Boxing : `Clean' McCall ready to face drugs test

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The Independent Online
Oliver McCall was warned to expect a drugs test soon after his arrival in Las Vegas yesterday for his vacant World Boxing Council heavyweight title showdown against Lennox Lewis.

McCall has recently undergone his third drugs rehabilitation programme, but stresses that he is "clean and sober" before Friday's rematch at the Las Vegas Hilton. "If the WBC don't test him, then we will as soon as he arrives in town," Marc Ratner, of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said.

"Lennox will not be tested, but fighters like McCall, who have had a problem in the past, we check out. We are not suspicious of Oliver, but these things need to be done. It's no secret what we are doing. Both men will have to take a test after the fight under our rules and the WBC's."

Frank Maloney, Lewis's manager, said: "The drug rumours don't worry Lennox. We think they may be a ploy to lull him into a false sense of security. We are not going to be fooled by it. We are convinced McCall will be in the best shape of his life."

McCall took Lewis's WBC crown at Wembley Arena in September 1994, winning by a shock second-round stoppage. After successfully defending the title against Larry Holmes, McCall returned to Wembley, only for Frank Bruno to take his title.

"It was before the Bruno fight that I had my first encounter with drugs rehabilitation," McCall said. "It failed, I went about it incorrectly. I was going to the clinic as an out-patient. I should have signed on full- time.

"The drugs and alcohol outside overpowered me. I wasn't able to sustain myself. This time I've controlled myself. I'm clean and sober and I'm training well. Drugs and alcohol are a disease. I can't control the disease, but I'm making myself responsible for my recovery.

"If I slip again there can be no excuses. I hope I get sympathy now. I don't want to be running the streets. I have a wife and six children and want to raise my family properly."

n Naseem Hamed's manager, Brendan Ingle, has dropped his objection to the appointment of an American referee, Rudy Battle, for Saturday's featherweight unification bout against Tom "Boom Boom" Johnson. Ingle last week demanded Battle be replaced by a neutral referee. "I didn't think it was fair having an American in charge," Ingle said. "But Naseem isn't bothered who they put in and said not to worry about it. The matter is now dead and gone."

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