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Boxing under Scrutiny over testing issues

Andre Berto Victor Ortizby Collie Moore: Boxing suffered another setback with the emergence of the news that Andre Berto has allegedly tested positive for the substance norandrosterone. The results of the urine test come just days after news of Lamont Peterson’s positive tests which led to the cancellation of his much-anticipated light-welterweight bout with Amir Khan.

Although details are sketchy, it seems very likely that Berto-Ortiz II will also be cancelled. The biggest loser in the situation however could be boxing, upon which more scrutiny and pressure will be now placed in what has been a controversial few months for the sport.

The use of banned substances is perhaps even more deplorable in combat sports, such as boxing, than in others, such as athletics or swimming, as a fighter’s health is on the line each time he steps into the ring against his opponent. If this opponent has taken performing-enhancing substances, it isn’t just winning or losing that may be on the line, as injuries can and do occur. Yet boxing seems to hold quite a relaxed stance on drug-testing: the two latest positive results were from voluntary tests. While this in one sense adds to the mystery to their outcome, it begs the question as to why such tests are not compulsory. Floyd Mayweather’s campaign to ‘clean up’ the sport seems more admirable in the wake of the recent revelations, although in Mayweather’s case there was no evidence that Pacquiao had taken performance enhancing substances. The issue in relation to that potential super-fight remains controversial.

Highly-rated 28 year old Berto claims he does not know how the tests came back positive. ‘I know that I have never used any steroids or other banned substances… I have never cheated, and all my success comes from hard work and dedication.’ Some suspect unintentional trace contamination, but maybe only Berto himself will ever know the truth of his claim of innocence.

It is yet to be seen how boxing will react to these setbacks. In what ironically could be seen as a positive twist, boxing commissions now have the opportunity to be seen to take action and potentially implement new polices such as compulsory testing and monitoring more closely substance intake by boxers. Even though boxing is in no means stranger to controversy, if action is not taken, the integrity of the sport into the future will be in serious doubt.

Attention will now turn to Victor Ortiz, who hasn’t stepped between the ropes since his controversial loss to Floyd Mayweather last year. Luckily, there is still time for him to find a replacement and the exciting prospect of Khan-Ortiz may now be whispered about. Such a fight would be a big money-spinner as both men are well-known but Ortiz would represent a difficult first bout in the welterweight division for the Bolton star. The date of a bout between the pair may also be one of many stumbling blocks. Devon Alexander is a possibility for either fighter at a time when many names in the quality-filled welterweight division are tied up for the near future.

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