TONY THOMPSON tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a prohibited substance, after his second bout with David Price. The fight took place in July 2013 but the test result has only now come to light. More baffling still, the 18 month ban he was subsequently handed was dated to begin on November 23 2013 lasting until May 25 of this year, expiring before the ruling itself was made public. His punishment therefore ended before we even knew about Thompson’s violation.
Hydrochlorothiazide, banned because it’s a diuretic or masking agent, is found in medication used to treat high blood pressure. Thompson had recorded ‘high blood pressure’ in a medical declaration ahead of the fight. He did not have a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) before the fight, though he was allowed to apply for a retroactive TUE. In 2013 he told UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) he wished to apply for a TUE but he did not go on to provide them with sufficient information.
At a hearing UKAD accepted that Thompson’s use of hydrochlorothiazide was therapeutic and not intended to enhance his performance but that he was at a high degree of fault because athletes must do everything they can to avoid ingesting a prohibited substance. The American is an experienced international competitor but was also banned by the Austrian Boxing Federation for 12 months after testing positive for hydrochlorothiazide later in 2013.
The tribunal’s decision noted while “his attitude towards the anti-doping process can be described as lackadaisical at best, at no point did he display mischevious or dishonest intent”.
In Britain he was given an 18 month ban, rather than the full two years.
It is unusual for a decision to come out after the ban itself has expired. UKAD though don’t comment on or publish decision until due legal process has been completed. A spokesperson for UKAD stated, “The decision of the UK’s independent National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) in relation to Tony Thompson was recently made available to the public in the current sanctions section of the UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) website. As per UKAD’s normal processes and as per the requirement under the World Anti-Doping Code, sanctions are published once due process, including all appeal windows, have been concluded.
“In the Thompson case, the decision was published after the ban concluded because the athlete instigated a lengthy legal process, including filing an appeal which he failed to progress and which was ultimately dismissed.“
Speaking to Boxing News, Robert Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control said, “They don’t announce it until all procedures have gone through, so that means the hearing and the appeal.
“We weren’t very happy it wasn’t announced in the beginning because when we used to do dope test hearings we used to suspend someone straightaway, do the hearing and the appeal but they do it differently. They do it for everybody differently.
“Ultimately we have handed over everything to do with dope testing to UKAD because they are the authority, they deal with the other sports in the country, so we have to sign up for their procedures.
“To be a proper authority we have to work with UKAD. It’s easier for them, because they are experts, to deal with appeals etc. We’re not the experts so let them deal with it. It was a medical issue [in this case]. If he had declared [properly] they would have accepted it.”
Thoughts still turn to David Price, who hasn’t looked the same since his back-to-back defeats to Thompson, mostly recently losing to Erkan Teper in two rounds in a European heavyweight title fight. Whether knowing about Thompson’s violation it would have made a difference to Price, we can’t say. But he had a right to know. We all did.