By Jake Donovan
A 1st round knockout over Lateef Kayode initially served as the biggest win of Luis Ortiz’ career. It now no longer appears on his résumé.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission handed down a suspension and fine to Oritz for failing a drug testing following the aforementioned September 11 bout at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Ortiz tested positive for Nandrolone—discovered in both his “A” and “B” sample—and was unsuccessful in two subsequent attempts to have the case dismissed, including his taking a beating at last month’s NSAC agenda hearing.
As a result, his win over Kayode will now be ruled a no-contest.
Ortiz’ legal representatives waived the right for a disciplinary hearing. They did, however, plead on his behalf for leniency given it was his first offense, suggesting that “Mr. Ortiz is a clean fighter… we do have an issue with his age and his previous good record.”
The concern now in the Cuban’s career is—coming up on his 36th birthday in March—the minimal window remaining to make an impact in a heavyweight division that has finally once again become interesting. The previously ruled knockout netted Ortiz an interim title, which would have put him in line to eventually face either World heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko or secondary titlist Ruslan Chagaev.
“There is no good reason for his testing positive for Nandrolone, other than his consumption of horse meat,” Ortiz’ legal team claimed, reminiscent of Erik Morales’ alibi after repeatedly testing positive for banned substances prior to his rematch loss to Danny Garcia in Oct. ’12. “We have not gotten to the bottom of it and choose to just move forward with his career. He’s embarrassed and apologetic. He’s never tested positive before, and has never used drugs or banned substances before.”
The boxer himself reiterated this assertion when addressing the five-member panel.
“In 319 amateur fights, I’ve never tested positive for banned substances,” noted Ortiz, a former amateur standout in his native Cuba. “I don’t even know what (Nandrolone) is. All I know is that sacrifice is a reward and that I’ve always trained hard to accomplish my dream.
“The reason I came to this country was for a better life for my daughter. She has an ailment that has no cure. This is all I know how to do, to fight in the ring and for my family. Ever since I left Cuba, I left everything behind to become heavyweight champion of the world. I now leave my career in your hands; I put my faith in this group before me.”
The group expressed sympathy for his cause, appearing at one point to be on the verge of granting him leniency.
However, the commission ultimately handed down an eight-month suspension, although it begins from the date of the fight. With the suspension, Ortiz will be banned from participation from combat sports of any kind—including gym sparring sessions—until May 12, 2015, at which time he will be required to provide the Nevada commission with a clean drug test if and when he chooses to appear before the panel to be relicensed in the future.
Given the ruling, the World Boxing Association (WBA) will likely strip Ortiz of the interim heavyweight title and order a vacant title fight.
The September 11 bout initially resulted in Kayode’s first loss as a pro, but keeps his unbeaten record intact with the no-contest. It marks the second time in the span of four fights in which his opponent has tested positive for a banned substance. Kayode fought Antonio Tarver to a disputed 12-round draw in their June ’12 cruiserweight clash, only for the decision to be nullified after Tarver’s post-fight urinalysis came back dirty.
In addition to the suspension, Ortiz was also fined 10% ($8,000) of the $80,000 purse he earned for the bout. He has also been asked to perform 15 hours of community service and undergo future monitored drug testing, as to confirm that the instance was a one-time occurrence.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox