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The questions around Dillian Whyte’s fight in Saudi Arabia

Dillian Whyte
Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing
Despite the process with UK Anti-Doping awaiting clarity, Dillian Whyte is boxing on the Anthony Joshua undercard. Matt Christie finds out why

THERE has been silence surrounding Dillian Whyte in the months that followed his July victory over Oscar Rivas. News broke days after the leading heavyweight’s 12th round triumph that he had failed a drug test before the contest, but he had been cleared to fight nonetheless. Rivas and his team did not know about the adverse findings until after the bout.

We were told that an independent panel – as per United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) policies – had concluded that no wrongdoing had taken place during a hearing on the morning of the fight. Yet we were not privy to the finer details of the case and – five months later – we’re still none the wiser. Legal battles continue yet Eddie Hearn, Whyte’s promoter, has been steadfast in his belief that the heavyweight was free to fight. His comeback was confirmed for the Andy Ruiz Jnr-Anthony Joshua undercard in Saudi Arabia this weekend. He will take on the fading Mariusz Wach in a 10-rounder.

“There were a lot of rumours he was banned,” Hearn explained in Riyadh this week. “But he has not been banned, there has been no further movement since the fight. We were told that UKAD would issue a statement in October. That hasn’t come yet. I don’t want to pass the buck, but I have left it to him.

“Since the fight he [Whyte] has been dealing with his lawyers. I say to him all the time, ‘Any chance of anything coming out? ‘We’re pushing, we’re pushing’. Hopefully this will trigger them to do something. Right now, he is not suspended, he was cleared of everything, but there still needs to be some kind of statement from UKAD on the case, on the hearing. It can’t just be me.

Dillian Whyte
Controversy shrouds Whyte’s bout with Rivas Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

“We do know there was a hearing for the adverse finding in front of the national anti-doping panel. All the evidence was produced and he was fully cleared to fight and he wasn’t suspended and is cleared to fight.

“Still, I would much prefer to stop questions, them [UKAD] coming out and doing something. You saw the Ryan Martin case [who was recently banned for four years], it took a year [to announce the punishment]. How long did Tyson Fury take [after adverse findings were discovered following tests in 2015]? The only difference with all those cases is Whyte has had his hearing and he was cleared to fight.”

Indeed, the Fury case dragged on for years. Even now, even after the former heavyweight king was handed a backdated two-year ban, the finer details of that case remain unknown. Whyte’s own reputation continues to suffer and appearing on an undercard in Saudi Arabia has led to further questions. Boxing News asked Hearn if the British Boxing Board of Control [BBB of C] would have allowed Whyte to fight in the UK.

“I can’t see how they could let an individual fight and then go back on that,” he replied. “Wherever you’re licensed you have to be licensed to box. The BBB of C have given Dillian the licence to box because their licence is mirrored off UKAD, so if he’s cleared to box – if he’s not suspended the Board follow those guidelines. If he’s not cleared to box or if he’s suspended, the Board would not give him clearance to box this weekend – and they have. About two weeks ago we agreed he would fight on here. We were looking for an opponent and we were sorting out his money.”

Robert Smith, General Secretary of the BBB of C spoke to Boxing News and he confirmed that Whyte was free to box. “He is not suspended,” Smith confirmed. “He can box and we couldn’t have stopped him from boxing, he has passed all his medicals. There is still a process regarding UKAD and we expect that information to come out soon.”

Certainly that clarity will be welcomed. Whyte’s reputation has been at stake for too long and, in a dangerous sport fighting against drugs, transparency must always be priority.

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