In the last couple of days it has emerged that new WBA Heavyweight World Champion, Lucas Browne has failed the VADA drugs test following his clash in Grozny with former Champion, Ruslan Chagaev.
The substance in question is Clenbuterol, a drug used throughout the world to treat breathing disorders but also used by many body-builders and athletes as a way of stripping away excess fat. Clenbuterol is a legal substance around the globe although it is has never been approved by the FDA in America due to other similar drugs being readily available.
The revelations on Tuesday morning from VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency) President Dr Margaret Goodman, shocked the Boxing World and the new WBA Champion has vowed to clear his name in the wake of these allegations. VADA will now undertake testing of Browne’s ‘B Sample’ – at Browne’s expense – before any action will be taken.
The hard-hitting Aussie has insisted upon his innocence in a statement released by his promoter Ricky Hatton, vowing to:
“Fight as long as it takes to clear my name.”
Browne had catapulted himself into the spotlight from relative obscurity when he became the first Australian to hold a legitimate World Heavyweight Title on March 5th by beating long-time Champion Ruslan Chagaev.
This fight was held in Grozny, Chechnya – where the defending Champion is known to be personal friends with the controversial president and former Chechen rebel, Ramzan Kadyrov. This is not the first time a drugs controversy has surrounded a Chagaev opponent either, Fres Oquendo was also reported to have failed a drugs test following his Majority-Decision loss to Chagaev – also in Grozny in 2014.
At the time Oquendo’s team went on the offensive, singling out Timur Dugazaev as the man responsible for the bogus claims and some of the less-than-savoury moments during their own trip to Grozny, below is a statement Tom Tstatas, long-time advisor of Fres Oquendo, released in 2014:
“The stuff that happened to us over there is really unbelievable. Timur orchestrated the kidnapping of Oquendo to forcibly take him back to the arena from the hospital to make him take the RUSADA drug test against his will. Fres’ trainer was threatened in an elevator that if Fres knocked out Chagaev none of us would leave Grozny (which by the way, is a worry that also concerned Gilberto Mendoza regarding the WBA judges).”
“Timur then tried to extort money from us after our passports supposedly went ‘missing’ at the airport while the aircraft was on the runway about to take off. No, this is not a scene from the movie Argo or some cold war spy novel, but what our team actually experienced during our 3 days there.”
This is of course not proof that anything untoward occurred during Browne’s time in Grozny and by all accounts he and his team were looked after very well.
However, it is not a huge stretch of the imagination to think that a team responsible for the actions mentioned above (to a fighter their man had beaten) would consider crossing another line after their man had been sensationally knocked out.
Another new Heavyweight World Champion, Tyson Fury, made no secret that he would not be eating or drinking anything during his time in Germany after defeating Klitshchko for fear that someone could intentionally introduce a substance to his system that would cause him to later fail the drugs tests.
This is something I conversed with Browne directly about prior to his travel to Chechnya and whilst Fury’s paranoia may have seemed over-the-top at the time, he has not faced accusations of this magnitude now so perhaps he was right to be cautious.
Furthermore, it is worth noting that the VADA testing was something that Browne and his team had insisted upon during negotiations for the fight instead of the RUSADA testing (Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency) that Oquendo had been subjected to.
And when all things are considered, it seems somewhat counter-productive to insist upon drug-testing if you know yourself to be using Performance Enhancing Drugs.
Again, this is certainly not proof that Browne was categorically not doping, but it does lead one to question why he would insist upon such stringent testing that would only serve to increase his chances of being caught.
As for the ‘performance enhancing’ side of Clenbuterol, it is a fat-stripping drug used by body-builders and helps to increase metabolism by increasing the core temperature of the body. In boxing this could be used by athletes that are struggling to make weight and looking to gain advantage through quick weight loss.
However as a Heavyweight, Browne faced no such weight restrictions, he could come in to the fight as heavy as he liked and face no sanctions. So there seems little benefit in using such a substance for someone in his position who had little to no advantage in losing weight.
The speculation is set to rumble on until the results of Browne’s ‘B sample’ are made public, the public nature of this statement from VADA smacks of ‘guilty until proven innocent’, particularly with only one sample having been tested. The publicity also leaves Browne’s reputation exposed to public execution with him relatively unable to defend himself until more information is gathered and released.
With this in mind it may be something the VADA board take into consideration moving forwards, that until they are 100% sure of an infringement, releasing a professional athlete’s name will leave a stain on their careers that even proving themselves innocent could not wash clean, the irreparable damage will have already been done.
As for Browne, the Aussie public will wait with baited breath to hear more from their newly crowned hero and hope that this is nothing more than a false-positive test. Knowing Lucas personally, I highly doubt that he had the motivation or desire to win through cheating and even more doubt that he would do it with a fat-stripping drug as a heavyweight!
Whilst still insisting upon strict VADA urine and blood testing.
At this juncture the facts don’t seem to add up and the coincidence of Chagaev’s previous opponents being tarred with a similar brush leaves a bad taste in the mouth to say the very least – given the issue we had with the inconsistent timing of rounds during the fight and the ample opportunity to tamper with Browne’s food/water before and afterwards, it is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility to believe that this could be an elaborate set-up re-instate Kadyrov’s buddy as Champion again.
For now though it is up to Browne and his team to find a way to clear their name and fight this situation as best they can, many of the doors that had opened for Browne after his historic win will now be slamming shut faster than you can imagine so it is absolutely imperative they get on top of this situation soon.
More news will follow in the next few days, we wait patiently to see the result of the ‘B Sample’ in the hope that will put this whole mess to bed once and for all and clear Browne’s name.
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