Reports are circulating from Matt Christie of Boxing News and the Daily Mail that welterweight Conor Benn has been provisionally suspended by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) as the investigation continues into his two VADA-failed anti-doping tests conducted in 2022. The tests tested positive for the substance Clomifene, conducted on July 25th and September 1st, ultimately leading to his PPV encounter with Chris Eubank Jr, scheduled to take place on October 8th, eventually being postponed on fight week.
Boxing News and the Daily Mail have reported that Conor Benn was handed a provisional suspension on March 15th by UKAD. Benn, who the BBBofC licenced at time of the failed tests, now faces a difficult return to action as UKAD adheres to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) world anti-doping code. The rules of the code and UKAD’s rules and procedures effectively bar any person, organisation or governing body from facilitating a return to action for Benn.
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, who has promoted Benn for all of his professional career, is also subject to these rulings by WADA, UKAD and the BBBofC, who adhere to UKAD’s rules and regulations regarding athletes suspended by the anti-doping organisation. Any BBBofC licenced fighter, trainer, cutman, manager, matchmaker etc, would also be subject to the same rules and regulations.
Effectively any persons who facilitate or participate in aiding Benn returning to the sport would be at risk of sanctions and penalties and a possible suspension of any BBBofC licence.
WADA article 10.14.3 which covers persons and organisations facilitating a return to sport for athletes despite suspension (including provisional).
“Where an Athlete Support Person or other Person assists a Person in violating the prohibition against participation during Ineligibility or a Provisional Suspension, an Anti-Doping Organization with authority over such Athlete Support Person or other Person shall impose sanctions for a violation.”
UKAD article 10.14.1 also has its own rulings regarding persons facilitating a return to sport for suspended athletes (including provisionally).
“While serving a period of Ineligibility or Provisional Suspension, an Athlete or other Person may not participate in any capacity (or assist any Athlete participating in any capacity) in a Competition, Event or other activity (other than authorised anti-doping education or rehabilitation programmes) organised, convened, authorised or recognised by (a) the NGB [National Governing Body] or by any body that is a member of, or affiliated to, or licensed by the NGB; (b) any Signatory; (c) any club or other body that is a member of, or affiliated to, or licensed by, a Signatory or a Signatory’s member organisation; (d) any professional league or any international- or national-level Event organisation; or (e) any elite or national-level sporting activity funded by a governmental agency.”
Benn has always maintained his innocence regarding his anti-doping issues, despite being cleared to return to the WBC’s welterweight rankings last month. The WBC ultimately ruled that Benn had not intentionally or knowingly taken or digested the substance Clomifene.
Eddie Hearn has also confirmed to the Daily Mail that Benn is now co-operating with the BBBofC and UKAD with their investigation into his failed anti-doping tests after Benn previously refused to co-operate with both of the organisations.
Benn has refused to confirm or deny that the authorities have suspended him and has insisted that he can still fight outside the UK.
‘I can’t comment on anything to do with UKAD other than to say that I am in touch with them. Someone at the BBBoC or UKAD obviously wanted to create a headline, unlike the Khan case where it was kept quiet for 14 months, but this is nothing new. I remain free to fight outside the UK.’
He added: ‘This isn’t even about my innocence anymore, it’s all politics. You can’t keep a good man down.’
Eddie Hearn had been targeting a June 3rd return for Benn in the United Arab Emirates, with Chris Eubank Jr, Kell Brook & Manny Pacquiao leading as possible opponents for Conor. Texas and Australia had also been mentioned as potential hosts for the return of Benn. This is despite several U.S state athletic commissions stating publicly that they would refuse to licence Benn in their respective states, of which California and Nevada were two of the commissions to declare their intentions publicly.