8 October 2022

The SII Anti-Doping Monitor – week ending 7 October 2022

Twenty athletes from nine countries, competing in eleven sports, were involved in anti-doping proceedings that came to light this week. Two high profile boxing cases attracted media attention. A positive test by a UK fighter derailed a prize fight, and a former World Boxing Council (WBC) title holder from Africa was sanctioned with a two year ban. In addition, seven Portuguese cyclists were sanctioned with bans ranging from three to seven years following an investigation by Portugal’s anti-doping authority (ADOP); and a 17 year old Iranian weightlifter was sanctioned with a two year ban.

UK fighter Conor Benn was due to face Chris Eubank Jr. on Saturday 8 October in London. On 5 October the fight’s promoters announced (see below) that Benn had returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF – or ‘positive test’) for trace amounts of Clomiphene, a female fertility drug. The statement claimed that Benn had not been charged with an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) and was ‘free to fight’, as tests conducted by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) had not returned an AAF.

Unfortunately for the fight’s promoters, the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) disagreed, and withdrew its sanctioning of the bout (see below). Because prize fighting bodies are not signatories to the World Anti-Doping Code, the reasons why are unusually complicated.

The BBBoC adopts UKAD’s Anti Doping Rules (click to open…)

The International Boxing Association (IBA), which regulates Olympic boxing, is the only signatory from the sport that has signed up to the World Anti-Doping Code. The BBBoC is not a signatory to the Code, however it has adopted UKAD’s Anti-Doping Rules (ADR). Therefore Benn’s AAF, although it was the result of a test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA), is considered a potential breach of the UKAD ADR requiring a provisional suspension. 

Under the ADR, UKAD is required to notify an Athlete of any potential ADRV and any provisional suspension (see right). Although UKAD do not comment on ongoing cases, it appears that it was not aware of Benn’s AAF until the fight’s promoters announced it. 

The ADR require UKAD to notify an athlete of a potential ADRV or provisional suspension (click to open…)

“UKAD notes the reporting of a failed VADA test by the boxer Conor Benn with concern”, said its CEO Jane Rumble in a Statement issued on 6 October, after she had just returned from an Anti-Doping Science Symposium in the USA. “UKAD acts on all reports of doping and always encourages anyone with information on suspected doping activity to come forward and share that with us.” In a statement (below), the fight’s promoters called the BBBoC’s Decision ‘procedurally flawed and without due process’.

Catherine Phiri, who held the WBC female bantamweight title from 2016 to 2017, will not be able to return to the ring until 10 May 2024. The Zambian boxer returned an AAF for Furosemide in February 2022, and admitted taking the diuretic in an attempt to lose weight.

‘In my boxing career, I have never taken any performance enhancing drug’, she said in a Statement. ‘I have been subjected to numerous drug tests in a professional career spanning over ten years. During my preparation for my world title fight, I took a drug to help me lose weight quickly not knowing that the drug was on the Prohibited List. I did this without the knowledge of my Coach or Manager. I deeply regret my actions.’

Ongoing investigations by Portugal’s ADOP resulted in three year sanctions issued to six Portuguese cyclists for possession of prohibited substances, and a seven year ban issued to João Rodrigues, who won the 2021 Volta ao Algarve, for possession and use. It is understood that the six cyclists received a reduced sanction under Article 10.8.1 of the World Anti-Doping Code, which allows a one year reduction to the standard four year ban if an athlete accepts the charges against them within 20 days. 

Investigations are ongoing into three cyclists who did not accept the charges, reports SAPO. It is understood that investigations are also ongoing into staff members of the W52-FC team, which had its licence suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI) last Summer.

Please continue to send any cases we may have missed or suggestions through to our editor by clicking here. Also, if you’re an athlete, national anti-doping organisation (NADO) or other Results Management Authority and you’d like us to cover a case that you’re involved with, please get in touch! Also – a reminder. The SII Anti-Doping Monitor only features confirmed AAFs (‘positive tests’) or confirmed anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs).

Decision links

José Carlos Prates Neves Fernandes, Samuel José Rodrigues Caldeira, Rui Pedro Carvalho Vinhas, Ricardo Jorge Correia Mestre, Ricardo Augusto Alfonso Vilela, Daneil José Pereira Mestre, and João Pedro Lourenço Rodrigues (UCI Sanction List, ADOP Sanction List);

Harry McGovern (Sport Ireland Statement, Full Decision);

Kris Schaff (World Archery Statement);

Iranian male weightlifter 17 (Iran NADO Statement);

Matthew Richardson (UKAD Statement);

Conor Benn (Wasserman Boxing Statement, Matchroom Boxing Statement, BBBoC Statement);

Catarina Guimarães (USADA Statement);

Uroš Avramović (ADAS Statement);

Svetlana Pechnikova (RusAF Statement, RUSADA Statement);

Valeria Zhabbarova (RUSADA Statement);

Isaeva Nargiz (RUSADA Statement);

Nikolay Averyanov (RUSADA Statement);

Swiss recreational tennis player (Swiss Sport Integrity Statement);

Caterhine Phiri (Statements)

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