The boxing fight between Chris Eubank Jr and Connor Benn on 8th October 2022 has been declared 'prohibited' after Benn failed a random drug test by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency.
The long-awaited fight was meant to revive the rivalry set by their fathers, Chris Eubank Sr and Nigel Benn, who fought twice in the 1990s.
The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC), the sport’s governing body in the UK released a statement this week confirming that 'the contest between Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn...is prohibited as it is not in the interests of boxing'.
Boxing's Anti-Doping Rules
The BBBoC has adopted the UK Anti-Doping Rules, the United Kingdom's national anti-doping policy.
The Rules are consistent with the World Anti-Doping Code, the core document that harmonises anti-doping policies, rules and regulations within sport globally.
Under Article 2.1 of the UKAD Rules, athletes must not show any presence of a Prohibited Substance and any evidence of its use will result in an Anti-Doping Rule Violation.
Following a random anti-doping test by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), Benn's sample had "trace amounts of a fertility drug" called Clomifene which is a prohibited substance under the World Anti-Doping Agency's Prohibited List and VADA's anti-doping rules.
Clomifene, a hormonal medication primarily used by women to induce ovulation, is also known to increase testosterone levels in men.
So who are VADA?
According to GuideStar, VADA is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at offering and promoting effective anti-doping programmes in boxing and mixed martial arts.
Athletes voluntarily participate in VADA's anti-doping programme to demonstrate their commitment to clean sport.
Although the substance was prohibited, boxing promoter Eddie Hearn insisted that the board's cancellation of the fight was illegal as VADA has no jurisdiction.
In a statement released by his promotional company Matchroom, Hearn also claimed that Benn had passed all doping control tests performed by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), the British anti-doping body appointed by the Board of Control.
Why is Clomifene banned?
Clomifene is a hormonal medication primarily used by women to induce ovulation by stimulating the release of specific hormones. Whilst male use of the drug is not rare, clomiphene is not FDA-approved for use by men for any condition.
Both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee regard clomifene as a prohibited substance with its use resulting in penalties.
Clomifene (also known as Clomid) has been misused by athletes in the past to enhance their performance by boosting testosterone levels.
However, the FDA has said that “There are no adequate or well-controlled studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of Clomid in the treatment of male infertility.”
Will the fight go ahead?
Benn reiterated his stance against doping and said that all of his "UKAD tests have come back negative throughout [his] whole career".
Speaking to TalkSport Eubank Jr’s promoter, Kalle Sauerland, said: “We took medical advice. [Clomifene] can raise testosterone levels but the experts we consulted couldn’t see that it was giving an advantage. So on the basis of that we discussed straight away with the most important person on our side, who is the athlete. [Eubank Jr] was happy to continue.”
Hearn claimed that the British Boxing Board of Control “do not acknowledge VAD testing” and that the boxer had not committed a rule violation as Sample B, the second sample, had yet to be tested.
Should the BBBoC be adamant in their decision, the promoters could potentially find another body to sanction the bout. For example, in the past, a fight between David Haye and Derek Chisora was sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation as neither boxer had licence at the time.