Steve Bunce on Boxing: Drug cheats have to face the music at last

 

There was an innocent time when the great ring champions were happy with a thousand dollars of cocaine at the weekend or a crack pipe at the end of the day but now boxing is facing a moral crisis after a series of failed drug tests.

During the last two months, a staggering list of the great, the not so great and the unknown have failed tests in Britain and America for what are loosely and often erroneously called "performance-enhancing drugs".

Since the start of May, careers have been ruined on both sides of the ropes, fights dropped and history altered as the results have come tumbling down in an unprecedented period of revelation.

In Britain, three fighters have failed tests for a variety of ingredients ingested or injected in the days, weeks or months before their last fights. Two have so far been named and the third, a former world, British and European champion, is expected to join the shamed list soon.

The three British fighters are different in ability and culpability, and their crimes and punishments clearly expose the danger in the use of "drug cheat" as a label. They are all guilty but not all have been sucked as far into the ethical vacuum by their greed or stupidity.

The situation in America is far more severe, with the reigning world champions Antonio Tarver, Andre Berto and Lamont Peterson all failing tests after using a variety of steroids in a succession of dismal results that reads like a page from a medical brochure.

Peterson (synthetic testosterone) and Berto (nandrolone) were close to massive fights, which were both postponed, and Tarver (drostalone) had just retained a world title; he could now lose his lucrative job as a commentator on ShowTime, the American satellite channel.

Also, world championship belts have been taken from Peterson, who was due to fight Amir Khan, while Berto and Tarver are desperately trying to clear their names and get their careers and their legacies back. So far, small and rather pathetic fines and suspensions have been put in place, but it is clear that the failed tests will not, this time, be swept away and easily forgotten, which has happened far too many times during the last 20 years.

In Britain, the situation is slightly different because the heavyweight Larry Olubamiwo has come clean after a negative test in January and has made bold claims that the sport is dirty to its core.

Olubamiwo served five years in prison after making, as he puts it, the wrong choice to fund his university education: he became an armed robber so that he could get a degree in pharmaceutical chemistry.

Olubamiwo, who lost three of his 13 fights, admitted to using a sophisticated cocktail of 13 potentially deadly and banned substances. The fighter had been importing his steroids and had attracted attention back in 2007 from the American Drug Enforcement Administration and was part of a sting operation called Raw Deal.

Olubamiwo told Gabriel Montoya, the American journalist who broke the Peterson, Berto and Tarver tales, that he had made a mistake: "I got lax in my protocol otherwise I would not have been caught."

Olubamiwo's final words are eerily reminiscent of Ben Johnson and Charlie Francis in the seminal book The Dirtiest Race in History by Richard Holmes. Olubamiwo has been banned from boxing for four years.

Meanwhile, Liverpool's former British super-middleweight champion Tony Dodson has been banned for five months after a stimulant was discovered in a post-fight sample earlier this year. Dodson successfully argued that he had bought the product after finding it in a muscle magazine, displayed on the same shelves as both Boxing News and Boxing Monthly. The third boxer, who will be named shortly, is guilty of the same ignorance as Dodson. The British Boxing Board of Control has promised to look at the supplements that far too many fighters religiously take without a thought of their hidden illegal content.

Meanwhile, Olubamiwo, who was always far more eloquent than he was ferocious, could now follow the notorious Victor Conte and put his knowledge to good use in helping to detect and expose cheats.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sport
Arts and Entertainment
BBC series 'Sherlock' scooped a hat-trick of awards on the night. Benedict Cumberbatch received the award for Actor, Miniseries or Movie ('Sherlock: His Last Vow') while Martin Freeman won the award for Supporting Actor, Miniseries or Movie. Neither actor was present to collect their awards
tv
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Oracle DBA (Database Administrator, 10g, 11g, PL/SQL)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + £5k shift allowance, 12% bonus, benefits: Clearwat...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Sup...

IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

Qualified Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: This independent Nursery is looking fo...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis