BOXXER promoter Ben Shalom admits he is concerned about the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) in sport, and wants more to be done to tackle the problem.
Several high-profile fighters have produced adverse analytical findings in recent months, including heavyweight contenders Dillian Whyte and Robert Helenius, plus undisputed women’s super featherweight champion Alycia Baumgardner.
All three boxers have denied intentional use of the banned substances, but their cases have put the issue of drug use in boxing firmly in the spotlight.
Shalom admits it’s not a good look for the sport he loves, and believes action needs to be taken to make boxing better.
“It’s an absolutely huge issue in boxing,” Shalom said Mailsport when asked about PED use.
Ben Shalom admits he is concerned about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in boxing
Dillian Whyte is a high-profile boxer who has produced an adverse analytical finding in recent months
‘I think everyone agrees that there is not enough testing in sport. You have an underfunded board that doesn’t have the resources to test the way the sport should be tested. This is now an important sport. We strive to make the sport cleaner in every aspect.
‘For me the solution has to be to invest more in governance, to invest more in UKAD (UK Anti-Doping), which allows people to be tested more often, but under a jurisdiction where action can be taken, where they (combatants) can are. forbidden. I think we’ve seen different testing agencies, and to me that leads to more chaos and more promoter influence.
‘And for me the key has to be that the board gets more resources to ensure that boxers are tested more often, and that the sport needs a very, very strong, independent body. We need to ensure that UKAD and the board have the resources to test as often as possible, especially at the highest levels.”
One of BOXXER’s brightest stars, Caroline Dubois, recently urged promoters and governing bodies to come together and put more money into drug testing to protect fighters.
Shalom agrees with the 22-year-old prospect ahead of her first world title fight this weekend, revealing that discussions have already taken place about combating the problem.
However, he is adamant that as a promoter he should not be responsible for overseeing drug testing as he believes this could lead to a conflict of interest.
‘We are in constant contact with the board. We are willing to invest in more UKAD testing that the board can afford, especially for our fights, every televised fight,” Shalom added.
‘That’s where the resources and focus should go. To me, it would be wrong to conduct our own personal drug tests. The key is to clean up. That must come from the administrative body, it must come from more resources of the administrative body. And I agree with Caroline: it’s time for everyone to put their hands in their pockets.
‘The key is that UKAD needs to test more. It shouldn’t be my responsibility as a promoter, I don’t rule the sport. How can someone who makes money from the sport also manage the sport? If someone fails a test, it should automatically be in the hands of UKAD, and automatically in the hands of the board to monitor their process.
Caroline Dubois (left) has called for more investment in drug testing, and Shalom agrees this must be part of the solution to solving sport’s problem with PEDs
“Trying to argue that it’s out of jurisdiction, or trying to argue that they can’t decide certain things, that’s where the problem lies. It shouldn’t be in the hands of a promoter, it shouldn’t be in the hands of a boxer. It should be firmly in the hands of the board and UKAD in this country. That’s who it should be left to.’
Shalom’s frequent mentions of ‘jurisdiction’ lead us to the most high-profile British boxing case of the past twelve months, involving Conor Benn.
Benn failed two VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) drug tests ahead of his grudge match with Chris Eubank Jr last year, causing the fight to be called off.
Benn, the son of former world champion Nigel, has since fought to prove his innocence and was cleared to fight in July after his provisional ban was lifted by an independent National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP).
Benn’s team have maintained that the ruling was not jurisdictional, but this is at odds with Mail Sport sources who claim Benn’s case focused heavily on UKAD’s failure to rule on samples collected by VADA.
The British Boxing Board of Control and UKAD have both filed appeals to challenge the NADP’s decision, but Benn still returned to the ring last weekend after a 17-month absence in Florida.
Shalom was dismayed to see Benn back in action while the appeals process was underway, and believes this should not have happened.
Conor Benn (right) returned to the ring last weekend with a victory over Mexico’s Rodolfo Orozco
Ben Shalom believes Benn should have returned to the ring while an appeal is underway after failing two drug tests last year
‘I have nothing against Conor Benn. “I think he is a great talent and a great personality, but how a fighter can get in the ring while still under investigation for multiple drug test failures is beyond me,” Shalom said.
“I think until there’s an explanation for the drug testing, it’s ultimately a mockery of all testing and a mockery of the sport. It’s unwanted attention and unwanted publicity about what a great sport it is, and a sport that creates great opportunities where most fighters are clean and take their craft very seriously.
‘It is worrying to see that this is possible, and therefore a solution must be found. This is why there needs to be a uniform body where there is a uniform penalty, because it was a difficult week for everyone involved in the sport to see that and there is no way that would happen.
“It’s not a jurisdictional issue. This is an issue that explains why the fighter failed drug tests. That should be the only focus now, and that is the only way to protect the sport.”
Benn returned with a points victory against Mexico’s Rodolfo Orozco, and his promoter Eddie Hearn wants his fight with Eubank Jr. postpone to December.
Hearn last week accused Shalom of hypocrisy for his position on Benn by claiming that BOXXER ‘illegal approaches’ to his fighter to host the domestic showdown on Sky Sports.
Eddie Hearn has claimed that Shalom is interested in staging Benn’s proposed fight with Chris Eubank Jr. on Sky
Shalom has denied any interest in staging the domestic showdown, calling Hearn’s claim “completely untrue.”
Shalom strongly denied Hearn’s claim, putting the comments down to Hearn wanting to take the pressure off himself after coming under scrutiny over Benn’s comeback.
Responding to Hearn’s comments, Shalom said: ‘It is completely untrue and baseless. The timing of it was there for all to see.
‘It’s clearly just an attempt to avoid controversy. I want the sport to be in the best possible place but to try to bring everyone else down with this, whether it’s the board or other promoters or the waters are muddy, it’s hard to take a step back do and watch.
‘But no, there is never any truth in that. And it’s just another distraction tactic from what was going on last week.”