By Keith Idec
James DeGale was not the least bit surprised when Lucian Bute failed a test for a performance-enhancing drug taken around the time of his fight against Badou Jack.
DeGale, who’ll box Jack in a super middleweight championship unification fight January 14 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center (Showtime), told BoxingScene.com he suspects Bute took a PED prior to their November 2015 bout in Quebec City, Canada. London’s DeGale beat Bute by unanimous decision in that 12-round fight for DeGale’s IBF super middleweight championship.
“After my fight in Canada, when I beat him, I said, ‘He’s on something,’ ” DeGale said. “Because his strength and conditioning coach was – I forgot his name. Heredia or something. So that’s a bit dodgy. And then after the fight, I said, ‘He’s on something.’ Because the way he finished the fight, the shots he took in that fight were unbelievable. And then obviously he boxed Badou Jack and it came out he was on something. So if I’m being honest, I wasn’t really surprised.”
The strength and conditioning coach to whom DeGale referred is Angel “Memo” Heredia, a controversial figure in boxing due to his history of using and supplying PEDs in the world of track and field. Heredia – who has helped prepare Jorge Arce, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Juan Manuel Marquez, Jean Pascal and Brandon Rios for fights – worked with Canada’s Bute before the DeGale and Jack fights.
Bute tested positive for traces of the banned substance Ostarine, which can produce similar effects to anabolic steroids, in both his ‘A’ and ‘B’ samples from a test taken around the time of his majority draw with Jack on April 30 in Washington, D.C. The Romanian-born Bute blamed the positive test on the supplement Dynamita, denied that he knowingly used any banned substances and hired an attorney to help him determine how a “contaminated” substance wound up in his system.
DeGale later suspected that the opponent he fought after Bute, Mexico’s Rogelio Medina, benefitted from performance enhancers. Heredia also worked with Medina (37-7, 31 KOs) prior to his unanimous-decision defeat to DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs) on the same card that included the bout between Sweden’s Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs), the WBC world super middleweight champion, and Bute (32-3-1, 25 KOs).
“My last fight against Medina, he was getting trained by Heredia as well,” DeGale said. “And you see the kind of shots he took in that fight, and you see what kind of shape he was in. I know he had a good eight weeks [to train], but it’s just a little bit dodgy.”
DeGale and Jack have undergone intense PED testing prior to their fight by the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) and London-based UK Anti-Doping.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.