DOPING SCANDALS have been rife in boxing in the last year or so with more than 10 adverse analytical findings revealed across the world including numerous high-profile athletes in major bouts failing UKAD, VADA and DFS tests.
Undisputed champion Alycia Baumgardner’s failing a Drug-Free Sports test led to rival promoter Frank Warren firing shots at Matchroom for employing additional testing that wasn’t the same standard as UKAD or VADA.
Ben Shalom has piled on criticism for Conor Benn failing a test and for Matchroom attempting to proceed with a Benn fight during an ongoing UKAD case and a provisional suspension- which has since been lifted by the independent NADP although the BBBofC and UKAD have appealed this.
It was revealed on Thursday by Kalle Sauerland, as Shalom refused to answer citing ‘confidentiality’, that there was no VADA testing for Chris Eubank Jr-Liam Smith – a pay-per-view event,
The defence has partially been that BBBofC-licence boxers are subject to UKAD testing and that is enough.
‘What more can we do?’ Shalom told Boxing News when justifying the lack of VADA testing for a marquee event.
It is important to note that Joe Joyce-Zhilei Zhang, Leigh Wood-Josh Warrington, KSI-Tommy Fury, Jack Catterall-Jorge Linares, Katie Taylor-Chantelle Cameron and other upcoming fights staged in Britain and Ireland have all employed VADA testing – some of the fights bigger than Eubank Smith, some smaller.
‘UKAD testing’ being sufficient begs the question of how much testing UKAD really does. Boxers like Anthony Fowler have gone on the record to say they have never been tested.
That is quite worrying especially considering that the 2016 Olympian’s professional career spanned five years boxing on big TV shows on Sky Sports and DAZN.
How Much Testing Does UKAD Do In Boxing?
There are 1070 active BBBofC-licenced boxers.
UKAD’s website shows that the organisation carried out 281 tests in 2022. 189 of these were ‘in competition’ and 92 ‘out of competition’.
This means that, on average, there was just one test on every four boxers throughout the whole year.
The level/stage/placement of the fight also dictates testing so it is more than likely that the amount of boxers tested in the entirety of 2022 is less than 281 out of 1070.
WADA defines ‘in competition’ as “the period commencing 11:59 pm on the day before a competition… through to the end of such competition and the sample-collection process related to such competition”.
Out-of-competition testing is the testing conducted at boxer’s homes or places of training through the ‘whereabouts’ filing.
There were just 92 ‘out of competition’ tests in 2022 equating to an average of just 9% of boxers being tested at least once out of competition.
There were 189 ‘in competition’ tests which means about 18% of boxers were tested at least once in competition.
281 tests in 292 boxing events in 2022 show that there was less than one drug test per boxing event in the year – a rather shockingly low number.
How does this compare to other sports? The Football Association conducted almost 3,000 tests in the same period, Rugby League had almost 600 and Cycling had 95 more tests at 376.
There is a lot of hypocrisy and misdirection in boxing but simply if you want to catch drug cheats and ensure a clean sport, UKAD isn’t enough. Major UK boxing shows should look to employ additional testing.
Neither Conor Benn nor Dillian Whyte failed UKAD tests in their recent doping scandals. UKAD is NOT enough.
There is obviously the counter-argument that the ‘BBBofC does not recognise VADA’ and a fighter failing a VADA test in the UK poses another set of questions as to who follows through with a positive result.
However, neither Whyte nor Benn fought after failing VADA tests. Boxing is far more dangerous than most sports and it must ensure that fighters with performance-enhancing drugs in their system are not allowed to compete.
EDIT: This percentage doesn’t take into account UKAD testing of international fighters on fight week.