By Keith Idec
Deontay Wilder won what he believes will be a landmark case for combatting performance-enhancing drugs in boxing.
A jury in a Manhattan federal court ruled in Wilder’s favor Monday in his civil case against Alexander Povetkin. Wilder sought $5 million in damages when he filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Russia’s Povetkin, whose positive PED test caused the cancelation of their May 21 fight in Moscow, and his promoter Andrey Ryabinsky eight months ago.
If an appeal fails, Wilder will be well-compensated for his time and aggravation. Wilder wants more than that, though.
The unbeaten WBC heavyweight champion believes boxing is in dire need of stronger punishment for PED cheats. Otherwise, Wilder (37-0, 36 KOs) can’t envision the sport’s PED epidemic ending at any point in the foreseeable future.
“It’s sad for the sport,” Wilder said during a conference call Thursday. “And I just hope something even more is done about this situation before it ruins the sport of boxing. I think the WBC is doing a fabulous job in bringing the doping program, and having these fighters sign up for it, and if they don’t they’re out of the rankings. But I also would like to see it go into second gear. I wanna see some punishment done. I wanna see if you do this, if you put steroids or anything that has your body to do what it’s not naturally supposed to do, I think you not only should get suspended, but maybe indefinitely. Or a fine – something.
“This case right here was the first step to let all these other fighters know that there’s consequences behind your actions that will be applied to you, if you decide to use. But there needs to be something else even more deeper than taking this money. They need to take their careers away from them, because this is ridiculous.”
The ridiculousness continued for Wilder last month, when a second straight opponent, Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk, failed a pre-fight PED test. Wawrzyk tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.
Former USC football player Gerald Washington (18-0-1, 12 KOs) replaced Wawrzyk as Wilder’s opponent for a February 25 fight at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama (FOX). Unlike Povetkin (31-1, 23 KOs) and Wawrzyk (33-1, 19 KOs), Washington and Wilder have passed tests administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) as part of the WBC Clean Boxing Program.
“I always use myself as an example,” Wilder said. “I’m naturally strong. Without weights, without training, anything, I’m God-given, Alabama-country strong. I’ve always been that way. But just imagine I used anything to enhance my body. Did you see my last fight with [Artur] Szpilka? Just imagine if I had something in my body. The man woulda been dead, because I already thought he was dead. It’s just sad. There’s a lot of these guys doing it. I know some of them that’s still doing it, because I’ve already got wind of it. But that’s gonna be up to them to get right, to get they act right, because when they come in this fight business nobody’s playing around, man.
“It’s just ridiculous. It’s just sad. Hopefully it just gets cleaned up. Everybody get clean. That way we can continue on with this great sport of boxing and people can get the fights that they wanna see. I just hate to see that we have such great fighters out here, and some of the fights aren’t gonna happen because they wanna use. Just like Povetkin and me. I was looking forward to that fight. I was looking forward to going to Russia, defending my country, the United States against Russia. What better country to defend your country against than with Russia? I was looking forward to that, but I couldn’t do it because of somebody’s actions. Before they mess up this sport, they need to clean it up.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.