By Alexey Sukachev (on hand) and Evgueny Solodov (photo)
A huge presser has been called this afternoon at “Komsomolskaya Pravda” media center in Moscow, Russia, by several well-known boxing personalities to inform reporters about a possibility of the collision between unified WBO/IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko (54-3, 48 KOs) and IBF mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin (19-0, 14 KOs) and the corresponding activities. Addressing media men were Povetkin’s manager Vladimir Hryunov, Sauerland Event managing director Christian Meyer, director of “Anti-Doping Center” (Russian anti-doping laboratory) Grigory Rodchenkov, former amateur legend Victor Petrovich Ageev, who is now serving as the president of the Professional Boxing Federation of Russia (PBFR), and PBFR’s vice-president and a former amateur standout himself Yuri Alexandrov. Povetkin, who struggles with the recent passing of his beloved father Vladimir, wasn’t presented.
Those, who know Russian, can listen and watch the presser on the official portal of “Soviet Sport” daily (a renowned Russian newspaper), which was the organizer of the event, here .
The main part
Vladimir Hryunov was the first one to take a spot. “I’m glad to meet so many journalists here at this beautiful hall. I see a number of reporters not only from Russia but also from the foreign countries, which once again underlines an importance of the upcoming battle between The Champion and The Challenger.”
“We have gathered you today to voice one of our wishes for Team Klitschko, whom we respect cordially. Once again I want to point out that this is a wish and surely not a demand. We address the following words to the honoured master of sports and fellow Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist about the event, which is being one of the most anticipated match-ups worldwide in the recent history of boxing’s glamour division.
A hard and nervous stage of negotiations is ahead of our camps. But one question exists, which should be resolved positively for the benefit of the sport and for the future of boxing. I’m talking about the centralized and effective system of anti-doping tests.
This question was long discussed by the international boxing community and it’s time to draw a line and to start a new, clean page in the history of our sport without performance-enhancing drugs. And we can do it – with the support of Team Klitschko, of course. We ask Wladimir to aid us and to agree on such set of anti-doping procedures for the fight between him and Alexander, which will follow the Code of WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). It’s time to make a leap forward and to open a new era in pugilism. I wish that idols of our youth will break up the old rules to make something new and worthy”.
Chris Meyer talked more about ongoing and future negotiations with Team Klitschko and the possibility of the fight.
“Sauerland event has a long history of arranging and promoting the best fights and fighters in the world. For over thirty years our company has been making champions and growing new breeds of boxing stars and we have been doing that cleanly. One of our primary goals is to retain the integrity and honour of the sport by following the strictest standards of drug testing. For several years we have been applying full-fledged drug testing for world title match-ups. Moreover, for already three years we have been testing our boxers for illegal substances not only after their fights but also during their preparations, since the very point they start getting ready for a bout. We want the same for both participants of the battle we are discussing here right now. Both Wladimir and Alexander will constitute a wonderful example for young kids, for the next generation of pugilists and their devoted followers and for competing boxers as well. This clash will surely draw a major attention and that’s exactly why we are calling for testing”.
“As for the negotiations the situation is as follows. We have been given time up until May 17th by the respective International Boxing Federation to start a conversation with Wladimir Klitschko and his representatives. We shall have 30 days to reach an agreement with the opposing camp and, if no agreement is reached, a specific purse bid will be conducted at the IBF headquarters in 1-3 weeks after the deadline to determine the organizing party. Sauerland Event and Team Povetkin are currently in intense negotiations with various Russian sponsors and investors, who can support our bid. As for Klitschko’s fight against David Haye, I find that chances for this collision are negligible right now. This battle can transform into reality not earlier than the beginning of 2011”.
Grigory Rodchenkov was on hand to emphasize the necessity of new anti-doping standards in world boxing. “Surely, I’m for an extensive system of drug-testing procedures in every sportive competition. Here I have the Code of WADA published in Russian where a full set of anti-doping procedures is thoroughly described. It consists of three different parts: the drug testing standards for laboratories with international credentials, the List of banned substances and the Rules and Regulations for anti-doping procedures both during competitions and during the preparatory period. It’s not a secret that after-the-fight drug testing is by far incomplete and should be well supplemented by various sudden probes during preparations. And I’m talking not only about urine samples but also about the intensive blood biochemistry testing, HGH indication methods and, surely, various hemolytic tests to reveal hemotransfusion and corresponding violations. We need to accomplish this set of procedures to build up a bio-ID for every sportsman in future”.
“As for the upcoming fight we don’t demand much. We are dealing only with the initial steps in setting the world of boxing clean. We need to start random drug tests not later than two months before the fight; this is an alphabet of anti-doping procedures, its core – so, you see, we aren’t asking for much, just for the basics. We are talking about the future here, about the future of our kids. We surely don’t want them to harm themselves with doping. Parents must be sure that their children will play it safe and will play it clean”.
Yuri Alexandrov and Victor Ageev, “On behalf of the Professional Boxing Federation of Russia we want to express our unified opinion. We wish that both Wladimir and Alexander will perform all necessary tests to prove their purity and to further improve the image of boxing. Unfortunately, all major sanctioning bodies, especially those located in Latin America, are a bit slow in establishing new rules and regulations for a variety of reasons. At least, they need to approve innovations officially during their conventions and it surely takes some time. It’ll be difficult to implement WADA standards in a short span of time but the first step is due and the world of boxing will surely make it. It’s however fighters’ chance to step in and to aid boxing with their personal agreement on honest, full-scaled drug testing procedures”.
Questions from the audience
- Why does boxing need those WADA standards? Are boxing sanctioning and controlling bodies ready to implement new rules of the game?
Hryunov: “The question is ripe and the crisis is brewing. I’m not speaking about Klitschko-Povetkin showdown but about boxing in whole. Just look at Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather negotiations, which had got stuck over the drug testing details. What a shameful turn of events for a fight, which had been anticipated by millions of fans all around the world. It’s time to change the picture, not behind-the-scenes but openly: during presser and in mass media”.
Meyer: “Each boxing federation, every national committee has its own set of anti-doping regulations, which differ much from one sanctioning and controlling body to another. But it’s time to unify our efforts in making our sport clean. All officials must join in reaching the unified (and strict) standards of drug testing which exist in amateur boxing. And we are talking about pugilism. It’s a one thing using PEDs to become “the fastest” sprinter in the world and it’s another thing when by using drugs you endanger your opponent’s health and even his life. That shouldn’t happen”.
- Will any negotiations with Team Klitschko be continued if the latter isn’t ready to follow WADA Standards? What is the IBF’s opinion about this problem?
Hryunov: “I want to emphasize that we aren’t demanding anything; we are asking for partnership from Team Klitschko in resolving this difficult question. Firstly, we are challengers and Wladimir is a champion, so he has something to demand. Secondly, one can surely think that we doubt Wladimir’s cleanness and his integrity. Surely not! I’m sure as well as Alexander and Christian and every part of Sauerland Event that Wladimir isn’t taking anything illegal. Opposite is the non-sense. All what helps Wladimir in the preparations is his determination, his experience and the fresh mountain air of the camp, where he is getting ready for his fights”.
Meyer: “Our primary goal is to keep the world of boxing safe of bad, destructive moments such as doping. I’m sure that every boxing federation is willing the same. We are working with such controlling organizations which implement the highest standards of testing ever possible. That’s why we are here. And I’m ensured IBF will support us in our initiative”.
Hryunov: “Once again, I can’t even imagine (in wildest fantasies) that Wladimir Klitschko uses any PED’s. However, I need to tell you that our dearest desire is to hold this bout in Moscow. And we are talking about the social responsibility of two great fighters, about the social responsibility of the entire sport of boxing. Wladimir and Alexander should agree on WADA Standards (and Alexander has already done that) to besten the image of the sport. That’s the real reason for this polite request of our team. That’s not even a cornerstone. I’m sure Wladimir will support us in this point”.
Meyer: “Alexander agreed on every drug test possible both before and after the fight. He is ready to show his cleanness to world boxing society. We are sure that Klitschko is ready to do the same. If he is not then I just will not be able to find a word to describe it to Sasha if he asks me: “And what Wladimir has answered?” That’s why we kindly ask Wladimir to undergo all necessary procedures. We just want to be on even terms”.
- It’s not a secret that overseas professional leagues (MLB, NFL, NHL and others) are pretty much closed for WADA and use their own drug testing rules and regulations. What does WADA expect of various ABC’s of the boxing? Why will they support you?
Rodchenkov, “One point that Chris has told you is worth of strengthening. Boxing is a dangerous sport. Taking PED’s is like inserting the plaster of Paris or lead modules into your gloves – the effect is the same. That’s simply a felony and it shouldn’t be allowed. As for such leagues as MLB, let the God decide on them. If they want to continue to mangle their health, well, go on. We are walking another way”.
- There’s an opinion that Team Povetkin’s claims about the drug testing and the entire presser is just a precaution procedure, an excuse before a possible loss to the unified champion, so that you’ll have something to speak after the defeat. Can you comment on that? (Question from Ukrainian journalist)
Hryunov (with steel notes in his voice): “It’s hard to speak about it. It looks like we have huge language and/or sense differences. What do you mean by the “excuse”. For your information, every part of Team Povetkin and our respective promoters from Sauerland Event are working hard to bring fans this fascinating fight. We are fully confident in winning the fight. We don’t use any excuses. I cannot understand this question, this attitude. Losing is not an option”.
Meyer: “We are sure that Wladimir isn’t taking any PED’s. We just want to follow our rules and our mentality and to make everything possible for a clean fight. Just as it’ll be the case in the upcoming IBF middleweight championship between Sebastian Sylvester and another Russian fighter Roman Karmazin”.