Nothing builds tension before a big time prizefight like a steroid allegation.
On Monday, less than two weeks before the February 25 bout between Devon Alexander and Marcos Maidana, Maidana's advisor Sebastian Contursi emailed Missouri Office of Athletics president Tim Lueckenhoff: "Since Team Alexander has tried to avoid for this fight to be a 12-rounder for a major title under any circumstances, there are heavy rumors out there about possible use of PEDs..."
Lueckenhoff kept his guard up: "So if there are rumors, who said it? I have seen nothing and want to be informed and not blindsided."
Contursi, once again, pulled out the old "just telling you what I heard" high school gossip trick:
"For the record: Neither myself nor any Team Maidana member is accusing Team Alexander of doing anything wrong, improper or illegal whatsoever. I just mentioned that there are rumors out there so what could be better to throw those rumors away in the most transparent fashion than performing a drug test before and after the fight?"
When word got to Alexander's trainer Kevin Cunningham, he was furious.
"The rumor was started by the Maidana camp!" he claimed on Tuesday night. "I couldn't believe this bull shit."
He told Lueckenhoff: "Devon will take any test, anytime."
So it goes. The boxers will be drug tested the day before the fight and immediately after the fight.
Lueckenhoff, to his credit, held his ground. In the email explaining the testing process, he wrote, "I would like for Maidana's camp to provide to me all information they have at their disposal regarding who specifically stated this rumor and specifically what the rumor contains."
This has yet to happen.
In a conference call today, reporters challenged Contursi over where he heard the rumors. Contursi evaded, getting defensive when they pressed him on the issue.
"We have received phones calls here," he said. "Very few comments here and there when we went to St. Louis. But I cannot demonstrate-- that's why I never accused Devon Alexander.... We never made an allegation, so why do you guys say we are?"
Near the end of the call, when a reporter asked Contursi why the allegations hadn't been brought up sooner, Contursi's line went dead. Probably a coincidence, but amusing nonetheless.
Alexander, a man who doesn't drink nor smoke and isn't even comfortable putting Tylenol into his body, laughed when he first heard the accusations. But there's no doubt it troubles a man to hear his character challenged so publicly.
"My whole career has been clean," he said in the conference call. "It's ridiculous. I will take any test, any test they want me to take. It's just ludicrous that they would even think that and put it out there. I'm not even trippin' off it, it's just the fact that they put it out there."
As Marlo Stanfield put it, "My name is my name!"
For more on St. Louis politics, boxing, hip-hop and miscellaneous social issues, follow @albertsamaha on Twitter.
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