Tyson Fury will not get his licence back until doping case closed
Manchester-born boxer refused to give a sample to a doping control officer last year
The British Boxing Board of Control has flattened Tyson Fury’s hopes of a quick return to the ring by confirming it will not lift his suspension until his doping case is resolved. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA
The British Boxing Board of Control has flattened Tyson Fury’s hopes of a quick return to the ring by confirming it will not lift his suspension until his doping case is resolved.
The 28-year-old lost his boxing licence last October, a day after he vacated his IBO, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles citing depression.
However, the Manchester-born fighter had already failed a drugs test in the United States for cocaine and been charged with the use of a prohibited substance by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).
With Fury now back in training, UKAD is his most serious opponent, as his National Anti-Doping Panel was postponed earlier this month, with no date set for its resumption.
His promoter Frank Warren has described this delay as “a liberty” and said he hoped either the BBBoC or sports minister Tracey Crouch would intervene.
In theory, the BBBoC could lift his suspension at any time, but it is now clear it will not act until Fury has either been cleared by UKAD or served whatever ban he may receive from the panel.
He has not fought since his famous win over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015
BBBoC general secretary Robert Smith has said: “The BBBoC is awaiting the outcome of the UKAD hearing and at present his boxing licence is suspended until such time, after which the BBBoC will consider Mr Fury’s position further.”
There is also no chance of Crouch — or whoever is sports minister after next month’s general election — interfering in the anti-doping process.
The frustration felt by Fury’s camp is understandable, given the fact he has not fought since his famous win over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, a feat arguably trumped by Anthony Joshua’s thrilling victory over the Ukrainian last month.
There is also no doubt a Fury-Joshua clash would be a knockout at the box office and with broadcasters.
But it is also true that this is a hugely significant case for UKAD, which has a new chairman in Trevor Pearce, the former director of special investigations at the National Crime Agency, and has been lobbying government for more money and extra powers.
Fury and his cousin Hughie, another leading British heavyweight, have been on the agency’s radar since traces of nandrolone, an anabolic steroid, were detected in their urine samples in February 2015, a story first reported by the Sunday Mirror last June.
Both men have strongly denied any wrongdoing and they were not charged with an anti-doping offence until June 24th, 2016, the same day Tyson Fury postponed a rematch with Klitschko because of a sprained ankle.
It is understood these initial positives were not considered strong enough for anti-doping rule violations, particularly as follow-up tests did not corroborate them, and Tyson was allowed to fight Klitschko in November 2015, while Hughie has had five subsequent fights.
The boxer refused to give a sample to a doping control officer last year
But those suspicious samples made it inevitable they would be targeted for extra tests in the future, which is what ultimately triggered UKAD’s decision to charge the pair.
Tyson Fury’s position is complicated by something Warren has only recently revealed — the boxer refused to give a sample to a doping control officer last year.
“His big problem was, when they went for his test, Tyson told them to f*** off,” the promoter explained.
“He filmed it; I’ve seen it. He said: ‘What you’ve done to me is persecute me’. This is when he wasn’t feeling too good.
“Then (his uncle and trainer) Peter Fury found out and called them, an hour later. He said: ‘Can you come back?’ And they wouldn’t come back.”
Under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, refusing a test is considered the same as a failed test and the starting point for punishing a first-time, intentional offence is a four-year ban.
Clearly, Fury’s mental state is a mitigating factor, as is his uncle’s attempt to bring the tester back and the uncertainty around those 2015 tests.
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 legal representative 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.
Apparently, this one slipped through and a new panel must now be assembled, which is unlikely to happen until the autumn.
So any hopes Fury had of fighting on the Billy Joe Saunders-Avtandil Khurtsidze undercard in London on July can be forgotten.
A more realistic target for his return, providing the anti-doping panel either clears him or backdates a reduced ban and the BBBoC lifts his suspension, might be the beginning of next year.