Rey Vargas and Julio Cesar Martinez are free to continue with their respective boxing careers.
The pair of Mexico-based boxers tested positive for Clenbuterol, through testing recently conducted by the World Boxing Council Clean Boxing Program (WBC CBP). However, no action was taken against either athlete since the findings were trace elements of the banned substance deemed in the tolerable threshold due to the ongoing meat contamination epidemic in Mexico.
Testing for the program is conducted by Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA), whose company’s standards generally carry a zero-tolerance limit in terms of positive drug test results. However, the Las Vegas-based organization doesn’t have the authority to suspend athletes, rather merely report said results to the governing body by which its services are contracted.
In a statement, the WBC noted that “there was no… deliberate intent to take Clenbuterol and the amounts found in the tests are not sufficient to register any performance enhancing benefit” on the part of either boxer.
Vargas (34-0, 22KOs) doesn’t presently have a fight scheduled, nor is in serious negotiations for his next outing. The reigning junior featherweight titlist—who turns 29 later this month—has made five successful defenses since a Feb. 2017 title win over Gavin McDonnell. The Otumba, Mexico native most recently scored a 12-round win over Tomoki Kameda in a mandatory title defense this past July in Carson, California. He is free to enter a voluntary defense—whether a title unification or against any random contender within the WBC Top 15—for his next contest.
The test results were far more significant to the immediate future of Martinez (14-1, 11KOs), who is due to fight for the vacant WBC flyweight title in his next outing. The 24-year old from Mexico City is due to next face former titlist Cristofer Rosales. Their vacant title fight comes on the heels of Charlie Edwards relinquishing his title in lieu of a rematch with Martinez, with whom he fought to a three-round No-Contest this past August.
Martinez was initially ruled a knockout winner and of the belief that he wrested the title from Wales’ Edwards, only to be informed in the ring by Mauricio Sulaiman, longtime president of the WBC that the verdict was going to be overturned. The controversy came when Martinez dropped Edwards midway through round three, but then struck the defending titlist while on the canvas. The infraction went unnoticed by referee Mark Lyson, but was accurately detected through instant replay utilized at ringside.
An immediate rematch was ordered, only for Edwards (15-1) to decide that he was done with the flyweight division, a move he was planning even before his title defense as he will now compete in the junior bantamweight division. A tentative working date of Dec. 13 is in place for the contest, according to a review of the ratings portion of the WBC Annual Convention this past October.
Despite both Vargas and Martinez avoiding formal discipline from the sanctioning body, they are now required to attend educational and nutritional seminars “and have accepted to become Clean Boxing Program ambassadors in their respective gyms.”
Similar findings have surfaced in past testing samples submitted by three-division titlist Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and former 130-pound title claimant Francisco ‘Bandido’ Vargas. Alvarez was famously issued a six-month suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) stemming from two positive drug test results produced last February. The suspension delayed his planned rematch with Gennadiy Golovkin, who at the time was still without an ‘I” in his first name but with middleweight titles in tow.
Alvarez was permitted to return in time to reschedule their rematch, scoring a 12-round win to claim the belts and defend his World middleweight championship last September in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As for Francisco Vargas—no relation to May—a scheduled June 2016 title defense versus Orlando Salido went on as scheduled, though not before having to appear before the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC). Vargas and his team plead their case in attributing the adverse finding to having enjoyed his mother’s homemade carne de jugo (beef stew) prior to heading to California for training camp.
The June 2016 clash was permitted to continue, on the condition that Vargas subject himself to random drug testing as conducted by CSAC. The commission reported at the time that he was among the most tested combat sports athletes in state history.
Martinez and Rey Vargas are both enrolled in CBP through Oct. 2020. All WBC titlists and Top 15 contenders are required to be enrolled in the program, which randomly tests boxers through a pool selection.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox