In a recent review of a local show, it was mentioned that “boxing is infamous for shooting itself in the foot” and the latest blast was found in the aftermath of Dillian Whyte versus Oscar Rivas from the O2 arena in London. A lot of the facts remain out of public reach as proceedings remain ongoing. With that in mind, it is difficult to ascertain exactly what has happened, what is currently happening and what any potential ramifications may be.
It all started (at least in public) on Wednesday 24th July. Thomas Hauser, through boxingscene.com, reported that Dillian Whyte had tested positive for one or more banned substances prior to the previous Saturday’s contest. Boxingscene.com then confirmed that the substances were epimethandienone and hydroxymethandienone, two metabolites of the banned drug dianabol. In simple terms, he apparently failed a PED test.
So far, so simple, sort of. We have since been told that Whyte attended a hearing and was cleared to fight. Unnecessary clarification seeing as we all know the fight took place. The key questions have not been answered (or indeed asked in certain cases) by those involved. The boxing public are still none the wiser as to what was actually said in this hearing or what the findings were. Statements from Whyte, his promoter and even the British Boxing Board of Control have all provided more questions than answers; appearing to be little more than fluffed PR exercises.
Reading between the lines, which we have to do with lack of any further information, Whyte tested positive, was then summoned to a hearing and subsequently allowed to box against Rivas. If this is proven to be the case, then the process needs to be drastically overhauled. UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), whose A sample was tested positive, and the British Boxing Board of Control are the ones who need to be investigated, if they allowed the fight to happen while a potential B sample is being tested. Again, it is worth reiterating that we don’t know if that is the case, because their statement clarified precisely nothing.
The plot thickens as the procedure apparently enables the opponent to remain blissfully unaware of any adverse findings. Again, if that is correct then this needs to be addressed. In a single weekend where 2 combatants have tragically lost their lives we are once again reminded that those who actually have the power to change things for the better remain unable – or unwilling – to do so.
Eddie Hearn has taken a lot of criticism, as he always does, but it is difficult to see what he could have done differently from a regularity point of view. He has made it very clear that he followed procedures and Whyte “was cleared to fight”, however many arguments have been made regarding his duty of care to all boxers on his shows. The fact the laws dictate he can neglect to tell Rivas that Whyte failed a PED test is abhorrent but it isn’t Hearn’s fault. The morality of such a decision can be (and is being) questioned however this is not unique to Hearn. Hearn’s problem is that he has worked so hard to make himself approachable for interviews in order to build the Matchroom brand, it is becoming easier and easier to pinpoint his hypocrisy.
This Boxing Social clip is just one currently circulating social media where Hearn rhetorically dismisses the idea of fighting in America for the exact situation that has occurred here.
— highfieldboxing (@highfieldboxing) July 24, 2019
Again, this is not unique to Hearn. The US promoters are only to happy to stick the boot in here, yet have far from perfect testing themselves. Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao recently met without having any form of VADA testing at all. Frank Warren has made his thoughts clear, again on boxingscene.com, yet still promotes shows involving boxers who have previously failed tests.
Whatever comes of Whyte’s current predicament, rest assured he will be back boxing in big events as long as he puts bums on seats. That is the sad truth of the situation. Those in a position to make a difference, those who verbally chastise drug cheats, are all too happy to stick their heads in the sand when it suits their interests.