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Dublin: 12 °C Sunday 15 September, 2019

Billy Joe Saunders tests positive for banned stimulant but 'licenced to box' in Boston next month

The 29-year-old’s positive test has been attributed to nasal spray.

WBO WORLD MIDDLEWEIGHT champion Billy Joe Saunders has tested positive for the banned substance oxilofrine following a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association drug test, promoter Frank Warren has confirmed.

Saunders’ failed test was first reported by ESPN’s Dan Rafael.

The 29-year-old Briton is due to defend his belt against American Demetrius Andrade in Boston’s TD Garden on 27 September, and in a statement released on Thursday night, promoter Warren insisted that the pair’s title fight is not in jeopardy.

“Following reports of an adverse analytical finding in a test carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (“VADA”) on WBO World Middleweight Champion, Billy Joe Saunders, we can confirm that the product concerned is permitted to be used ‘Out of Competition’ by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (“UKAD”) in line with the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”),” the statement began.

For the avoidance of doubt, the product in question was a common decongestant nasal spray.

“The British Boxing Board of Control (“BBBofC”) under whose jurisdiction Billy Joe Saunders is licensed are affiliated only to UKAD/WADA.

Today the BBBofC have confirmed that Mr Saunders is not in breach of BBBofC or UKAD anti doping regulations and is therefore in good standing and is licensed to box and defend his World Title on October 20th.

“Mr. Saunders has been tested a number of times in 2018, all negative, his last out of competition test by UKAD was on 24th September 2018.”

Josh Warrington v Carl Frampton - Press Conference - Grosvenor House Promoter Frank Warren Source: Steven Paston

The British Boxing Board of Control, who fined Saunders £100,000 as recently as Tuesday for a callous online video during which he offered Class A drugs to a woman on the street in return for a series of unsavoury dares, were always unlikely to take action in this instance as oxilofrine is only banned by UKAD ‘in-competition’, i.e it would have to be found in his system on the day of a fight.

His possession of a valid British licence, however, does not mean Saunders is out of the woods entirely: The Massachusetts State Athletic Commission could still conceivably ban him from fighting in their jurisdiction, and the WBO might yet decide to strip him of his title.

Saunders posted a tweet following the initial ESPN report, flanking the words ‘some shit’ with two crying laughing emojis.

Speaking back in April, Saunders stated his belief that Mexican middleweight kingpin Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez — who tested positive for clenbuterol in February — should be banned from boxing for life.

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