Vargas, punished for steroids, throws 1st pitch


CHICAGO -- Boxer Fernando Vargas, who once tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol after a fight, will throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field tomorrow when the Chicago Cubs play host to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Vargas' throw, confirmed yesterday by Joe Rios, the Cubs' manager of entertainment, will take place one day after the Orioles' Rafael Palmeiro returns from his 10-day suspension for having tested positive for, it has been reported, stanozolol.

Vargas (25-2, 22 knockouts), of Oxnard, Calif., will meet Javier Castillejo (58-5, 39 KOs) of Madrid, Spain, in a battle of former world junior middleweight (154 pounds) champions on Aug. 20 at Chicago's Allstate Arena in a World Boxing Council elimination bout.

His presence at tomorrow's game is part of the promotion for that bout.

"It's not something that I was made aware of until a few days ago, but what's the difference?" Rios said. "He's fighting here next week, and he's throwing out the first pitch. He's not going to be talking to anybody or anything, and we're not making a big issue about it."

Vargas tested positive for stanozozol following his 11th-round knockout loss to Oscar De La Hoya in Las Vegas in September 2002. Vargas was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commmission for nine months and paid a $100,000 fine, according to NSAC executive director Marc Ratner.

Like Palmeiro, Vargas denied knowingly taking the drug.

"We don't have a baseball players union, but we feel very strongly about performance-enhancing drugs and took immediate action," Ratner said. "Nine months out of a fighter's life is a long time, because that's money he should have made."

NOTE: Heavyweight Giuseppe "Drew" Kidd of Chicago remained in critical condition and in a medically induced coma at Chicago's Mount Sinai Hospital following four hours of surgery to reduce brain swelling as the result of a punch he received yesterday while sparring with Carl Davis of nearby Evanston, Ill. Kidd was to meet VolodiaLazebnik on the undercard of Saturday night's heavyweight bout between Baltimore native Hasim Rahman and Monte Barrett at the United Center.

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