A judge Tuesday dismissed a defamation suit by Manny Pacquiao’s former strength and conditioning coach, who alleged Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach made false statements implying that the plaintiff gave fighters performance-enhancing drugs.
Los Angeles Superior Court Dalila Corral Lyons found that Roach’s statements were protected speech.
“It explicitly says it’s his opinion,” Lyons said.
The lawsuit, filed in April 2014 by Alex Ariza, alleged Roach slandered him in a video interview three months earlier with reporter Radio Rahim that was posted on the Internet.
In the interview, Roach was asked about fighter Brandon Rios failing a steroid test. Referring to Ariza, Roach replied, “I know he has a new strength coach and I don’t get along with the guy.”
Roach also talked about Ariza’s work with Pacquiao.
“He used to give (Pacquiao) a drink every day before we worked out and I asked him, ‘What’s in that drink?,’ and he would never tell me,” Roach stated, adding that he, not Ariza, would be blamed if something went wrong.
“So, in my opinion, he’s a little shady, so he’s with that camp now and it doesn’t surprise me that happened,” Roach said.
Roach’s attorneys stated in their court papers that their client’s comments were “nothing more than his personal opinions and reactions to current, newsworthy topics.”
Roach’s lawyer, Arthur Chapman, praised the judge’s ruling.
“I’m sure Mr. Roach will be pleased to hear the result,” Chapman said.
–City News Service