (Redacted), who were sitting inside of a vehicle.
“Said undercover handed [over] $700 United States currency.” The court is further informed by UC 2595 “that defendant Cindy Serrano told defendant (redacted) in sum and substance to take UC inside the location and give said undercover the stuff.”
Then (redacted) took UC2595 into the location and “gave said undercover 507 Dianabol pills [anabolic steroids].”
During the investigation, which resulted in two dozen arrests, undercover officers posing as drug dealers made more than 60 separate purchases of steroids, cocaine and prescription narcotics such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Percocet and Xanax.
In court in April 2008 Maldonado pleaded guilty to the criminal sale of controlled substances in the 5th degree, a D class felony and was sentenced to one year in prison. Cindy was charged with a B felony in the third degree, took a plea and was not jailed. Her driving license was suspended for six months.
Amanda, who was 19-years-old at the time, was charged with fifth degree criminal sale of a controlled substance but her case did not go to court and she has no conviction.
Recent WBO featherweight world title contender Heather Hardy tested positive for the banned diuretic Lasix through testing conducted by Vada in September at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theatre. Hardy lost by unanimous decision to Amanda Serrano, who tested negative and provided a screenshot of her results on social media page.
Full Vada testing for a title fight is expensive and can run up to between $20,000 and $30,000 leading up to and after a fight. But Hearn was clear about it after the Taylor won her WBO super-lightweight title from Linardatou in Manchester.
“I don’t want to see Katie’s legacy tainted by someone who has beaten her on unfair terms,” he said. That’s why he, Peters and Taylor are insisting that Vada is now always done.