FOR years, fight doctor Peter Lewis has watched Australian boxers step into the ring under the grip of illegal stimulants.
He can pick them without the help of a drug test or a policeman. They are the guys who can absorb round after round of head trauma without being knocked out.
Dr Lewis regards the use of illicit stimulants -- cocaine, ice and speed -- as a more pressing issue in boxing than anabolic steroids or human growth hormone, which are much harder to detect.
He's come up with an instant pre-fight testing kit that will pick up most recreational drugs. The test, which can be bought over the counter, works in much the same way as existing tests but, at $25, sells for half the price. He took his cheap, effective kit to the Combat Sports Board of Victoria, which endorsed it but after eight months is still seeking funding, he says.
Dr Lewis is in talks with Motorcycling Australia to introduce a testing regime for all riders.
The cost of implementation and the logistics of testing remain the greatest hurdles to cleaning up sport, says Dr Lewis.
Promoters follow the rules of sanctioning bodies such as the International Boxing Federation rather than uniform national standards. When Danny Green won his fourth world title last November, he and his opponent Shane Cameron had taken Dr Lewis's tests before the fight. Likewise, middleweight Sam Soliman and his US opponent Giovanni Lorenzo returned negative tests before their November bout, so there was no doubt about the local boy's win.
"Even if I was exposed to it, my morals would beat it. I couldn't look in the mirror and say 'I'm the champion' when I didn't win it, the drug won it for me," Soliman says.
In Dusseldorf last weekend, the 39-year-old Soliman climbed off the canvas to outpoint Felix Sturm and has earned the right to fight fellow Aussie Daniel Geale for his world IBF middleweight title. And there's no doubt he's done it fair and square.
"All legit fighters and sportsmen are (pleased) about testing being introduced, but all the non-legit ones, the ones that like to pull a shifty, are trying to find every possible (way) to beat the system," Soliman says.
Dr Lewis says there are still some fixed fights at smaller promotions, but it's increasingly rare.
"A smart promoter won't pay a fighter to lay down, because it looks crap," he says.
He endorses moves to crack down on cheating, but says the only way to really succeed is to change the nature of sport. "You have to reduce the emphasis on 'winner gets all' and there has to be a change in the whole philosophy of winning in sport so that people are encouraged to participate for the joy of the sport and not for all the sponsorships, prizemoney and the government support."
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