Punchlines - July 17

Board chief claims it is too early to tell if boxing is rife with doping

By Nick Parkinson.   Last Updated: 17/07/12 10:56am

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Enzo Maccarinelli is facing a likely ban after becoming the latest boxer to test positive for a banned substance, but British Boxing Board of Control secretary Robert Smith insists doping is not widespread in the sport.

The former world cruiserweight champion, from Swansea, is waiting to hear his fate after failing a random drugs test. The Welshman, who lost his WBO title by second round KO to David Haye in 2008, won the British cruiserweight title with a points win over Shane McPhilbin in March.

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) will determine the length of Big Macc's ban, which the Board will support, and has yet to reveal the substance that Maccarinelli took.

The Board has increased the amount of random drugs testing it does and UKAD has recently banned four British boxers.

Heavyweight Larry Olubamiwo, heavyweight cruiserweight Terry Dunstan, light-heavyweight Michael Banbula and Liverpool's former British super-middleweight champion Tony Dodson are all British boxers currently serving bans for taking banned substances.

Smith says the Board increased its random testing last year but claims it is too early to tell if boxing is rife with doping.

"Over the last 18 months, we have upped our out of competition drugs testing," Smith told Punchlines. "We test for big fights and random tests, and we have done 40 or 50 in the last 18 months.

"We test every weekend and we must be one of the hardest testing sports around. The most recent ones to test positive, are random tests. Some are picking up these substances through nutrional drinks which are produced for mass sports, but not professional sports.

"We have only just started getting these positive tests. We've upped our random testing over the last 18 months, it's just that we have just had a spate of positive tests. Maybe boxing does have a real problem with performance-enhancing drugs if it carries on like this for a year."

Olubamiwo was recently given a four-year ban by UKAD for the blood-boosting substance EPO and steroids while American Lamont Peterson is currently being investigated after testing positive for synthetic testosterone following his controversial points win over Amir Khan last December.

Peterson's fellow American Antono Tarver, who starred in the film Rocky Balboa, then tested positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone last month.

Another American, former world welterweight champ Andre Berto, tested positive for the steroid nandrolone in May, while over here in Britain it was revealed last week that London-based Iraqi Ali Adams, who was beaten by Audley Harrison in May, has also recently tested for a banned substance.

Khan, who was stopped by American Danny Garcia for the WBA and WBC light-welterweight titles last weekend, wants more random drug testing.

He said: "There's a lot of drug cheats in boxing right now. I didn't know there were so many until we started to catch people out.

"I believe every fighter should be randomly tested. You need to be able to trust another boxer you are facing because you are training to bash each other up, it's dangerous as it is. It shows how many have been caught recently that it happens in boxing. It needs to be cleaned up."

Quick Hits

Bernard Hopkins, still going strong at 47, is in the frame to be Nathan Cleverly's next opponent in Cardiff in October.

The undefeated Welshman is looking for a challenger for his WBO light-heavyweight title and the evergreen American, who lost a WBC title fight on points to Chad Dawson in April, is top of the wanted list.

WBA light-heavyweight champion Beibut Shumenov is another possible opponent for Cleverly should a showdown with Hopkins fall through.

American Kelly Pavlik, the former world middleweight champion who has battled alcoholism, has been mentioned as Carl Froch's next opponent in Nottingham on November 3 or 10.

Nottingham's IBF super-middleweight champion is lined up to rematch Canadian Lucian Bute next year, when it is expected he will also meet Dane Mikkel Kessler again.

Thomas Oosthuizen, of South Africa, is another opponent in the frame to face Froch in November.

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