The CyberBoxingZone News

Rascals Pull Wool Over Director, OR: How to Pass a Drug Test With Scissors & Paste
Katherine Dunn

March 7, 2000

The chipper, friendly Jim Cassidy always says that his job as Executive Director of the Oregon State Police Boxing & Wrestling Commission is to make boxing happen. A new local promoter, Spartan Media, scheduled it's debut fight card for a Saturday, February 19th at the Roseland Theater in downtown Portland, and Cassidy, as usual, worked hard to help. Maybe a little too hard. His amiable eagerness to please made him a patsy for a classic scam.

It started when the Spartan Media matchmaker, Thad Spenser, failed to meet the Wednesday deadline for all fighters license applications and medical reports to be in the Commission office. Cassidy obligingly moved the deadline to Thursday morning, and then to Thursday afternoon, and then to Friday morning. Say you're a referee and the guy doesn't get up by ten, so you count to fifteen. If he still isn't up but his manager hollers from the corner that he's GONNA get up, you count to twenty.

At 10 a.m. Friday, the day before the Saturday, Feb. 19 show, Cassidy still did not have paper for most of the ten boxers scheduled for the card. Reluctantly, Cassidy told inquiring reporters he only had two bouts licensed and he had to cancel the show.

The promoter raised a ruckus. Fighters were already in the air, flying into town from Las Vegas and California. Cassidy backed off again.

Sure enough, the fighters and their handlers checked into the Best Western Hotel near the Convention Center in Portland and the necessary papers started snowing onto Cassidy's desk, forty miles away in the state capitol of Salem.

The weigh-in was scheduled for 7 p.m. that night at the Best Western, and around 3:30 Cassidy notified reporters that the show would go on.

Drug Trouble

Shortly after 4 p.m. a standard drug screen report on one of the Vegas fighters spewed out of Cassidy's FAX machine. It was from the Associated Pathologists Laboratories in Las Vegas, the big, efficient lab that the Nevada Commission prefers to work with. This particular Toxicology Report from APL was on a 25 year-old Jr. Welterweight named Awel Abdulai, who was scheduled to fight Mahon Washington the following night in a semi-main six rounder. Unfortunately, Abdulai's test showed him positive for marijuana. Under Oregon law he could not be licensed and could not fight.

Now the Oregon Commission used to be famous for being tough about drug screens. The WWF and the WCW wouldn't set foot in the state because the Commission requires wrestlers to pass the same drug tests as boxers. So, Cassidy says, he immediately called the promoters office and told him what had happened. Then, Cassidy says, "I called the hotel in Portland and talked to the fighters' manager, Luis Tapia. Tapia said it couldn't be true, his guy doesn't smoke. So I told him he'd better call the lab."

Within the hour, according to Cassidy, his FAX machine sputtered again and out came a fresh APL report on Abdulai, this time listing him as negative for all noxious substances including marijuana. With only five bouts scheduled for the show, cancelling Abdulai's bout or finding a last minute substitute would have caused problems, so this was a relief to all concerned. Cassidy did not call the lab to confirm the negative report.


Cassidy weathered the chaotic weigh-in where, as has happened before, the doctor, Dr. Louis Rios, the Commission Chair, appeared an hour and a half late. The following night a modest little show took place for a small but enthusiastic crowd. Awel Abdulai lost a six round decision to Mahon Washington. Nobody got hurt. No visible catastrophes occurred.

The Trick Is....

Almost two weeks passed before Cassidy learned what actually happened between the arrival of Abdulai's positive drug test and the moment the commission fax chattered out that negative report.

This is all documented by Craig Brown, who manages the drug screening department of Associated Pathologists Laboratories. It is corroborated by phone bills from the Best Western Hotel in Portland, which show calls that Friday to the Las Vegas lab.

Immediately after Cassidy notified the people at the hotel that Abdulai was positive for marijuana and could not fight, somebody who knew the special code issued by the lab to Abdulai for ordering his report, called the lab from the hotel. Seventeen minutes after the lab faxed Abdulai's positive report to the Oregon Commission, the lab faxed the same report to the hotel. Another phone call went from the hotel to the lab and fifteen minutes later, the lab faxed a different drug screen report to the hotel. This was a completely clean, negative screen done on a fighter named Jamal Hodges, who had gone into the APL lab along with Abdulai, and had a urine specimen collected and tested at the same time. Hodges was originally supposed to fight on the Portland card but no opponent had been found for him. Hodges did not come to Portland, but whoever phoned from the hotel to order his report had the special identifying code issued by the lab for Hodges.

Some quick thinker now had a copy of Abdulai's positive report, with his name and all his identifying info at the top, AND a negative report with exactly the same format. Apparently, Craig Brown explains, someone simply cut the top section off the Abdulai report and pasted it over the Jamal Hodges info at the top of the negative report. Presto-bango, what looked like a drug negative report for Abdulai was apparently faxed to Cassidy in Salem. Cute and simple.

But if you look close, as Craig Brown of APL explains, you can tell it's a fake. The labs' internal tracking number is different on the positive report than on the negative report. That number identifies the specimen and who it came from. Another give-away is the time printed by the lab's fax machine as it sends. On a real report, the time at the top of the page is the same as the time printed at the bottom of the page. On the magically fabricated Abdulai negative report, the time at the top of the page corresponds to the time the lab sent the Abdulai report to the hotel. The time at the bottom of the page is the time when the lab sent the negative Hodges report to the hotel.

How the Scam Came Out

Cassidy didn't discover this trick. It was tracked down by a sharp-eyed young reporter for a local weekly who happened to be in Cassidy's office doing research on a different boxing story a few days after the show. (The kid reporters' newspaper insists that neither he nor the paper be named because they think the rival daily might get tipped off to the idea of doing a boxing story before his can run. Fat chance.) The kid stumbled on the positive Abdulai report loose in a file and made a copy of it. He got a copy of the negative report from Cassidy, and he started investigating. He called the lab and showed Craig Brown the two reports. Between them, the kid and Craig Brown figured it out. The lab doesn't like its credibility being sabotaged by cut-and-paste collage artists. Cassidy is amazed.

"I probably would not have thought anything of it at all had not [the reporter] made some comment about it. Because it's just out of my realm of thinking that somebody would falsify a report. Why would they think they'd get away with it? Or they probably would have got away with it easily because I probably wouldn't have delved into it now."

The fight took place. The fighter got paid. Everybody went home happy. But Cassidy says he has a pretty good idea of who the scissor-wielding rascal is.

"The ramifications that's going to come down," said Cassidy, "I don't think it's going to be worth it for the few bucks that he got for fighting. Because I"m sure the suspension will be on both him and his manager and it'll be there, I'm pretty sure, until this thing is resolved."

So far, Cassidy says he has issued indefinite suspensions for the following people:

Boxers, Awel Abdulai and Jamal Hodges, who wasn't in the state that night.

Luis Tapia, who handles both fighters and who worked Abdulai's corner for the Portland show although he was not licensed by the Oregon Commission. Cassidy says he just didn't get around to having him fill out an application. Tapia was actually on the National Suspension List at the time of that show, having been suspended by the Miccosukee Athletic Commission in Florida in September of 1999 for non-payment of a $250 fine for use of illegal substances in the corner. Don Hazelton of the M.A.C. says Tapia has now paid his fine.

Also on Cassidy's suspension list is Stenado Dan Williams, AKA Danny Stenado, the Washington resident who actually arranged all the bouts on the card although he is not licensed as a matchmaker in Oregon, as is required by state law. The phone calls from the hotel to the laboratory in Las Vegas were billed to Stenado's hotel room.

One source who was present at the hotel during these shenanigans assures us that the alteration of the documents did take place at the hotel, that several people were aware that something funny was going on, and that the actual cut-and-paste artist may be someone not yet mentioned on the suspension list.

Understandably, Cassidy takes this sort of thing personally. "You bust your butt trying to help these people," he says, "and then they crap on you. Well, they crapped on the wrong man this time."

Cassidy says he's never run across anything like this before in his one year tenure as Executive Director of the Oregon Commission. But if he didn't know it could happen, how would he know if it's happened before? Those official deadlines exist to allow time for information to be verified. Certainly it could have been worse if the faked report were hiding something not quite as silly as pot. A contagious disease, for example, or a history of brain damage.

The knife-eyed kid reporter points out that he stumbled on the positive toxicology report by sheer accident. Reporters don't normally have access to medical reports, which are confidential. And, he points out, just months ago Cassidy inadvertently allowed three boxers on the National Suspension List to fight on a single card. That was another case of deadlines waived and last minute urgency. And then there's the fact that Luis Tapia wasn't licensed at all. The kid says, "It makes me wonder what else is in those files that we don't know about."


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