Heavyweight Tyrone Spong Test Positive for Clomiphene, Usyk Fight Cancelled
By: Jesse Donathan
It’s time to re-evaluate the conventional paradigm of what constitutes cheating and a level field of play in combat sports. According to an October 7, 2019 ESPN.com article titled, “Tyrone Spong fails drug test, fight vs. Oleksandr Usyk called off,” you can count the undefeated professional boxer and kickboxing legend Tyrone Spong among the long list of performance enhancing drug (PED) users in combat sports. It’s a list that includes Jon Jones, Brock Lesnar and more recently heavyweight Dillian Whyte. With so many high-profile athletes testing positive for prohibited substances, its increasingly clear their use is more common than one might initially think.
According to ESPN.com Senior Writer Dan Rafael, “Heavyweight Tyrone Spong tested positive for a banned substance, leaving 2018 fighter of the year and former undisputed cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk in search of a new opponent.” The report goes on to state, “Now Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is on the hunt for a new opponent after Spong tested positive for the banned substance clomiphene.”
Clomiphene is an anti-estrogen drug commonly used by athletes as an accompanying medication to anabolic steroid use, in this context its general purpose is to combat the metabolization of exogenous testosterone into estrogen. Anabolic steroids are synthetic derivatives of testosterone, which is a naturally occurring hormone produced in the human body that is responsible for any number of physiological traits most often associated with men.
As reported in an August 2, 2019 payitforwardfertility.org article titled, “How Does Clomid Help Bodybuilders,” Dr. Mirta Marsh weighed in on the use of clomid, also known as clomiphene, recommending that, “You should ideally not use clomid when you are also taking steroids. Complete your steroid therapy first, and then begin using clomiphene.” Also known as post cycle therapy (PCT), this methodology of training is common throughout the bodybuilding and combat sports communities.
According to the report, “When steroid substances are used by men, their natural production of male hormones is reduced. The longer they depend on steroids and heavier the dose the more it affects their hormonal balance. The level of testosterone keeps getting lower and the level of female hormones (estradiol, progesterone, and prolactin) keeps increasing. This results in the growth of female breasts in men, also known as gynecomastia, and it even causes fluid retention in their bodies.”
The addition of clomiphene to one’s performance enhancing drug use regimen is used to combat these negative side effects associated with PED use; it is also the mechanism anabolic steroid users look too as a means of jump starting their bodies own natural testosterone production after it has shut down from exogenous synthetic testosterone use. While clomiphene is used legitimately as fertility treatment in men, it is this same medical necessity and value that is most often cited as an excuse by athletes who return adverse findings for its use.
Though according to a May 11, 2010 New York Times article titled, “Common Thread in Failed Drug Tests Raises New Questions,” author Michael Schmidt writes, “Because these drugs are used to restart the bodies’ production of testosterone after the use of steroids, the sports might be catching the players only at the tail end of their steroid use, when they have already benefited.” Which could mean athletes testing positive for clomiphene who are not using it for legitimate medical necessity may be successfully evading detection for anabolic steroid use while only flagging for their post cycle therapies.
While it may be easy, even convenient, to call fighters like Jon Jones, Brock Lesnar, Tyrone Spong and others cheaters, according to MMA pioneer Renzo Gracie, “Everybody is taking (steroids). The difference is that Anderson (Silva) probably lost control of when the substance would be out of his body,” writes BJJEE.com in their March 12, 2015 article titled, “Renzo Gracie: ‘Everybody is Taking Steroids. Fighters Who Don’t Use, Can’t Compete in this Sport.” Thoughts which were echoed by UFC superstar Nick Diaz in MMAWeekly.com’s September 14, 2015 YouTube video interview titled, “Nick Diaz Declares All Fighters Are on Steroids.”
“That’s another thing I’ll tell you right now,” Diaz told MMAWeekly.com. “I know all the fighters and they are all on steroids. All you mother****er’s are on steroids.”
With recent high-profile positive tests from professional boxers Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, Dillian Whyte and now Tyrone Spong, perhaps Gracie and Diaz are correct in their estimations of exactly how prevalent performance enhancing drug use is in combat sports? If these two highly respected athletes are to be believed, that would mean the conventional cheating paradigm espoused by the vast majority of pundits and fans alike is based off little more than a naïve perception of how combat sports actually work.
And that perception only justifies the continued existence of the commissions, organizations and associations alike who have managed to turn the issue of performance enhancing drug use in combat sports into a for profit enterprise operated under the guise of fighter safety. If nearly every top level, high profile combat sports athlete is using performance enhancing drugs, perhaps its time to re-evaluate what constitutes cheating and competing on a level playing field in combat sports?
Joshua-Miller in Doubt as Miller Fails Drug Test
By: Michael Kane
Anthony Joshua’s U.S debut against Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller has been thrown into doubt after Miller tested positive for a banned substance.
Matchroom Promotions supremo Eddie Hearn took to social media and announced that he had been informed by VADA of the positive test.
We have been informed by VADA that there has been an adverse finding in Jarrell Miller’s sample collected on March 20th, 2019. We are working with all relevant parties and will update with more details soon. AJ’s preparation continues for June 1st at MSG.
— Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) April 17, 2019
The test, taken on March 20th from a random urine sample, has come back positive with a substance called GW1516 which is a banned performance enhancing substance.
ESPN broke the news, with Miller’s co-promoter Dmitry Salita saying he awaits further information and Miller is still in training for his June 1st fight.
Miller (23-0-1, 20 KOs) had been reported to earn around $4.5 million for his fight against champion Anthony Joshua, it would appear his chance has been blown with the NYSAC unlikely to sanction the bout at Madison Square Gardens. A negative B sample and supporting evidence would be required for any chance of the fight going ahead.
If the bout is cancelled, as seems likely, its unclear who will step in to face Joshua. According to Eddie Hearn, Joshua will be fighting on June 1st.
The obvious choice would have been Dillian Whyte however he has turned down an offer to face Joshua at Wembley Stadium in April, unhappy with the terms of the deal so it would appear unlikely he would travel to the U.S to take on Joshua.
Joshua’s IBF mandatory challenger, Kubrat Pulev, has recently been suspended by the Californian State Athletic Commision after kissing a female reporter after their post fight interview. His disciplinary is scheduled for May 18th.
A more likely candidate could be Michael Hunter (16-1, 11 KOs), the former Olylmpic champion has only lost once against Oleksandr Usyk as a cruiserweight. Since moving to heavyweight he has won the vacant WBA International Heavyweight Title by beating Alexander Ustinov by TKO last November.
Hunter seems to be interested.
Call me Eddie. https://t.co/1ck4qYJA19
— Michael Hunter ll (@MichaelHunterII) April 17, 2019
Billy Joe Saunders Team Issues a Statement in Response to Positive Test
By: Michael Kane
Billy Joe Saunders team have been quick to release a statement in response to report a earlier that Saunders has failed a VADA drug test.
According to the statement released on Frank Warrren’s website the product concerned is allowed to be used out of competition and the British Boxing Board of Control have confirmed Saunders is not in breach of BBBoC or UKAD (United Kingdom Anti Doping agency) regulations.
It suggests his fight in October is not in doubt.
The statement also says the product was a common decongestant nasal spray.
Following reports of an adverse analytical finding in a test carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (“VADA”) on WBO World Middleweight Champion, Billy Joe Saunders, we can confirm that the product concerned is permitted to be used ‘Out of Competition’ by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (“UKAD”) in line with the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”).
For the avoidance of doubt, the product in question was a common decongestant nasal spray.
The British Boxing Board of Control (“BBBofC”) under whose jurisdiction Billy Joe Saunders is licensed are affiliated only to UKAD/WADA.
Today the BBBofC have confirmed that Mr Saunders is not in breach of BBBofC or UKAD anti doping regulations and is therefore in good standing and is licensed to box and defend his World Title on October 20th.
Mr. Saunders has been tested a number of times in 2018, all negative, his last out of competition test by UKAD was on 24th September 2018.
Billy Joe Saunders Reportedly Fails VADA Test
By: Michael Kane
It’s not been a great few days if you are Billy Joe Saunders.
First he was fined £100000 by the British Boxing Board of Control for a video he posted in which he appeared to offer a woman money for a sex act then told her to punch a man walking along the road, which she did, Saunders then drove away laughing.
Photo Credit: Billy Joe Saunders Twitter Account
Now there are reports he has failed a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association drug test.
The reports suggest he tested for the banned substance oxilofrine, which is a stimulant. ESPN’s Dan Rafael was the first to break the news.
Saunders, the current WBO middleweight champion, is due to defend his belt against Demetrious Andrade om October 20th. However this news will put that bout seriously in doubt. Saunders could also face being stripped of his title.
Oxilofrine is a stimulant that can increase performance as it helps to burn fat, it could increase adrenaline production, endurance and help with the oxygenation of the blood.
Several athletes have tested positive for the drug in the past.
It seems Saunders has taken to Twitter to laugh the claims off,
😂 some shit 😂
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) September 27, 2018
Give Canelo a Break
By: Ben Sutherland
Earlier this week the news broke that whilst in training camp, Canelo Alvarez had failed a drugs test. As part of his preparation for his much anticipated rematch with Golovkin, Canelo had submitted himself to testing by anti-doping agency, VADA. It was one of these VADA tests that came back positive. The drug in question is Clenbuterol, a thermogenic stimulant that boosts aerobic capacity, central nervous system stimulation, blood pressure and the body’s ability to transport oxygen. In normal medical practice it is given as a treatment to people who suffer with asthma and other breathing related ailments. It quickens the metabolism which allows athletes to simultaneously lean down and gain muscle mass which is particularly useful for someone like Canelo, who frequently hops between weight classes. Boxers across the world have been quick to brand Canelo a drugs cheat, with the likes of WBO middleweight champion, Billy Joe Saunders, speaking out particularly strongly on the subject.
The word out of the Canelo camp is that this failed test was caused by eating contaminated meat and quite frankly, I believe him. Clenbuterol is often used illegally by farmers to add bulk and muscle to their animals to increase profit margins. This practice is particularly widespread in less economically developed countries such as Mexico. Animals who have been supplemented with clenbuterol produce contaminated meat, which if eaten can produce a positive test.
The first important thing to note about clenbuterol is that it is classified by the World Anti-Doping code as a non-threshold, non-specified substance. This means that even the smallest amount of clenbuterol can trigger a positive test. Therefore, the level of clenbuterol can be below the threshold of a performance enhancing level but still set off a positive test. Canelo’s promotional team have stated that the amount of clenbuterol found is consistent with levels found as a result of eating contaminated meat. This has subsequently been confirmed by Daniel Eichner, the director of the WADA accredited laboratory that conducted the failed test.
It should also be noted that this is the first test that Canelo has ever failed. He has been regularly tested in and out of camp for years. During each camp Canelo is tested over 10 times and until now has never returned a positive test. Additionally, tests conducted on Canelo since the failed test have also all come back clean. It should be noted that drugs like clenbuterol are effective when taken cumulatively over a longer period of time, and based off these test results, this is not the case.
Furthermore, this type of positive test occurs frequently across a wide range of sports. Tyson Fury was recently acquitted for a positive test which was triggered when he and his cousin, Hughie, ate a wild boar. Track and field athletes have also regularly failed tests and then have subsequently shown to be clean in countries like South Africa where clenbuterol usage is far more common.
Does this information completely exonerate Canelo? Not fully. However, the legal system is such that it is a case of innocent till proven guilty and there is as of yet, very little indication that Canelo has knowingly cheated. Don’t get me wrong, deliberately using drugs in boxing should be a criminal offence. In combat sports, drugs can give power advantages that can be lethal and should be punished accordingly. However, this test has all the markers of an embarrassing blunder rather than a malicious and nefarious attempt to cheat.
Ultimately, Canelo is responsible for the substances that he puts in his body and he has nobody to blame but himself. However, I highly doubt he has gained any performance benefits from this incident and whilst it probably warrants a slap on the wrist, the fight should go on.
Until additional evidence is produced, indicating Canelo’s guilt, give the man a break, the damage to his reputation has already been more than sufficient punishment.
Keep up with Ben Sutherland’s latest content on Instagram: @promotionsmd