By: Sean Crose
He may have tested positive twice for the banned substance phentermine, but that appears to be fine with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Athletic Commission, which is allowing Oscar Valdez to go through with his September 10th bout against Robson Conceicao in Tucsan. Valdez, the junior lightweight WBC titlist, tested positive in both an A and B samples for phentermine. Generally, there are consequences for such actions. Banned substances are banned substances, after all. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe Athletic Commission, however, sees things differently. The fact the test was given by VADA, the premiere anti-doping program in the sport, meant that the Commission could keep the fight on – for the Commission adheres to WADA, not VADA, and WADA is fine with phentermine outside of competition.
Victor Conte, who did time for attempting to distribute banned substances, is now a clean sport activist. Speaking to ESPN, Conte made it clear phentermine is banned for a good reason. “You know why it’s a performance-enhancing drug?” he asked rhetorically. “Because it’s a central-nervous stimulant…it accelerates your heart rate. It gives you energy. It gives you endurance. It gives you stamina. It makes it easier to breathe. Your training time to exhaustion would be much longer.”
Valdez’s team is arguing that green tea was the source of the phentermine in its fighter’s system, while the World Boxing Council, whose junior lightweight belt Valdez holds, isn’t ready to weigh in – at least not yet – on whether or not the belt will be on the line when Valdez faces Conceicao in a few weeks. “There has been media diffusion,” the WBC stated on social media, “of an adverse analytical finding concerning WBC World Champion Oscar Valdez. Pursuant to the WBC Clean Boxing Program Protocol, the WBC: (1) is investigating the matter (2) appointed an inquiry committee (3) will hold a hearing with Oscar Valdez and his team very soon. No further comment will be made until the WBC finishes it’s due process.”
Whatever the ultimate decision of the WBC may be, there’s little doubt such scenarios are not good for boxing’s perpetually tarnished reputation. It’s even been suggested that ESPN+, which is airing the Valdez-Conceicao fight, might want to make any displeasure on recent developments clear. Valdez, who knocked out the popular Miguel Berchelt, last winter, will be making the first defense of his title, if the WBC allows it, against Conceicao in Tucson.
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