British Board says not so fast to WBC clearing Benn in doping case
Welterweight will remain unlicensed to box in the U.K. indefinitely
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As far as the British Boxing Board of Control is concerned, England’s Conor Benn has not been cleared of his doping offense and remains without a license to fight.
The BBBofC, which regulates the sport in the U.K., issued a stern rebuke on Wednesday to the WBC’s ruling earlier in the day that will result in the return of the unbeaten welterweight star to the organization’s rankings and an announcement that it found “no conclusive evidence” that Benn had knowingly taken the banned performance-enhancing drug Clomiphene, which is used to treat infertility in women but produces increased testosterone in men and aids in burning fat.
Instead, the WBC said it found that “Mr. Benn’s documented and highly-elevated consumption of eggs during the times relevant to the sample collection raised a reasonable explanation for the Adverse Finding.”
Benn (21-14 KOs), 26, who relinquished his British boxing license in late October before it would have been suspended, was scheduled for a heavily-hyped 157-pound catch weight showdown with countryman Chris Eubank Jr. in a rekindling of the legendary 1990s rivalry between their fathers, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Sr., on Oct. 8 at the sold-out O2 in London.
However, due to intense public pressure, the BBBofC refused to sanction the bout and it was canceled four days beforehand when it was revealed by England’s Daily Mail that Benn had tested positive for Clomiphene in a urine test conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association on Sept. 1 for which results were returned Sept. 23.
It later was revealed that Benn had also failed an earlier WBC Clean Boxing Program drug test, also administered by VADA, for the same substance. Benn has all along proclaimed his innocence.
Although the WBC can restore Benn’s ranking and sanction a regional or world title bout involving Benn, sanctioning bodies have no say in who receives a boxing license. That is up to national, state or tribal commissions, and the BBBofC said it has no plans to do return his license until it adjudicates the case. It is possible Benn could seek a license outside of the U.K. with a commission that might not recognize his doping case at home.
“The British Boxing Board of Control Limited is aware that the WBC has considered two positive findings in relation to Mr. Conor Benn who, at the time the relevant samples were taken in 2022, was a license holder with the BBBoC,” general secretary Robert Smith said in a statement. “The BBBoC has not been party to the review conducted by the WBC and has not been provided with sight of any evidence submitted on Mr. Benn’s behalf.
“The BBBoC is aware that the WBC has concluded its own review into at least one of the two positive findings and reached its own decision…For clarity, whilst the BBBoC wishes to make clear that it respects the WBC, the WBC is a sanctioning body and not a governing body. The BBBoC was the governing body with whom Mr. Benn was licensed at the material time, and as such any alleged anti-doping violation shall be dealt with in accordance with its rules and regulations.
“The BBBoC has adopted the UK Anti-Doping Rules published by UK Anti-Doping, and those formed part of the rules to which Mr. Benn was bound. As such, the decision of the WBC does not affect the ongoing implementation of the BBBoC’s rules (and those of UKAD). The UK Anti-Doping Rules make clear what conduct constitutes an Anti-Doping Rule Violation as defined in those rules (and in the World Anti-Doping Code) and specifically set out the circumstances in which such violations can be committed by way of strict liability.”
The idea of strict liability — which means the athlete is responsible what is in their system regardless of how it got there — is not part of the WBC rules for its Clean Boxing Program, which apparently gave Benn an out.
According to the WBC CBP rulebook, section V, paragraph H, “For the avoidance of all doubt, because issues may arise…the WBC does not therefore employ or adhere to a ‘strict liability’ standard in anti-doping matters. In each case, the WBC may in its discretion consider all factors in making a determination regarding responsibility, relative fault, and penalties, if any.”
In the WBC ruling it said Benn enrolled in the CBP in February 2022 and provided a urine sample July 25 and that the result returned Aug. 23 was positive for Clomiphene, which is banned at all times (in and out of competition).
According to the WBC, it took months to get a satisfactory response from Benn and that it wasn’t until December that it got one in which Benn “denied at all times the intentional or knowingly ingestion of any banned substances. His defense against the Adverse Finding centered on allegations of potential laboratory analysis failures and irregularities in connection with the analysis of his samples and of the results of the samples’ testing.”
The WBC said it consulted with “several experts in anti-doping laboratory analysis” and concluded there “was absolutely no fault attributable to the laboratory that analyzed Mr. Benn’s samples. Further, the WBC reaffirms the unquestionable integrity of VADA and the sample collection agencies and laboratories which services VADA uses in connection with the WBC CBP.”
According to the WBC, Benn’s team did not provide “a detailed breakdown of his diet and supplement consumption that could have directly affected the Adverse Finding” until earlier this month.
“The WBC found that: (1) there was no conclusive evidence that Mr. Benn engaged in intentional or knowing ingestion of Clomiphene; (2) there were no failures in the procedures related to sample collection, sample analysis, or violations of Mr. Benn’s B Sample rights that would justify questioning or invalidating the Adverse Finding; and (3) Mr. Benn’s documented and highly-elevated consumption of eggs during the times relevant to the sample collection, raised a reasonable explanation for the Adverse Finding.”
Benn photo: Ian Walton/Matchroom Boxing
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Dan, I think you got that last paragraph wrong. It should read:
"The WBC found that: (1) the check from Mr. Benn's team cleared the WBC account, and (2) the WBC bought a story about contaminated eggs without any scientific evidence and with no burden of proof placed on Mr. Benn."
Benn has found his lifeline among people with similar levels of scruples and integrity. May they live happily ever after.
The WBC not having “strict liability” in its rules imo is making a mockery of its so-called “ clean boxing program”.
Thankfully UKAD and the BBBofC follow WADA rules which do include “strict liability” and so Benn should be held responsible for whatever is found in his body. This could lead to at least a 2 year ban for Benn.
There’s a couple of aspects of this case that I find troubling, in addition to the WBC’s stance on no “strict liability”.
(1) Benn failed 2 VADA tests taken on July 25th and September 1st.
Are we to believe that Benn just happened to be taking 30 - 34 eggs on both occasions?
(2) If Benn’s explanation for both drug failures was eating a large amount of eggs then why did Benn’s lawyers tell the WBC that the failures must have been due to contamination at the labs involved?
There’s a hell of an eggy fart whiff surrounding Benn and his explanation for these drug failures.