Last year, Conor Benn’s fight with Chris Eubank Jr. was scheduled to be a career-defining one for both men.
However, Benn claims that the aftermath of the fight’s cancellation has seriously questioned boxing’s drug testing procedures. The fight never took place.
The two were scheduled to fight nearly exactly 30 years after their fathers did so in two bouts that captivated a generation of boxing fans. Benn and Eubank Jr. were not just fighting for glory. Family honor was at stake in this conflict.
However, on the day of the fight, it became public knowledge that Benn had failed a drug test. Benn tested positive for the fertility drug clomiphene, which is used by women who have trouble ovulating. The fight was called off.
Benn denied any wrongdoing on multiple occasions, and in February 2023, the World Boxing Council (WBC) issued a statement acquitting Benn of any wrongdoing. The statement stated that despite the fact that Benn’s urine test indicated the presence of prohibited substances, Benn’s “highly-elevated consumption of eggs” prior to the test offered a “reasonable explanation” for his failed test. Benn was found to have failed the test.
The 26-year-old Benn has criticized the investigation and expressed his concerns about the process’s transparency, particularly targeting the WBC and the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC), the Great Britain’s governing body for professional boxing. He has welcomed the news that he may return to the sport.
Benn said, “the manner in which I’ve been cleared has seemed to create further questions and add further fuel to baseless negative speculation” in a statement that he posted last week on his Instagram story.
Clomiphene may increase testosterone levels in men “by interfering with the negative feedback loop of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis,” as stated by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited anti-estrogenic substances also includes the drug.
While Benn was “grateful for the ultimate finding” of being declared “innocent of being a drugs cheat,” he couldn’t wait to comment on the entire investigation, according to his Instagram statement in response to the ruling.
“I was only willing to accept it because it was the right choice. By my reputation and my family’s name is worth more to me than that,” he wrote. “The easy option would have been to accept a six-month ban, save myself a huge legal bill, and simply move on.”
Benn wrote, “At no point did I indicate that I failed any VADA tests because of contaminated eggs.” He was referring to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), a third-party testing agency used by fighters to ensure a clean bout. VADA conducted Benn’s test.
He wrote that he provided the body with a 270-page report, stating, “As part of its lengthy investigation, the WBC instructed its own experts to review my supplements and diet, and they concluded that egg contamination was the most likely cause.”
Benn continued, However, I believe the WBC statement did my defense a disservice because it was based on a thorough scientific review of the testing procedures, which outlined a number of reasons why we believed the results were completely unreliable and demonstrated my innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.
At the time of publication, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) and the BBC of C are still looking into Benn.
In his statement, he criticized the BBCofC’s handling of his case.
“As for the BBBoC, they attacked me both publicly and privately during the most difficult time of my life, treating me with the utmost contempt and with no regard for the fair process or my mental state.”
Following the WBC’s February announcement, the BBCofC issued their own Twitter statement stating that it was not “party to the review” and had not seen “any evidence provided on Mr. Benn’s behalf.”
“It respects the WBC, but the WBC is a sanctioning body and not a governing body,” it added. Since Mr. Benn was licensed by the BBCofC at the relevant time, any alleged anti-doping violation will be dealt with in accordance with its policies and procedures.
It stated that the BBCofC adheres to the UK Anti-Doping Rules established by UKAD and that “the decision of the WBC does not affect the ongoing implantation of the BBCofC’s rules (and those of UKAD).”
The BBC of C has been contacted by CNN for comment. When given the chance, UKAD declined to comment.
Benn’s sample and test were found to have “no failures in the procedures,” according to the WBC’s February ruling.
However, Benn stated that he believed there was a lack of transparency throughout the investigation, claiming that his sample tested negative three times but was tested positive “without explanation” nine days later.
Benn claims that he requested that his B sample from the drug test be tested as soon as possible. According to the World Anti-Doping Agency, this “affords the athlete the opportunity to have second analysis performed in the event their A sample returns” a positive result.
In his statement, Benn also said that he had been told to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Benn stated that prior to the October test, he had never tested positive for a prohibited substance, bolstering his belief that the result was a “testing error.”
Despite Benn’s current assertion that he needed to focus on “rebuilding” his career, the process has raised “serious concerns about the whole testing system” in boxing.
“Obviously, anti-doping safeguards are very important, but so is ensuring that individuals are given the necessary evidence and are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Cheaters ought to be caught and punished, but individuals like me who demonstrate their innocence ought to be acquitted and permitted to continue their careers.
Benn stated, “I have had suicidal thoughts throughout the whole process.” I never thought I’d live to see another day.
Benn stated in a TalkTV interview with Piers Morgan, “It’s hurt me.” I wasn’t sure I would make it through this time. I didn’t think I would make it this far.
Benn responded, “Yes,” when asked if he had felt suicidal. Yeah. Yes, I would say so, and it irritates me now because I am unsure how I became so bad. I became extremely negative about it.
I felt bad about something I had never done. I’m human, so I could have done something wrong. I would say, “I made a mistake,” or whatever it was, with my hands raised. Never again!
“I felt like the incompetence of someone else had ruined seven years of hard work and sacrifice, leaving my family, and my image. The family has felt the pain.
Eddie Hearn, Matchroom’s boss, and the promoter of the fight at the time of Benn’s positive test last year, were keen for the fight to go ahead despite being “prohibited” by the BBBofC. Hearn stated this to the BBC at the time: The BBBofC does not endorse the fight at this time. That does not mean that the battle is over, but there is a procedure we must follow.
Conor Benn is free to fight and not under any suspension. The lawyers are having a lot of fun.
In the midst of mounting public tension and wellbeing concerns, the battle was dropped.
The decision to stage a fight with a fighter who had tested positive for a banned substance and overlook potential safety concerns led to criticism that boxing prioritizes the money-making opportunities of the fight over the boxers’ safety.
A few weeks later, the BBBofC stated that Benn had voluntarily given up his license with the governing body just before the allegations of Benn’s misconduct were confirmed.
Benn said that the BBBofC’s procedure was “unfair and biased.” He also disputes the claim that he gave up his license.
A statement posted on Benn’s Twitter at the time stated, “(Benn) strongly refutes the allegation of misconduct (which, for the avoidance of doubt, is not in relation to the Vada issue) and firmly believes that an independent tribunal will reach a wholly different conclusion.”
After conducting an investigation into the matter a few months later, the WBC made the announcement that Benn would be included in its ratings once more because it was determined that he had not “engaged in intentional or knowing ingestion of clomiphene.”