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Victor Conte: Saunders tested positive for a drug 10 x more potent than what Canelo took

Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo Alvarez, Demetrius Andrade boxing photo

By Tim Royner: Victor Conte of SNAC says the drug [oxilofrine] that WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders tested positive for last August is 10 times more potent than clenbuterol, the substance that Saul Canelo Alvarez tested positive for last February.

Oxilofrine is a substance that is banned out of competition by VADA. However, WADA and UKAD permit it out of competition. Conte says that Saunders signed an agreement for VADA testing, which means that he wasn’t permitted to use oxilofrine. Saunders’ case is still being investigated by the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission and the World Boxing Organization. Saunders holds the WBO’s middleweight title.

Saunders came down hard on Canelo following his two positive tests for clenbuterol, which resulted in the Mexican star receiving a six-month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Conte feels that the substance Saunders tested positive for is a much stronger substance than clenbuterol in terms of helping a fighter lose weight in a hurry while maintaining power. In many cases when a fighter loses a dramatic amount of weight in a short period of time, they wind up weakened. Conte said he started suspecting that Saunders was using something in his last two fights when he went from chubby to slender in one month without it weakening him for his fights against David Lemieux and Willie Monroe Jr.

“BJ Saunders signs an agreement to be tested for a list prohibited substances. He then tests positive for oxilofrine & now claims UK Anti-Doping has a mack truck loophole in their testing program so it should NOT count? WADA & UK Anti-Doping need a wake up call,” Conte said on his Twitter.

Conte is working with Demetrius Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs), who Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) is currently scheduled to fight next month on October 20 on DAZN at TD Garden, in Boston, Mass. It’s unknown at this point whether the Saunders vs. Andrade fight will take place or not.

“I had strong suspicions watching his last two fights before this fight with ‘Boo Boo,’” Conte said to The Ring Digital. ”Willie Monroe Jr., a fighter I was working with, there was supposed to be testing. There was no testing until he got to the UK on Sunday, and they tested him on Tuesday and he fought on Saturday. If you look at the pictures, he [Saunders] probably weighed 185-190, and then 30 days later, he weighed 160. So that’s highly suspicious to me, and then the same thing with his next fight with Lemieux. He claimed he was doing testing, but once again we see the chubby guy that turns into the skinny guy in 30 days. It seems highly suspicious,” Conte said.

Conte wants a universal boxing commission to oversee things like testing to make sure that fighters are tested year round 365 days a year so that there isn’t a potential for them to use a performance enhancing drug/substance when there’s no testing being done by VADA and WADA.

Well, it’s definitely possible for a fighter to lose 30 pounds in a month before a fight, but what’s difficult is for that fighter to lose the weight and still fight at a high level. Losing that kind of weight in 30 days takes a lot of dieting and exercise. There’s a lot of muscle loss that comes into play in losing that kind of weight within 30 days. Conte is saying that Saunders was aided with the use of oxilofrine, which also goes by the names methylsynephrine . This is a stimulant drug that is found in some dietary supplements. The way that Saunders has gone from being fat to thin for his last two training camps for his fights with Lemieux without being weakened is highly suspicious. Before those two fights, Saunders looked drained and listless in his title defense against Artur Akavov in December 2016. Saunders looked just as fat at the start of his training camps for Lemieux and Monroe as he did for the Akavov fight, but he didn’t wind up drained, weak and listless for those fights compared to how he looked against Akavov. Saunders lost the fight against Akavov in the eyes of a lot of the people that saw the fight. This should have been an easy fight for Saunders, but he was so weak from having made weight that he lacked the energy to dominate. Saunders hasn’t looked like that in his last two fights, and Conte is wondering why given how quickly he went from fat to thin in training for those fights.

“To make sure that happened, I agreed to sponsor the testing,” Conte said about him choosing to sponsor the cost of the VADA testing for he Saunders vs. Andrade fight. “The performance enhancing substances they [WADA] test for is very limited. Yes, methylsynephine [oxilofrine]; people know this as ephedrine or ephedra. But years ago there was a product called, ‘Rip Fuel’ by Twin Lab that was very popular, and of course as a weight loss product. This is a very powerful and potent substance, tenfold more powerful than clenbuterol. So, Billy Joe Saunders saying Canelo is taking this is that’s like baby food and this is stake. So what he was taking opens up the air passageways. It was an inhaler he was using. It’s a central nervous system stimulant. It gives you tremendous energy. It increases speed, and increases power. It cuts weight. This is a boxer’s dream drug. So he was using something very potent on fight night, and this is a prohibitive substance,” Conte said.

The way that Conte describes the substance that Saunders tested positive for, I does sound like a dream drug for fighters that have to battle to make weight, and who need an edge to squeeze into a weight class that their bodies can no longer support. If a fighter has to lose 30 pounds of fat without it stripping muscle in the process, it’s probably not possible. When it gets to that level, that fighter needs to move up in weight to another division. Unfortunately for Saunders, he’s probably too weak for him to fight at super middleweight or light heavyweight. There are some serious punchers at 168 and 175 that would dine on a weak puncher like Saunders. It doesn’t matter how much movement Saunders makes, he’s not going to be able to evade someone like Dmitry Bivol, Adonis Stevenson, Badou Jack, David Benavidez

”The UKAD, the UK Anti-Doping in the UK does not test for this,” Conte said. ”VADA does test for this. So when he [Saunders] signed the enrollment form for VADA, the prohibitive substance list was there. This substance [oxilofrine] is on there. It’s on there for the NFL, Major League Baseball and NCAA, year round, not only out of competition.”

If Saunders did sign the enrollment for VADA testing, then that could be a problem for him if his excuse for the positive test is it’s allowable with the WADA and/or UKAD out of competition. If VADA is what Saunders agreed to for the Andrade fight, then it could be an issue for him potentially. Andrade obviously doesn’t want to win the WBO title fighting an obscure middleweight contender if the World Boxing Organization strips Saunders of his title. If the WBO strips Saunders, then Andrade could wind up facing little known Walter Kautondokwo for the vacant WBO middleweight title on DAZN. Beating Kautondokwo won’t do much for Andrade’s career compared to defeating Saunders. Of course, from the standpoint of following rules, it Saunders has broken he rules of the VADA by using the dietary substance oxilofrine to strip off weight in training camp, then it’s understandable why Andrade and Conte would be upset with that. It’s about having an even playing field where both fighters aren’t using banned substances.

”So apparently, he [Saunders] and his trainer realized there was a loophole that you could drive a Mack truck through, and they decided this is a way to drop 25-30 pounds in a short period of time, and give you all kinds of energy and enhancement in training,” Conte said. ”The sample was collected [from Saunders] on August 30. There’s another sample, we believe, and we believe this is also going to come up positive as well. This substance clears the body in 24 hours, so we believe he’s been using this substance for a long time, and he’s been tested, but they [WADA] don’t test for this substance. So he’s been driving a Mack truck through the loophole,” Conte said.

It’ll be interesting to see if Saunders tests positive for oxilofrine in another test like Conte believes. Two positive tests for the same drug would look bad for Saunders. It’s kind of late in the game for VADA to be releasing the news of Saunders’ positive test for oxilofrine. The fight with Andrade takes place in three weeks on October 20. If Saunders has been using the substance for the last month to strip weight, then he will likely have taken off a good portion of the weight already. Unless the the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission or the WBO is going to stop the October 20 Saunders-Andrade fight from happening, Saunders might benefit from the substance if he was using it in August and September to strip weight while maintaining muscle mass.

”The gains when you use anabolic steroids or testosterone, they carry on months and months later where you have the benefit in the ring,” Conte said. ”The object of boxing is to do bodily harm. It’s not running fast where the guy is in the lane next to you or hitting a ball over the fence more times than the next guy. It’s about brain damage.”

It’s a scary thing to imagine a fighter taking on another one that has had help from a banned substance. The substance that Saunders tested positive for isn’t classified as an anabolic steroid. It’s a stimulant drug that some athletes use to strip weight. If it helps a fighter lose weight without losing muscle, then it’s a huge benefit for them, you would have to believe. If a fighter can walk around fat until 30 days before their fights before they start using a substance like oxilofrine, it could help them strip the weight off quickly without sacrificing muscle.

”The model is VADA, it’s the best testing in the world. It’s better than WADA,” Conte said. ”It’s printed there in the contract. He agreed that it’s a prohibitive substance, and he took it. You have a number of parties and entities involved; UK Anti-Doping, the WBO, the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission, and VADA. VADA doesn’t adjudicate. They do their testing and give their results to all parties involved. It’s really up to the state commission [Massachusetts State Athletic Commission], but my understanding is he [Saunders] doesn’t even have a license in Massachusetts to fight yet, so there’s nothing they can do about his. So he’s claiming the UK Anti-Doping or ‘our list, we don’t test for this.’ We do on fight night, but we don’t in between competition. So we’ve been testing, and he’s been getting away with it. So they’re governed by WADA, and they have a giant loophole, and they’re taking advantage of this,” Conte said.

If one of the drug testing agencies doesn’t test for drugs like oxilofrine out of competition, then this is obviously going to be an area for concern from this point on. Boxers might be reluctant to fight someone if the testing agency in charge is going to allow them to use substances out of competition,

”This is a very powerful, potent drug. It’s 10 times more powerful than clenbuterol,” Conte said ”So all of these things he’s saying about Canelo, all of them apply to him. So apparently his trainer gave it to him. You don’t get an Albuterol or ephedrine type inhaler unless you’re going to a doctor. Does he have a prescription? Let’s ask him to provide that prescription, because you don’ go buy this at GNC. So there’s a lot of questions that don’t have answers. There’s lots of conflict of interest here. Anytime you have an organization that gets a percentage of a fighter’s purse, of course they don’t want to see this happen, because if they lose the fight, they lose the money that goes with it. The bottom line is he [Saunders] agreed to abide by the VADA rules. He knows the list was there and it was on it, and he was taking it and he was continuing to take it and he got busted. So he violated that agreement. That much we know,” Conte said.

If the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission are unable to make a judgment on Saunders’ case due to him not being licensed yet in that state, it’s unclear whether they’ll be able to discipline him for his positive drug test for oxilofrine. It could come down to the WBO. The question is would the WBO want to suspend Saunders and strip him of his WBO title this close to the fight. The sanctioning fees wouldn’t be there for the WBO if they suspend Saunders and strip him of his title to block the fight with Andrade.

“What’s going to be happen is yet to be determined,” Conte said. “I think the fight should go on if he agrees not to take the substance and he honors that agreement from now until the fight. Ultimately, this is why we implemented the testing because he was highly suspect. The substance can cause mild psychosis. His behavior is such that he’s doing such crazy stuff. All of the above points to this guy has some problems, and I believe he’s not taking this at a proscribed dosage, but in a super physiological dose that is causing him to drop 30 pounds in a month. So I think there’s abuse going on. I think there needs to be further investigation. I think Boo Boo needs to get some money out of this deal for tolerating the violating of the contract. We’ll have to see what they negotiate,” Conte said.

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