UK Anti-Doping’s handling of Conor Benn frustrates promoter Eddie Hearn

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Eddie Hearn criticised what he perceives as double standards from UK Anti-Doping over its handling of the Conor Benn and Amir Khan failed drug tests, adding the entire process “stinks”.

Benn twice tested positive for the banned testosterone-boosting drug clomifene in the build-up to a 157lb catchweight bout against Chris Eubank Jr, leading to the contest being scrapped in fight week.

While Benn has vociferously protested his innocence since then, UKAD revealed the British welterweight was last month provisionally suspended and two and a half weeks ago charged him with a doping offence.

Conor Benn, right, and Chris Eubank Jr
Conor Benn, right, had been due to fight Chris Eubank Jr (Steven Paston/PA)

Hearn, Benn’s promoter, said: “UKAD and the British Boxing Board of Control procedure is apparently confidential, so much so that Amir Khan failed a drugs test and no one knew about it for 14 months until conclusion.

“I’m coming out of press conferences and being told by the media what is happening about reports of suspensions and bans. I’ve not been notified or told anything of this. It is the most bizarre situation I’ve ever been involved in.

“Conor Benn, in my opinion, is not being treated the same way as other fighters. It’s a big mess and something doesn’t make sense. We have to go through the process, but the whole thing stinks.”

Anthony Joshua v Jermaine Franklin – Press Conference – Nobu Hotel London Portman Square
Benn’s promoter Eddie Hearn has criticised the handling of the matter by UKAD and the British Boxing Board of Control (Zac Goodwin/PA)

A UKAD spokesperson said on Thursday: “Following reports in the media and comments made by professional boxer Mr Conor Benn on Tuesday, April 18, 2023, and in exceptional circumstances, UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) confirms that Mr Benn was notified and provisionally suspended by UKAD on March 15, 2023 in accordance with the UK Anti-Doping Rules.

“Whilst provisionally suspended, Mr Benn is prohibited from participating in any capacity (or assisting another athlete in any capacity) in a competition, event or activity that is organised, convened, authorised or recognised by the British Boxing Board of Control or any other World Anti-Doping Code-compliant sport.

“UKAD can also confirm that on April 3, 2023 it charged Mr Benn with an Article 2.2 violation for the alleged use of a prohibited substance (clomifene). The charge against Mr Benn is pending.”

Despite relinquishing his BBBofC licence, Benn (21-0, 14KOs) was planning a comeback this summer outside of the UK with Eubank Jr, Kell Brook and Manny Pacquiao touted as opponents.

Following UKAD’s announcement, Benn said on Twitter: “I remain free to fight in events that are not sanctioned by the BBBoC.”

In February the WBC accepted there was “no conclusive evidence that Benn engaged in intentional or knowing ingestion” of clomifene, banned in and out of competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

A “highly elevated consumption of eggs” was considered a “reasonable explanation” although Benn disputed the claim after his team submitted its findings to the sanctioning body and which have now also been passed on to UKAD.

Hearn added: “The document and the report has been shared with UKAD, which is a positive thing. He (Benn) has shared it with WBC who have cleared him and reinstated him in the rankings.

“Now he has to go through the UKAD situation, and who knows how long it’s going to take?”

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