Holyfield says link to HGH probe a 'non-issue'
HOUSTON -- Evander Holyfield is unsure how or why his name surfaced in an investigation of illicit sales of steroids and human growth hormone.
"I ain't got nothing to defend," the four-time heavyweight champion told The Associated Press. "Ain't nobody said I did nothing. It's a non-issue."
Holyfield is among a number of athletes linked to the inquiry, which is being investigated by Albany (N.Y.) District Attorney David Soares, who's preparing to release the names of athletes involved. The Times Union of Albany, N.Y., has reported that Holyfield was on a customer list at Applied Pharmacy in Mobile, Ala., one of the pharmacies raided in the investigation.
Holyfield is to fight New Yorker Vinny Maddalone in a non-title bout Saturday night in Corpus Christi. The 44-year-old boxer has insisted he's never used any illegal or banned performance-enhancing drugs.
He noted his fighting weight has remained relatively consistent throughout his pro career, which began in 1984. He says he'll be about 215 pounds for this bout.
Holyfield said Wednesday his representatives have spoken to "the people who are supposed to have the allegations and they said, 'No, we didn't have an allegation about you. Only thing that we said that your name was in here, and that's it."'
Soares spokeswoman Heather Orth said Thursday that DA investigators were combing evidence seized in raids on medical clinics and compiling a list of athletes' names linked to the inquiry. Those names eventually will be forwarded to the respective professional sports leagues or associations, Orth said.
She said no names had been released by Soares' office and couldn't confirm if Holyfield representatives had spoken to Soares or anyone on his staff.
Asked when the names might be released, Orth said, "We're hoping in the next week or so."
So far, 20 people have been indicted, and several Florida clinics raided. They allegedly were part of a scheme to provide prescriptions over the Internet to clients who never met with the prescribing physicians. A similar federal prosecution also is under way in Rhode Island.
Soares has said he's targeting distributors supplying illicit drugs and physicians writing prescriptions for patients they've never seen, not customers.
Holyfield's fight against Maddalone is part of his effort to win another world title, even an undisputed title. But he does so less than three years after New York revoked his license to fight in that state, citing diminished skills, and with his name linked to the investigation.
"There are a lot of things in life you have to endure to be successful," Holyfield said. "I was told when I was 8 years old I could be heavyweight champion of the world, but it took 20 years. Since 1992, when I lost to Riddick Bowe, I've been trying to get these titles back."
Holyfield (40-8-2), ranked 10th among heavyweights in the latest WBC ratings, began his comeback last year with two wins, both in Texas, and hopes to unify the heavyweight titles before retiring sometime in 2008. He says has overcome a shoulder injury he blames for a three-fight losing streak that appeared to mark the end of his career in November 2004.
One of those losses, to Larry Donald, prompted New York officials to revoke Holyfield's license, though he had no problem getting a license to fight in Texas last year.
"My shoulder's OK, I can move my head now, I can slip more punches," he said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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