Artur Beterbiev cleared to fight Callum Smith after returning ‘atypical’ drug-test result

The result is not the same as an ‘adverse’ finding, which might have threatened the champion’s bout with Smith

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Friday 12 January 2024 12:07 GMT
Cristiano Ronaldo's awkward reaction Conor McGregor

Artur Beterbiev’s title defence against Callum Smith will go ahead on Saturday, with the champion cleared to fight after returning an ‘atypical’ drug-test result.

It was revealed on Thursday (11 January) that Beterbiev had returned an atypical result in a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (Vada) test in December. However, the unified light-heavyweight champion has since tested negative and been cleared to compete.

Smith’s promoter Eddie Hearn said there was never a contractual reason to cancel the fight, because Beterbiev’s result was atypical rather than ‘adverse’, while journalist Kevin Iole reported: “An atypical finding is not a violation and requires more testing, and Beterbiev underwent those examinations at Vada’s request. Vada reported negative results from the follow-up tests, from urine tests on Dec 15 and Dec 21 and from blood tests on Dec 21 and Jan 3.

“Beterbiev had received atypical findings for human growth hormone (HGH) and 5D-androstanediol. Both occur naturally in the body. When an atypical finding is received, further testing is required to determine if an athlete naturally produces the substance in his or her body at a greater level than average or if the elevated levels were signs of anti-doping.”

Vada founder and chair Margaret Goodman told Boxing News: “Atypical findings are fairly common in PED [performance-enhancing drug] testing and do not constitute an adverse test result. They can result from various causes. Atypical findings generally warrant the collection of further samples, but no negative inference should be drawn from an atypical finding in and of itself.”

Smith told the publication: “It’s not a passed test, it’s not a failed test. The fight’s still happening, that’s the main thing. I’m not a scientist, I’m a fighter. I’m here to beat him, take his belts and go back home.”

Meanwhile, Beterbiev claimed in a statement: “It has come to my attention that Callum intends to disseminate misleading information about my Vada testing program for this fight.

“Let me be clear now: I am a clean athlete. I have never tested positive for a banned substance throughout my amateur and professional career and I complied with all Vada requirements and protocols during the build-up to this fight. Any attempt to imply otherwise, through innuendo or suggestion is slanderous and libelous.

(Getty Images)

“This conduct is beyond acceptable trash talk in combat sports. Callum is already searching for excuses, looking for a way out. See you Saturday.”

Russian Beterbiev, who fights out of Canada, has a professional record of 19-0 with 19 knockouts. The 38-year-old is set to defend the WBC, WBO and IBF light-heavyweight titles against Liverpool’s Smith in Quebec City on Saturday. Smith, 33, is a former super-middleweight world champion with just one loss on his pro record – against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez in 2020.

Hearn revealed on Thursday that Beterbiev has signed to fight fellow Russian Dmitry Bivol in Saudi Arabia this year, in a highly-anticipated unification bout. Bivol, 33, holds the WBA light-heavyweight belt and is also unbeaten. Hearn added that Beterbiev must beat Smith to ensure his bout with Bivol goes ahead.

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