Boxing: Donaire doubts positive COVID-19 test result, seeks review

TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2020 04:50 PM | Updated as of Dec 12 2020 05:28 PM

Two days after a positive COVID-19 test forced promoters to pull him out of his December 19 fight for the vacant WBC bantamweight title, Nonito Donaire and his family are finally speaking out.

Donaire’s wife, Rachel, released a lengthy statement on Facebook detailing their recent experience going through the health protocols deemed necessary to be cleared to fight.

She expressed dismay upon Nonito’s positive test, but after a couple of days expressed doubt as well after she, her kids, and the rest of Nonito’s team all came out negative.

A private retest done by the Donaire family showed he is negative.

The boxer also questioned the date of the test showing him positive for COVID-19.

"Blood draw done with witnesses and surveillance proof on Dec 5 11am. Blood draw results note collection at Dec 4 3pm. On my test, my wife AND trainer. How you retrodating when you collected my blood?" he tweeted.

Now the fighter’s camp wants an official retest to try to salvage the fight and another shot at the title.

"I sparred 12 rounds today. I'm ready," the fighter said when asked on Twitter if he still wants to fight and if he stopped training after the first test result.

Donaire was set to fight Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez on December 19 for the vacant WBC bantamweight title at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.

The family is now hoping Showtime or the Premier Boxing Champions will go on with the fight.

The last time Donaire was in the ring was in November 2019 when he lost his WBA bantamweight title undefeated IBF champion Japanese Naoya Inoue.

Donaire’s original opponent was undefeated French Nordine Oubaali also tested positive for COVID-19. Oubaali was the champion in recess declared by the WBC. Promoters eventually decided to replace him with Rodriguez in November.

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Below is the Facebook post in full and unedited by Rachel Donaire:

The Fight for a Chance to Live

Our world is based on quantitative measures all around us. Depending on the accuracy and efficiency of those measures, we make appropriate decisions and actions on things that may affect us. But as fighters, we know that there is always that ‘chance’-- like a chance to beat a 7-1 underdog fight. So, we fight, question, verify, and validate until we’ve no options left. So here I am again, fighting for Nonito and his career.

Nonito and I were contacted by Baker Street Health, who I understand to be heading the fight’s Covid-19 Testing protocols, and asked to submit a team roster and the location of our training in November. Upon submission, we were sent Quest Diagnostic Test kits in the mail. Quest is a very large and reputable lab. But I thought to myself, maybe too big. That thought was confirmed later on, through no fault of their own.

November 25th we were contacted by a doctor from Baker Street Health to conduct a telemedicine collection where the Dr oversees our specimen collection and monitors us sealing the packages etc. The test results, although NEGATIVE for all of us, didn’t arrive until November 30th from Quest Diagnostic. I choked that up to the Thanksgiving Holiday and figured it may not happen again. I was wrong. November 30th, we took and sent another test. We did not receive those results until December 4th. Those tests all NEGATIVE. December 4th, we took another Test, those test results came back December 8th—Tony and I NEGATIVE. NONITO POSITIVE.
My world turned upside down and my heart sank. I feverishly waited for Dr A from Baker Street Health to call with protocol and/or instructions. No call. No email. No check-up. Fear settled in realizing that if I hadn’t taken the time to login and check myself, we wouldn’t have known until they decided they wanted to update us. I panicked and got my kids out of the house. They weren’t around my husband anyway because it was camp. When I returned, I double, triple, quadruple disinfected the house, opening all the windows letting air in. Nonito isolated in the bedroom and every so often he’d come out to grab something. Like a pariah, I shunned him going anywhere near me, teasing him about it but also being firm. I slept on the couch night after night (looking back I don’t know why I didn’t just pick another bedroom, even one of the boys’ rooms lol) I was alone in my own home. He was alone in his own home, and my boys became hurtful voices on the phone not understanding why we sent them away. And then I snapped out of it. I would never just take something as truth unless it was 100% certain. “Trust but verify,” Chad Cooper, a prominent life coach use to say. So, I asked Nonito how he felt and if he wanted to fight. He definitively said yes. I jokingly warned him “You know if I do this, I will be called that b*tch again causing fires.” He replied, “Well let’s illuminate the right path.”

On December 9th, we had a scheduled test with Baker St Health in which the doctor did not show up to or answer my calls. So, I researched clinics that did expedited Covid-19 test results. Excitedly, I called Dr A. This being the first of any communication since the ‘positive’ test lacked any bedside manner---if there is any on telemedicine. She did not ask about Nonito, his health, how he was feeling or consult on anything I expected her to. I started to tell her that there was a clinic that can process the results in as little as 24 hours. I asked about why they used Quest considering their turnaround time. She responded that it’s because of the pandemic. I stated that Quest, as confirmed by Quest’s lab when I asked why it took them so long, was NOT just a Covid-19 lab and processes countless tests a day in which it just depends on when they can get it tested. I also referenced numerous labs and companies, like Tygris Medical and Wolfson Medical, that can cut the turnaround time to at least 50%, if not more. She quickly told me it didn’t matter because he tested “positive”. I asked if the test was 100% accurate to which she of course responded it was not. I pressed her for a retest for Nonito in which she insisted that Nonito already came back “positive”. I tried to have a factual conversation that it is within reason to ask for a verification or confirmatory report, especially since I came back NEGATIVE. Dr. A again refused to have a retest and proceeded to let me know Nonito will be submitted for their 6-week monitoring program and as I understand it, won’t be able to fight until those additional 6 weeks are up.

On December 10, 2020 I went to Wolfson Medical and got a NEGATIVE Rapid Antigen test. That test came back NEGATIVE. On December 11th, I drove my entire family back to Wolfson Medical and ALL SEVEN INCLUDING MY SONS NEGATIVE. Nonito tested the Covid-19 Qualitative NAAT Test and his results NEGATIVE.

So I’m here not to argue opinion but present the FACTS:
1. 5 Days to wait for results on tests is inefficient.
2. Tony tested NEGATIVE on ALL tests.
3. I tested NEGATIVE ON ALL tests.
4. My boys and my parents and sister took Rapid Antigen tests: NEGATIVE
5. Nonito got 2 NEGATIVE COVID-19 Qualitative NAAT Test from Quest and 1 “POSITIVE” requested by Baker Street Health.
6. Nonito got NEGATIVE COVID-19 QUALITATIVE NAAT Tests that I paid for.


Just as a comparison to what our standards SHOULD be for a test that could cost a fighter his livelihood, I bring up the fact that Nonito was the first fighter to voluntarily submit himself to VADA’s 24/7/365 Drug testing. In that program, one which tests costs significantly more than Covid-19 tests, the specimen collector has 2 viable samples of urine, blood, etc. As I understand, they do this incase there is a concern on one sample, they have another to repeat the same test on. In the same regard, if a patient has certain results coming back that point to cancer, the doctor comes back and says “We need to run more tests to be certain.”

You may think, well Quest wouldn’t make mistakes. I thought that too. Until this morning. Let me present your next fact for you:
Dec 5 at 11:13am, the phlebotomist arrived at the gym for our antibody blood draw.

Please explain to me how our results show the collected specimen was retrodated to Dec 4 1516 PST? I called Quest and they were affirmative that I was wrong and the specimen was collected on Dec 4. Unfortunately for them, besides the texts from the Phlebotomist, I also have 4 Showtime cameramen and the 3 owners of the gym as witnesses as they were present. I could probably pull the video surveillance tape as well.

Is testing needed? Sure. Are the results 100% accurate and fail safe? No. Can we do better? Yes. Whoever contracted Baker Street Health has to demand efficient, effective and timely testing and results. They need to have a system in place in case of a positive test, to ensure the fighter really IS positive by testing and retesting to be able to make a confident unquestionable diagnosis. They further need to ask, ask, and ask again, if a fighter tests positive, WHY a fighter is mandated to 6 weeks of monitoring from the date of the positive result when CDC at the most has stated 14 days. All these need to be considered when it comes to the liability of deciding a fighter’s career.

Can this be rectified RIGHT NOW? Can this fight be saved? Of course, it can. But that is up to the powers that be to stand up for the fighters and what IS RIGHT. Liability befalls those who cannot give 100% justification as to why he was pulled and not given confirmatory tests. Fight cards have been changed due to circumstances ALL the time. Nonito himself took a switch in opponents from Tete to Young 3 days before the fight.

But it is NOT my job to inform the doctor that the test isn’t 100% accurate, knowing she already knows that. It is NOT my job to find a better solution, a more efficient solution for the return of lab results as it pertains to fighters, promoters, or any other profession that requires priority attention. It is NOT my job to exhaust all avenues to make a definitive prognosis or get a second opinion (in this case more tests). It IS my job to protect my family. It IS my job to fight for my husband and his career against any and all things that are not 100% true. Nonito has been in many fights as the underdog, odds stacked against him, slim chances according to everyone. We’ve been here before. We know how to fight against the odds. And I will continue to fight for that “chance”. To end this, I ask you this: If your career, your livelihood is on the line and you received a positive test that can alter your future, would you simply not ask questions, lie down, shrug your shoulders, and throw everything you have been working hard for and all the sacrifices from your family away? Or would you fight for that CHANCE to LIVE and DEMAND a #RETEST and your spot back that was taken away without confirmatory results?