There wasn’t any feeling of relief, other than Avni Yildirim appreciating his being granted due process in the first place.
The super middleweight contender is back in the title mix after a drug testing scare from which was cleared in line with a full investigation conducted by the World Boxing Council (WBC). A sample collected on Sept. 13 by Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) showed an adverse finding of the banned substance Methylclostebol. The test was conducted through the WBC’s Clean Boxing Program (CBP), which randomly selects a handful of titlists and ranked fighters per month, regardless of whether they have a scheduled fight.
In lieu of having his “B” sample tested, the 28-year old boxer from Istanbul, Turkey and his team agreed to an immediate evaluation meeting with an expert scientist approved by the WBC to conduct an in-depth analysis. From there, came the discovery and confirmation from the sanctioning body that the substance in question was not ingested with the intent to cheat, instead where he “unintentionally and inadvertently became exposed to a substance as part of a muscular inflammation therapy he received in Germany.
“Credible evidence was presented that the source of the banned substance was a specific contaminated product that was administered to Mr. Yildirim.”
The news was of little surprise to the boxer and his team.
“I never had a doubt,” Ahmet Oner, Yildirim’s promoter told BoxingScene.com. “My guy never cheats, never had a drink. We knew he was clean and knew the WBC’s investigation would prove it.”
Because of VADA’s zero tolerance policy, however, Yildirim (21-2, 12KOs) is not entirely off the hook. He will have to pay a small fine, but the consolation prize is that his guaranteed title shot is kept alive. Yildirim has not fought since a technical decision defeat to Anthony Dirrell in February, with the disputed nature in which their title fight ended ultimately resulting in his being ensured first dibs at the winner of the Sept. 28 fight between Dirrell and David Benavidez (22-0, 19KOs).
The fight was won by Benavidez via 9th round stoppage, reclaiming the super middleweight title he was forced to vacate—fittingly enough—after his own drug testing folly. The unbeaten boxer tested positive for cocaine during a random test conducted last September. To his credit, the unbeaten Phoenix, Arizona native copped to it sans excuses, serving his suspension before returning to the ring in March.
Following his win over Dirrell, the 22-year old rising star was prepared to enter negotiations for a mandatory defense versus Yildirm. Those plans were placed on hold following the news of Yildirim’s drug test, which was reported to the WBC on Sept. 26 and released to the media one week later on Oct. 3.
With the investigation now complete, all parties involved can go about their business.
“I am very happy, finally it is on paper that I am a clean fighter,” Yildirim told BoxingScene.com. “I look forward to fighting for the title, and I am going to beat this boy good.”
The WBC is expected to soon formally order the mandatory title fight, which will mark a 30-day negotiation period between the respective camps of Benavidez and Yildirim. Failure to reach a deal within that time will result in the fight being subject to a purse bid hearing, which is open to all WBC-registered promoters.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox