Floyd Mayweather’s IV fluids, USADA, and the State of Boxing

DISCLAIMER: The following commentary represents Carter’s views and is no way indicative of Tom or Ted’s position on the issue.

As I’m sure many have come to read by now, it has emerged via SB Nation’s Thomas Hauser that Floyd Mayweather received banned IV fluids prior to his fight against Manny Pacquiao. It Is being widely reported that this act is in direct violation of United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) policy on Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUE) and Floyd Mayweather is a cheat. While I find it morally indefensible, it is not cheating. Floyd Mayweather and USADA are not in direct violation of any rules or regulations and that is a problem caused by boxing itself.

An important detail many articles have been sensationalizing first must be made clear:

Mayweather did not receive banned fluids. The fluids he took are perfectly legal. However, the fluids were administered in a prohibited manner. It is the delivery of the IV in question, not the contents

With that clear, let’s begin by taking a look at USADA and their role in boxing:

USADA is contractually obligated to individual fights, not boxing as a whole; they are quite simply a “not-for-profit” corporation that offers drug-testing services for a fee. Boxing (particularly NSAC) has no professional agreement with USADA to universally enforce World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) polices during camp, nor is USADA legally required to do so. This is due in part to boxing not being a signatory on WADA policies, but more importantly because boxing lacks a central governing body to enforce it. To grossly simplify it, due to the relative nonexistence of boxing’s regulations regarding testing and procedures, fighters are allowed to tailor-make specific testing polices with independent agencies that lack the ability to levy any discipline for infractions they may discover.

Let’s get into Floyd’s situation.

On May 1st, Mayweather was administered an IV which consisted of two separate mixes. The first was a mixture of 250 milliliters of saline and multi-vitamins. The second was a 500-milliliter mixture of saline and Vitamin C for a total of 750ml of solution. This raises concern because it causes a violation of 2015 WADA “Prohibited Substances and Methods List” which states,

“Intravenous infusions and/or injections of more than 50 ml per 6 hour period are prohibited except for those legitimately received in the course of hospital admissions, surgical procedures, or clinical investigations.”

If the story ended here, Floyd would be found guilty of violating his own testing policies, unfortunately despite what the Floyd hate train says, there is more to investigate. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao had a personalized contract drawn up with USADA specifically for their May 2nd match-up that allowed the testing agency to grant a retroactive therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to either fighter in the event a fighter was found to be in violation WADA policy; something NSAC has no policy on.  This is where boxing really drops the ball because by not having a universal doping policy, you leave the system wide open to be gamed.

The main point of contention in this ‘scandal’ is the TUE was granted retroactively to Mayweather and Pac’s camp was not informed.  On May 1st Mayweather got his IV and 18 days later on May 19th, NSAC and Pacquiao’s camp were informed it occurred, and more importantly was allowed.  Here are the relevant bits of contract I’d like to bring up.

First off, USADA is the God of TUEs. Any decision they make in regards to a TUE is non-appealable as it clearly states here.  This whole situation is contractually irreversible and is honestly nothing short of genius on Mayweathers part.


Secondly, nowhere does it say parties are to be notified when a TUE is submitted. The wording is very clear; parties are to be notified when a TUE is APPROVED. “But Carter, read point 2 that says existence of a TUE is to be shared!!111!!” Again, (2) states clearly “ the existence or modification of an APPROVED TUE” this has no effect on submitted and unapproved TUEs.  Mayweather probably submitted the TUE on May 1st, but USADA doesn’t have to inform anyone of this until they have made a ruling on it.  18 days later on May 19th USADA approved it and as per the contract, they informed both applicable parties.

TUE approval

And to top it all off, signatures by both parties acknowledging they have read and UNDERSTAND the contents of the contract.


Let me be very clear about my stance on this. Mayweather is shady. What USADA and he have done is a very sketchy practice and it is a detriment to the sport of boxing. However, Mayweather and USADA have broken zero rules; Pac was gamed by a contract he signed and NSAC allowed it to be created in the first place. There are understandably sour grapes from everyone and the Mayweather hate train is full steam ahead but this does not change the plain and simple fact Mayweather did not cheat. The contract clearly outlines that what would normally be considered cheating, will not be so in this case.

If moral victories are of interest to you, tune into 100 Huntley Street.  This is professional prize fighting.  Hundreds of millions are at stake and I fully expect every competing athlete will be exploiting every loophole to squeeze every last bit of advantage they can; you’d be naive to assume anything less.  If your sport allows for that to happen due to it’s total lack of governing body, it has to change.  Boxing has allowed Mayweather to pay for and organize his own drug testing; this is the core issue and it was only a matter of time until something like this happened. The whole situation highlights a horrendously flawed anti-doping policy boxing as a sport has established.  It is not an acceptable practice and it would not be allowed happen in any other professional sport.  Mayweather has knowingly (and legally) gamed NSAC and it’s time to do something about it.  Boxing needs a single, unified policy surrounding doping in the sport. Until that happens, expect to see more shenanigans like this.  Again I do not support what has happened but nothing Mayweather has done is “wrong” according to the rules.  Mayweather is shady and morally corrupt but he is not a cheater; he has not broken any rules.  It is time to re-write these rules to ensure something like this cannot happen again.

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