HUBBARD’S CUPBOARD – 27.5.17
By Alan Hubbard
The future of Britain’s most colourful and controversial boxer, Tyson Fury, remains in the balance. Unjustly so in my view.
The former world heavyweight champion, who hopes to resume his boxing career if he can clear his name after testing positive for the banned steroid nandrolone in February 2015 was belatedly to have the matter resolved at a hearing at UK Anti-Doping Agency’s London headquarters almost three weeks ago.
But this has been postponed, apparently on a technicality, with no firm date set for a resumption, which may be as late as October. Meantime the British Boxing Board of Control says it is awaiting the outcome of the UKAD hearing before considering whether to restore Fury’s currently revoked licence.
Fury had hoped the matter would be settled in time for him to box on the Billy Joe Saunders Copper Box bill on July 8. Alas not.
The delay is a shameful. I agree absolutely with promoter Frank Warren when he says: “That can’t be right. The man’s got a living to get and this thing took place early in 2015.
“It’s disgraceful. If they haven’t got their house in order after over two years you have to ask what is going on? It can’t be right. Guilty or not, no-one should be having this hang over them in sport. What message does this send out?
“So we are now hanging about waiting for them. It is ridiculous. UKAD should just sling the case out and walk away from it, rather than digging themselves a deeper hole.
“It can’t be right for Tyson who won’t have fought for over two years. This has been a debacle of UKAD’s making right from the beginning. How can they justify the time this is taking and the huge costs involved.”
One wonders whether Fury has been singled out for special treatment by the authorities simply because of who is as much as what he may have done.
“Tyson has said some stupid things, there’s no doubt about that,” says Warren.”But there should be no prejudice. Whether you like him or you don’t like him should have nothing to do with it.
“It should all be based on facts and what I can’t get round my head is why has it dragged on for two years?”
Why indeed? As far as I can ascertain this is unprecedented and Fury has every right to be somewhat peeved, to say the least.
Such an outrageous situation surely is worthy of investigation by the Sports Minister – whoever he or she may be after the coming election.
I understand there is some internal restructuring going on at UKAD at the moment. Certainly someone there seems to have got their knickers in a twist.
I am no great cheerleader for Tyson Fury, whose huge talent I was first to publicise a decade ago when I had my card marked about him about the towering teenage prodigy by the then GB national coach Terry Edwards.
I found him a pleasant and amiable young man but we haven’t spoken since I upbraided him for unnecessarily using foul language at a media conference a few years back in front of an audience which included women and young children. It cost him a £15,000 fine from the Board.
But I am unstinted in my admiration for him as a boxer and especially for his brilliantly constructed conquest of Wladimir Klitschko.
I believe the Fury who used so much guile and gumption to dethrone the Ukrainian would have beaten any heavyweight in the world that night. And it is possible he still could.
Of course his has been his own worst enemy in many ways, and the situation is complicated by his refusal to give a sample to doping control officers last year, apparently telling them to f***off, claiming he was being persecuted.
It has since become apparent that Fury was suffering from depression at the time, which is why the Board subsequently withdrew his licence.
Under World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules, refusing a test is considered the same as a failed test and usually results in at least a two-year ban.
Clearly, Fury’s mental state – which those around him say is much improved – has to be a mitigating factor, as was his uncle and trainer Peter Fury’s apology and attempt to bring the testers back.
All of this was meant to be presented by Fury’s legal team – led by top Canadian lawyer James Bunting – at this month’s hearing in London, but the case was halted when UKAD’s own lawyer Jonathan Taylor objected to a member of the three-person panel’s undeclared conflict of interest.
Given the fact these independent panels are comprised of senior lawyers, conflicts of interest due to earlier work are not uncommon, although they are usually resolved before the case starts.
This one obviously was not. How bizarre.
The tests on 28-year-old Fury and his younger heavyweight cousin Hughie were done around February 2015 when Hughie had just fought in Monte Carlo and Tyson was boxing in London.
There were traces of nandrolone – slightly over what is permitted – found in one sample from each of them, but not in another.
Prior to that, they had never failed any drugs tests.
As it was, Tyson was still allowed to go on and beat Klitschko and Hughie was supposed to be fighting Joseph Parker for the WBO title this month, only for a back injury to rule him out.
Tyson subsequently went off the rails, took to cocaine, failing a VADA test for that, and when UKAD went to test him again, he angrily sent them packing.
I have been writing about drugs in sport for many years and have never come across a case quite like this.
I also like to think I know a druggie when I when I see one – particularly in boxing. I could name at least half a dozen top
boxers I believe are, or have been on the juice – and the Furys are certainly not among them.
Neither have the sort of physique or persona that requires chemical assistance.
Nandrolone is a male sex hormone which can be created naturally in the body, particularly if the subject has eaten large quantities contaminated meat. It can help to increase an athlete’s muscle size, strength and power.
Both Furys were found to have marginal traces of nandrolone in their system but that they claimed this probably was the result of a high protein diet.
Clearly it is likely to be will be some time before the entire unnecessarily elongated process runs its course, perhaps well into next year as should he lose, Fury has 21 days to appeal. But WADA could also appeal against any decision, which could then lead to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) making a final ruling.
Whatever the truth about this unseemly saga it is evident that troubled Tyson has a far bigger fight on his hands than he had against Klitschko – or is likely to have against any heavyweight in the world, including Anthony Joshua.
I doubt Joshua would lay a glove on the Fury who so confounded Klitschko, though it would be fun watching him try.
Here’s hoping we get the chance to do so.