FORMER British and Commonwealth super-bantamweight champion Kid Galahad is ready to jump back into the mix as his two-year doping ban has been shortened by six months.
The 26-year-old claimed his brother Mageed spiked his drink, which led to the failed test for banned steroid Stanolozol in September 2014.
Upon application from his barrister, Dan Foster, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has shortened Galahad’s ban, making him eligible to box from March 20 onwards.
While specifics about the reasoning behind the decision to shorten the ban remain confidential, Foster revealed to Boxing News that Mageed provided a signed affidavit admitting to spiking Galahad’s drink while his sister provided evidence in court, alongside sports scientist Dr Alan Ruddock – who has worked with Galahad for years.
“It’s taken months of working with them to get to a position where they feel it’s appropriate to cut it by six months,” Foster told us.
“I believe he’s the only UK athlete ever to have their ban shortened without admitting to doping. Barry’s position is exactly the same as he’s always been so it’s quite exciting for him, he’s never changed his story.”
Mageed admitted to crushing pills – which included Stanolozol, a steroid typically used to build muscle mass – into one of Galahad’s protein drinks.
Galahad did not dispute that the substance entered his system, but maintains it was not taken in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage, as he did not know he had taken it.
All athletes who subscribe to the UKAD’s Code of Conduct must take full responsibility for whatever they ingest, which is why Galahad was banned in the first place.
Foster states that only a metabolite – the product of a drug once the body has broken it down – was found in Galahad’s system when he was tested, making it only just traceable.
“Nobody has ever said that the tiny levels found in his system are consistent with an athlete trying to gain an unfair advantage,” he said.
Galahad, unbeaten in 18, insists he is ready to jump right back in the mix, having kept himself focused on his return during his ban.
“I’m more than ready now. I’m in good shape, I’ve been on top of my training. I’ve been mentally and physically preparing for this,” he told us.
“I’ve been mentally getting myself ready, training at home, and just getting myself ready for this.
“There aren’t really nerves [about returning]. I know what I’m capable of doing, I just can’t wait to get back in the ring and do a demolition job on someone.”
Bans being shortened is not uncommon – athletes like Marin Cilic, Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay have all had bans reduced in the past.
Larry Olubamiwo – who admitted to taking 13 different banned substances – notoriously had his four-year ban reduced to just one year back in 2013 after providing evidence to help convict other fighters who were doping – something Foster insists Galahad did not do.
The announcement comes as the Tackling Doping in Sport conference kicks off in London, during which World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) President Sir Craig Reedie stated that lifetime bans for first-time offenders – like Galahad – are “not the answer.”
While Galahad is understandably relieved at the news, stigma could dog his progression as he makes his return to professional boxing. However, when probed on if that worries him, the Sheffield fighter remained unperturbed.
“Not really, because the fighting will do the business. What if I come back and I look better than I was before?” he opined.
“If I come back and don’t look as good, people would speculate but when I come back and look better, people will think ‘well he’s either still on the stuff or he actually didn’t do it.’ I’ll let my performances speak for themselves.
“I want to silence the doubters. Even though I knew I wouldn’t be fighting for however long it was, I’m not one to let it catch up with me and go out and start drinking, I didn’t do any of that. I stuck to my training and worked on the stuff I wasn’t so good at. When I’m back, you’ll see the difference.
“People only have doubts in their mind when they’ve done something wrong. If I was drinking and partying then yeah, two years of that would take its toll but I’ve not been doing that.”
Galahad does not yet have a set date for his return, but wants it to be “as soon as possible.” There is a chance he will box on the undercard of Kell Brook’s IBF world welterweight title defence against Kevin Bizier at the Sheffield Arena on March 26.
He is not concerned about the time he has spent out of competition, and does not plan to reclaim his old British, Commonwealth and European titles.
“People have been out longer than I have. Floyd Mayweather was out for longer and came back and looked a million dollars,” he said.
“It’s the mileage you put in – I’ve not got any mileage. I’ve been left on the shelf, that’s all. I’ve not had any tough fights where I’ve been beaten up.
“I’m willing to fight any of the names. Are they willing to fight me? I don’t think they want anything to do with a fighter like me.
“We don’t want British, Commonwealth or European titles, we want to get in there and fight someone decent and get back in the world rankings. I’m just looking to move on now.”