Hearn reacts to Billy Joe Saunders VADA situation
By Jeff Aranow: Demetrius Andrade’s promoter Eddie Hearn says VADA couldn’t ignore the positive test for Billy Joe Saunders for his failed test for the drug oxilofrine while training for his title defense on October 20 at TD Garden in Boston, Mass.
Hearn says that the positive test from Saunders couldn’t be ignored, because that would make a mockery of the sport if a fighter that tests positive for a banned substance is allowed to go ahead and fight.
What’s interesting is that Hearn is still interested in matching Andrae against Saunders in his next fight, presumably after Billy Joe has served out his six month suspension if one is handed down. WBO president Francisco ‘Paco’ Valcarcel said he was going to recommend a suspension to the WBO committee for Saunders.
“When you think about it, it’s a natural decision by the Commission,” Hearn said to IFL TV about Saunders not receiving his boxing license from the Mass. State Commission. “I see Frank’s comments today where he said, Eddie remained neutral about his position.’ My fighter is Demetrius Andrade. Billy Joe Saunders has just failed a drug test to fight my fighter. I didn’t want to come out and say he should be banned, because I didn’t want to influence the Commission. I wanted that fight. Frank Warren said, ‘Oh, he’s saving money now.’ I don’t need to save money. I want to put on good fights. That was a good fight for DAZN, so I’m disappointed. What is the point in signing up for drug testing, if when you fail, everyone just goes, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just let him fight.’ The argument about it’s alright with UKAD is totally irrelevant. You signed up for drug testing with VADA, the best testing agency in my opinion in the sport. If UKAD thinks in competition should just mean the night of the fight, you are telling me a fighter should be allowed to take oxilofrine and ephedrine to cut weight and get faster and stronger and potentially more to an opponent on the night, the British Boxing Board needs to speak to UKAD, because VADA’s rules are quite simple. In competition is 365 [days per year]. You’re a fighter. You can’t take performance enhancing drugs in camp so you can be more dangerous in the ring. It’s outrageous,” Hearn said.
Saunders’ decision to sign with VADA for drug testing put him in the position where he would be tested for the banned performance enhancing drug oxilofrine, among many others, and unfortunately, he was popped for that one. Since VADA doesn’t allow for the use of oxilofrine out of competition, it meant that Saunders was going to have big problems trying to get out of the positive test. If the drug isn’t allowed and Saunders used, then it puts him in a bad position.
“I like Billy Joe Saunders, and I really wanted this fight to happen, but he failed a VADA test,” Hearn said. “You can’t ignore it otherwise the sports a mockery. So we’ll see what happens. I think they’re [Team Saunders] going to appeal. I think the WBO will strip him, but we’re happy to fight Saunders. But Andrade’s done nothing wrong. He’s the mandatory challenger. He’s been training like a machine for this opportunity. He wanted it. But again, otherwise we’re a joke sport. He failed a drug test. You can’t ignore it. You can’t just say, ‘Don’t worry about it. Let him fight.'” Hearn said.
It would have putt the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission and the WBO in a bad position if the Saunders vs. Andrade fight had gone ahead and Andrade ended up getting badly hurt. With Saunders testing positive for a banned substance, it would have put the Massachusetts Commission ins a horrible position if Andrade ended up getting seriously hurt. They literally would have been taking a huge risk by allowing the fight to go ahead.
“We have three world championship fights on the card. I’ve got the arena booked,” Hearn said in why he didn’t cancel the October 20 card. “I’ve got seven thousand tickets in total, and I’ve got a fighter [Walter Kautondokwa] ready to step in and fight for a vacant title. I’m not going to pull the fight.”
Hearn makes a good point in saying that he couldn’t cancel the October 20 card due to Saunders’ positive drug test. Cancelling the card may have helped Saunders, but it would have hurt Hearn, because there are a lot of tickets that have been sold already for the event, and he has three world champions fighting on the card. It wasn’t just Saunders defending his WBO title against Andrade.
“He’s going to get stripped,” Hearn said about Saunders. “He’s going to get sanctioned. The reason Warren is saying it should be rescheduled is because is so Billy Joe Saunders doesn’t get stripped. It’s very simple, the WBO’s rules. If the fight is signed and that fighter cannot fight because he can’t get licensed and he’s failed a drug test, he’s stripped,” Hearn said.
The WBO and Massachusetts Commission both seem to see it in the say way that Hearn does in saying that Saunders’ positive test for oxilofrine means that he’s going to need to be stripped of his title. Saunders’ fate was sealed when the Massachusetts failed to give him his boxing license due to his positive test for the drug. Once that happened, the next thing that was going to be Sunders getting stripped. Fortunately, Saunders saved himself the ordeal of being stripped by vacating his WBO title instead so he didn’t need to go through the process.
“But maybe we fight Walter Kautondokwa for the vacant title, and we agree to fight Billy Joe Saunders next,” Hearn said. “We want this fight, and the fight is bigger now,” Hearn said about the Andrade vs. Saunders fight. “We’re not idiots. I know this fight is controversial. Billy Joe Saunders wants the fight, and Andrade wants the fight, but we also can’t ignore it when a fighter fails a drug test, because the whole sport is a mockery,” Hearn said.
Things will likely be a lot different if Andrade wins the WBO middleweight title, and then Saunders comes back from his likely six-month suspension handed down by the World Boxing Organization. In the event that Andrade is the new WBO champion, it means that he’ll be the A-side in the negotiations and will be able to get the bigger payday of the two. Saunders will probably need to take the smaller purse. With his huge ego, That might be hard for Saunders to stomach. Saunders will be back at square one as a contender after three years as the WBO middleweight champion.