Boxing board won’t sanction Tyson Fury’s return until doping case is heard

Morecambes former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, right, recently spent time training in Marbella with Billy Joe Saunders.
Morecambes former world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, right, recently spent time training in Marbella with Billy Joe Saunders.

The British Boxing Board of Control has flattened Tyson Fury’s hopes of a quick return to the ring by confirming it will not lift his suspension until his doping case is resolved.

The 28-year-old lost his boxing licence last October, a day after he vacated his IBO, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles citing depression.

However, the Morecambe fighter had already failed a drugs test in the United States for cocaine and been charged with the use of a prohibited substance by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).

With Fury now back in training, UKAD is his most serious opponent, as his National Anti-Doping Panel was postponed earlier this month due to an apparent conflict of interests, with no date set for its resumption.

In theory, the BBBoC could lift his suspension at any time, but it is now clear it will not act until Fury has either been cleared by UKAD or served whatever ban he may receive from the panel.

BBBoC general secretary Robert Smith said: “The BBBoC is awaiting the outcome of the UKAD hearing and at present his boxing licence is suspended until such time, after which the BBBoC will consider Mr Fury’s position further.”

The frustration felt by Fury’s camp is understandable, given the fact he has not fought since his famous win over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015.

This is a hugely significant case for UKAD, which has a new chairman in Trevor Pearce, the former director of special investigations at the National Crime Agency, and has been lobbying government for more money and extra powers.

Fury and his cousin Hughie, another leading British heavyweight, have been on the agency’s radar since traces of nandrolone, an anabolic steroid, were detected in their urine samples in February 2015.

Both men have strongly denied any wrongdoing and they were not charged with an anti-doping offence until June 24, 2016, the same day Tyson Fury postponed a rematch with Klitschko because of a sprained ankle.

The Morecambe giant’s position is complicated by something Warren has only recently revealed - the boxer refused to give a sample last year, swearing at a doping official.

Under World Anti-Doping Agency rules, refusing a test is considered the same as a failed test and the starting point for punishing a first-time, intentional offence is a four-year ban.

Fury’s mental state at the time is a mitigating factor, as is his uncle Peter Fury’s attempt to bring the tester back and the uncertainty around those 2015 tests.

It all means any hopes Fury had of fighting on the Billy Joe Saunders-Avtandil Khurtsidze undercard in London on July can be forgotten.

A more realistic target for his return could be the beginning of next year.