The British boxing star tested positive for Oxilofrine in a VADA test
Billy Joe Saunders faces being stripped of his WBO middleweight world title belt after being denied a licence for his next fight against Demetrius Andrade.
The 29-year-old was scheduled to defend his title against Andrade on October 20 in Boston, however the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission have refused to sanction the bout after Saunders failed a voluntary drugs test.
On September 27 it emerged that the banned substance oxilofrine, a stimulant, was found in Saunders’ system by a VADA drugs test ahead of the bout.
There were then questions regarding whether the substance was only banned ‘in competition’ (on the day of the fight) and confusion grew regarding the different rules from different organisations.
His promoter Frank Warren claimed it was down to a nasal spray product that Saunders had used which is permitted “out of competition.”
However, Saunders’ fate was ultimately decided by the Massachusetts Commission on Tuesday, who opted to deny him a licence to box in the state.
It is expected that the October 20 show will go ahead as planned, with Andrade instead facing WBO #2 Walter Kautondokwa for the vacant interim title.
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WBO president Francisco Valcarcel says that the sanctioning body will now decide whether to strip Saunders of the belt, with the Briton given the chance to plead his case for why he should be able to retain it.
“It is unfortunate that a boxer as talented as Saunders is facing this controversy and will not be able to defend the title,” said Valcarcel.
“The WBO will examine the situation with due diligence and proceed according to its ‘Rules & Regulations’ decide which is the proper course of action.
If Saunders is stripped of the title, the winner of Andrade vs Kautondokwa will become the full WBO middleweight title-holder.
It is the latest setback for the 29-year-old in a year which has seen him yet to fight this year, having cancelled two scheduled meetings with Martin Murray.
In September, Saunders was fined £100,000 by the British Boxing Board of Contro and given a severe reprimand about his future conduct after video footage emerged of him appearing to offer a woman drugs.
His actions were filmed from his car and seemingly show him offering £150 worth of drugs to the woman to perform a sex act as well as asking her to punch a passer-by, which she does, before he drives off.