Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight rematch against Dillian Whyte next Saturday, 12 August, at London’s O2 Arena has been cancelled after Whyte returned an ‘adverse finding’ to a random doping test.
It is understood promoters Matchroom hope to find a new opponent to face Joshua at the same venue on the same date. Another option is elevating one of the heavyweights on the undercard to a main event slot.
The future looks much less clear for Whyte, 35, following this episode, his third run-in with anti-doping authorities. In a statement he said he was ‘shocked and devastated’ by the positive test and vowed to ‘prove that I am completely innocent.’
Whyte served a two-year ban after testing positive for the banned stimulant Methylhexanamine following a win over Hungary’s Sandor Balogh in October 2012.
In 2019, he was charged by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) after a sample provided in June that year showed the presence of two metabolites of a banned steroid, Dianabol. The charge was later withdrawn due to the ‘extremely low’ levels of the metabolites.
Dillian Whyte returned ‘adverse analytical findings’ in a pre-fight Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) drug test
Anthony Joshua vs Whyte II has been cancelled but Mail Sport understands Matchroom Boxing are looking at bringing in a new opponent for AJ
The most recent test was performed by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), who informed Matchroom about the positive result for a banned substance, the identity of which which was not initially made public.
‘The Voluntary Anti-Doping Association informed Matchroom, the Association of Boxing Commissions and the British Boxing Board of Control that Dillian Whyte had returned adverse analytical findings as part of a random anti-doping protocol,’ Matchroom said yesterday [SAT] in a statement.
‘In light of this news, the fight will be cancelled, and a full investigation will be conducted. Further information on the event will follow.’
Next weekend’s fight between 2012 Olympic super-heavyweight champion Joshua, 33, and Whyte, was set to be a rematch of their 2015 bout, a British title bout won by Joshua via a seventh round stoppage.
That was the first loss of Whyte’s professional career after 16 straight wins. The pair had previously fought as amateurs in 2009, Whyte winning on points to kickstart a long and bitter rivalry.
Joshua, currently ranked as the world’s fourth-best active heavyweight by The Ring magazine, had been planning to face Whyte (ranked sixth) before taking on the USA’s Deontay Wilder, ranked third, then fellow Briton Tyson Fury, second, ranked only behind Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk.
The winner of Joshua and Whyte, had it unfolded as planned, was in line for a potential fight against Wilder in a bout envisaged to take place in the Middle East later this year. Joshua may yet face Wilder in Saudi Arabia.
It is possible if not yet certain that Whyte will now face an anti-doping charge. VADA is an independent testing body, not a sanctioning body, describing itself as a ‘an organisation that will offer and promote effective anti-doping practices and programs in boxing and mixed martial arts.’
A statement released by VADA revealed that a ‘full investigation’ would be taking place
The winner of Joshua and Whyte was in line for a potential fight against Deontay Wilder (above)
VADA’s mission statement is to promote clean sport in boxing, where it says ‘testing is not comprehensive, rarely unannounced and not a deterrent. Sports regulators do not have the man-power, time and funds to thoroughly carry out the task.’
Whyte’s latest infringement will now be considered by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC), which has anti-doping rules consistent with the world anti-doping code, and by UKAD, although arguments are sure to rumble about who has jurisdiction over a test administered by VADA.
Back in 2012, Whyte initially appealed against his two-year ban for ingesting Methylhexanamine on the grounds he had done so unknowingly. The independent national anti-doping tribunal accepted that claim but the appeal was rejected anyway on the grounds Whyte had not taken sufficient care to check the ingredients of a supplement he had been using.
He had been using an over-the-counter supplement, Jack3d, and had sought neither professional or medical advice to check on its safety. His ban was upheld on the grounds that he had ‘failed to discharge the burden of establishing that he was not significantly at fault.’
Whyte’s 2019 ‘doping’ episode started when he tested positive for epimethandienone and hydroxymethandienone – both metabolites of Dianabol – ahead of his July fight with Oscar Rivas in London. The BBBoC were told by UKAD about the result before the bout, but it went ahead anyway without his opponent being notified about the positive test.
Unknown to the public, UKAD charged Whyte with an anti-doping violation and ‘initiated an investigation with which Mr Whyte cooperated fully.’ The upshot of his probe was that the charge was withdrawn, not because the test had been wrong but because the levels of the metabolites were ‘extremely low’ and ‘consistent with an isolated contamination event, and not suggestive of doping.’
Whyte claimed that he was ‘shocked and devastated’ by the findings reported by VADA
Whyte’s statement yesterday said: ‘I can confirm without a shadow of doubt that I have not taken the reported substance, in this camp or at any point in my life.
‘I am completely innocent and ask to be given the time to go through the process of proving this without anybody jumping to conclusions or a trial by media.
‘I insisted on 24/7 VADA testing for this fight, as I have done voluntarily and at my own expense for all of my fights for many, many years.
‘This is not the first time that I have been reported as having an adverse finding for a substance which I have not taken, and as I did last time I will again prove that I am completely innocent.
‘In the meantime all I can do is express my extreme disappointment to boxing fans, who will miss out on what was sure to be a great event.’