ALEXANDER POVETKIN’S challenge for Deontay Wilder’s WBC has been thrown into doubt after the Russian failed a drug test.

Povetkin was due to challenge Wilder on May 21 at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow. But on Friday VADA (the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) reported that Povetkin had tested positive for Meldonium. That is the drug that tennis player Maria Sharapova recently tested positive for. Meldonium increases blood flow which improves exercise capacity in athletes.

Wilder-Povetkin would be a significant event in the sport. Wilder is the WBC heavyweight champion and one of America’s most high profile boxers. Povetkin, his leading contender, has previously challenged Wladimir Klitschko for the heavyweight titles he then held.

The WBC stated: “The WBC’s priority is and will always be safety, fair play and justice. In order to continue to strive for the absolute safety of the boxers and for a just and fair outcome for all parties involved, the WBC is conducting an in-depth investigation of this matter.”

It’s unclear whether the fight will go ahead and what sanction Povetkin will face. The WBC is expected to make a further announcement in the near future.