By World Boxing Association
On September 25, 2017, the WBA Championships Committee issued Resolution No. 20170915117 clarifying the Heavyweight Division in light of Vladimir Klitschko’s retirement, and authorized Super Champion, Anthony Joshua (“Joshua”), to face the IBF’s mandatory, Kubrat Pulev (“Pulev”), before facing the WBA mandatory, Luis Ortiz (“Ortiz”). Joshua objected to Ortiz’s status as the mandatory based on the negotiations, and subsequent announcement that Ortiz would be fighting the WBC Champion, Deontay Wilder (“Wilder”), for the WBC Championship.
II. ORTIZ’S SECOND POSITIVE TEST FOR PROHIBITED SUBSTANCES
During the WBA’s consideration of Joshua’s objection to the September 25, 2017 Resolution, the WBC reported that Ortiz tested positive for prohibited substances Chlorothaizide and Hydrochlorathiazide during voluntary testing with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (“VADA”). Chlorothaizide and Hydrochlorathiazide are diuretics and potential masking agents.
Such a positive test violates WBA Rules and follows Ortiz’s positive test for steroids in September of 2014. Ortiz’s suspension for the steroid violation ended May 11, 2015.
After providing Ortiz notice of the positive test and an opportunity to explain and comment before the WBA made a decision on the matter, Ortiz confirmed that he knew he was taking prescription medication for health reasons, specifically for high blood pressure/hypertension, and had been doing so since September 2016. However, Ortiz did not disclose to his testers that he was taking prescription drugs, never requested a Therapeutic Use Exemption (“TUE”) prior to the positive test, and provided no evidence that he previously disclosed use of such substances in any prior bout. Instead, Ortiz now requests that he not be sanctioned because the substance was for therapeutic use.
When Ortiz’s justification was presented to VADA, VADA explained the following: Mr. Ortiz's test was performed under the WBC's Clean Boxing Program (CBP), which is administered by VADA. In other words, the applicable "rules" are the WBC-CBP Policy on TUE's, not VADA's (although the policies are very similar).
Sections 6 and 7 of the CBP's TUE Policy read as follows:
6. An application for a TUE will not be considered for retroactive approval except in extremely rare cases where:
a. emergency treatment or treatment of an acute medical condition was necessary, or
b. due to exceptional circumstances, there was insufficient time or opportunity for an applicant to submit, or the CBP to consider, an application prior to doping control.
7. The Athlete MUST inform the CBP as soon as possible by fax or email if one of these circumstances occur. A TUE will not be considered for retroactive appeal if there is a failure to timely inform the CBP of the exceptional circumstances."
Despite multiple opportunities to do so, Mr. Ortiz never declared that he was using a banned substance, nor sought a TUE prior to the test. Retroactive therapeutic use exemptions are only granted in the rare circumstances enumerated above, which is in line with other anti-doping programs worldwide. This is important in anti-doping, as allowing for retroactive TUE's would provide athletes a way to game the system by seeing whether or not they test positive and only alert the testing authority about a banned substance they've been knowingly taking if they test positive.
As a result of the positive test, Ortiz’s scheduled bout with Wilder for the WBC Championship was cancelled.
A. Boxers, their representatives, and promoters are obligated to “know and be familiar with all Associations rules.” WBA Rule C.14.
B. The WBA Ratings Committee and Chairman have sole discretion in ranking boxers and may consult and consider WBA ratings guidelines, ring performance, regional titles, bout activity or inactivity, failure to participate in WBA bouts and any other factor the Committee deems relevant. WBA Rule B.5-8.
C. No boxer who has tested positive for a prohibited substance can be rated, or be permitted to participate in a sanctioned bout for no less than six (6) months from the date of the positive test. WBA Rule C.45.
D. The WBA rules and medical guidelines adopt the prohibited substances list as identified by the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”), WBA Rule E. 24. The IOC has adopted the prohibited list published by WADA. Chlorothaizide and Hydrochlorathiazide are prohibited substances.
E. The Ratings Committee may demote or remove a boxer from the ratings for failure to comply with WBA Rules and for positive prohibited substances tests. WBA Rule B.6.
F. WBA Rule C.27 states:
Title Vacation and/or Removal of Recognition. A boxer’s title, status, or recognition may be lost, removed, or vacated for any of the following reasons:
a. Loss in a bout (see Rule C.15);
b. Violation of Association rules; or
c. Suspension, charges, or criminal conduct alleged or found by a national, state, or provincial agency.
As a result of Ortiz’s second positive test for a prohibited substance in a period of three (3) years, the Championship Committee orders as follows:
1. Ortiz’ status and recognition as mandatory contender is revoked. Ortiz is removed from the WBA ratings and suspended from participation in any WBA sanctioned bouts for one (1) year (until September 22, 2018). After March 22, 2018, Ortiz may request his suspension be lifted, which may only be granted in the sole discretion of the WBA. For the suspension to be lifted, Ortiz must continue to fully participate in the VADA Clean Boxing Program at his expense, shall not otherwise test positive for any prohibited substance or refuse to be randomly tested, and must undergo an independent medical evaluation to determine whether he is medically fit to fight.