FOLLOWING yesterday’s BN exclusive regarding Conor Benn’s suspension by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), we have today received news that UKAD have indeed formally charged Benn over his two positive performance-enhancing drug tests last year.
Confirming the 26-year-old has been charged under article 2.2 of their rules for “use”, a UKAD statement issued this afternoon explained: “Following reports in the media and comments made by professional boxer Mr Conor Benn on Tuesday 18 April 2023, and in exceptional circumstances, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) confirms that Mr Benn was notified and provisionally suspended by UKAD on 15 March 2023 in accordance with the UK Anti-Doping Rules.
“Whilst provisionally suspended Mr Benn is prohibited from participating in any capacity (or assisting another Athlete in any capacity) in a Competition, Event or activity that is organised, convened, authorised or recognised by the British Boxing Board of Control or any other World Anti-Doping Code-compliant sport.
“UKAD can also confirm that on 3 April 2023 it charged Mr Benn with an Article 2.2 violation for the alleged Use of a Prohibited Substance (clomifene). The charge against Mr Benn is pending and will now follow the Results Management process in accordance with the UK Anti-Doping Rules.
“UKAD issues this statement in accordance with its Policy on Public disclosure of provisional suspensions and charges and Articles 7.10.7 and 7.11.5 of the UK Anti-Doping Rules. UKAD will not be providing any further comment at this stage.”
Within an hour of Matt Christie and Boxing News breaking the Benn and UKAD story on Tuesday (April 18), Benn took to social media platform Twitter to offer his view of what was going on, so keen was he to either get ahead of the news or do all he could to offer his own spin on what it all meant. Alas, he failed on both accounts. “I can’t comment on anything to do with UKAD other than to say that I am in touch with them,” he wrote. “Someone at the BBBofC or UKAD obviously wanted to create a headline unlike the (Amir) Khan case where it was kept quiet for 14 months but this is nothing new. I remain free to fight outside the UK.”
Benn added: “This isn’t even about my innocence anymore. It’s all politics. You can’t keep a good man down.”
Be that as it may, UKAD, given the speed with which they issued their latest statement concerning Benn’s case, will likely beg to differ. For while Benn, 21-0 (14), has maintained his innocence from the outset, and has stressed he is and has only ever been a “clean athlete”, the emphasis now is surely on finding some sort of resolution, one way or another.
This Benn may have felt he was edging towards when, in February, he was cleared by the WBC over intentional doping, with them suggesting his positive performance-enhancing drug test could have merely been the result of a high consumption of eggs. However, the WBC’s clearing, and willingness to reinstate him in their rankings, ultimately did nothing for Benn’s ability to fight in the UK, where every one of his pro fights to date has taken place. Moreover, the ban administered to him by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) had Benn and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, eyeing fights abroad – namely, in the Middle East – in order to get his career back on track and make up for lost time.
Indeed, only a few weeks ago it seemed the pair had their enthusiasm back, as well as their hope. Date and location secured, it appeared as though they had their pick of opponents, too, with Manny Pacquiao, Kell Brook and Chris Eubank Jnr, Benn’s old nemesis, all apparently interested and ready to welcome Benn back to the sport.
And yet, more recently that talk has quietened down and Eubank Jnr, for one, has taken to setting his sights elsewhere (by all accounts agreeing to a rematch with Liam Smith at some point this year). Even Benn and Hearn, once so voracious and certain in their efforts to sell this proposed June 3 comeback fight, have hardly mentioned it of late, which, in the eyes of some, proved to be a red flag too large to ignore.
Now, in light of UKAD’s latest statement, it would appear obvious as to why that initial fire no longer burns so brightly. For if Benn fights in Abu Dhabi on June 3, there would, under UKAD rules, be a lot more to lose for him – and everyone else involved in that questionable decision – than the mere matter of a fight.
Benn, though, remains combative about it all. He returned to social media, as is now his custom, to comment on today’s news, telling the world: “I am involved in a confidential procedure and I have respected my confidentiality obligations. Yet each day brings a new leak and a misrepresentation of what’s actually happening.
“There is no news. Being “charged” is a start of a process by which an athlete has to defend themselves. I have not been sanctioned by anyone and I’m not banned from boxing. I remain free to fight in events that are not sanctioned by the BBBoC. I don’t even have a BBBoC licence.”
For the good of all, it would seem, at the very least, this case is longer in danger of by being decided in the court of public opinion. For the good of all, we look to be edging ever closer to the truth.