Conor Benn is to be reinstated into the World Boxing Council’s rankings immediately as they found ‘no conclusive evidence’ of intentional ingestion regarding a failed doping test, believing a ‘highly-elevated consumption of eggs’ to be a reasonable explanation.
The undefeated welterweight’s career has been in limbo since October when Sportsmail broke the news of a failed drugs test. It was later revealed the the banned substance – Clomiphene – had also been found in a sample from earlier in the year, taking his tally to two.
The first test was administered as part of the WBC’s Clean Boxing programme by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency, and it’s understood that their investigation has looked at contamination as well as accidental ingestion. Benn provided a 270 page dossier he believed would prove no wrongdoing.
A statement from the organisation read as follows.
“Mr. Benn denied at all times the intentional or knowingly ingestion of any banned substances. His defense against the Adverse Finding centered on allegations of potential laboratory analysis failures and irregularities in connection with the analysis of his samples and of the results of the samples’ testing.
The WBC consulted several experts in anti-doping laboratory analysis, including an expert consultant with over 30 years of experience in WADA and IOC accredited laboratory settings. The WBC concluded that there was absolutely no fault attributable to the laboratory that analyzed Mr. Benn’s samples. Further, the WBC reaffirms the unquestionable integrity of VADA and the sample collection agencies and laboratories which services VADA uses in connection with the WBC CBP.”
Once the WBC cleared VADA’s involvement as standard and by the book, they invited Benn to a hearing and employed a nutritional expert.
In early February of 2023, Mr. Benn’s team for the first time provided a detailed breakdown of Mr. Benn’s diet and supplement consumption that could have directly affected the Adverse Finding.
The WBC availed itself of the services of an expert nutritionist. The WBC experts provided information about the characteristics of the substance at issue in this case and examples of similar adverse findings in several sports, under a diverse number of anti-doping programs.
The WBC Board of Governor’s ruling was based on: (1) the facts as known to the WBC at the time of the ruling; (2) any extenuating circumstances applicable to the specific case at hand; (3) WBC rulings in precedential anti-doping violation cases; (4) the unbiased, common-sensical and just analysis and recommendations of the WBC Results Management Unit; and (5) credible and reliable health-related and scientific literature.
Finally, the sanctioning body revealed its findings.
The WBC found that: (1) there was no conclusive evidence that Mr. Benn engaged in intentional or knowing ingestion of Clomiphene; (2) there were no failures in the procedures related to sample collection, sample analysis, or violations of Mr. Benn’s B Sample rights that would justify questioning or invalidating the Adverse Finding; and (3) Mr. Benn’s documented and highly-elevated consumption of eggs during the times relevant to the sample collection, raised a reasonable explanation for the Adverse Finding.
Whilst they confirm the failed test and explicitly rule out contamination, their focus is on the intention, or lack thereof, on Benn’s part. What’s now become known as ‘the egg theory’ has cleared his name in the eyes of the WBC. They will work with him to ‘design a nutrition program geared to avoid the risk of a future adverse finding.’
The verdict? He will be reinstated to their rankings with immediate effect.
The WBC shall include Mr. Benn in its ratings during the period immediately following the issuance of its ruling. Mr. Benn’s position in the WBC Ratings shall be based solely on his merit and the customary factors the WBC Ratings Committee apply to rating boxers.
The official ruling from the WBC’s investigation comes after months of Benn claiming innocence and demanding respect as a clean fighter. He will now be free to fight under their banner and compete for their titles, with that reintroduction to the rankings expected with the next official update.
Returning to the ring, though – despite plans from both fighter and promoter – still has a hurdle in the form of a British Boxing Board of Control case. This investigation – given that the BBBofC were responsible for prohibiting Benn’s fight with Chris Eubank Jr in the wake of the positive test news – is considered by many fans to hold more weight than that of the WBC’s.
Benn has been keen to point out that he didn’t fail tests with UKAD, the Board’s chosen anti doping agency. It’s understood they will proceed in their investigation with his VADA test results.
The BBBofC’s general secretary, Robert Smith, has said that this has been stalled due to a lack of cooperation on Benn’s part, and he won’t be granted a British boxing license until it’s said and done. This WBC verdict will reportedly have no bearing on their findings.
With this being the case, Benn must look elsewhere to be sanctioned to fight. At the time of relinquishing his license, he said that he may never fight under his home Board again, and recent comments from Smith suggested similar.