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  • Writer's pictureLiliana Ulloa

WBO Middleweight World Champion Billy Joe Saunders Tests Positive for Banned Substance

**UPDATED: 3:08 PM

This morning, multiple sources told ESPN WBO Middleweight World Champion Billy Joe Saunders had failed a random Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) drug test, testing positive for the banned substance oxilofrine.

VADA had recently welcomed Saunders to their program in preparation for his upcoming title defense against southpaw middleweight Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade; however, the bout scheduled for Oct. 20 in Boston, Massachusetts is likely to be canceled due to Saunders’ positive test results. Saunders also faces the possibility of being stripped by the WBO from the title and their ranking based on their rules and regulations regarding banned substances.


With the cancellation of the WBO middleweight bout, both Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) and Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) would continue their inactivity, since both have yet to face an opponent in 2018. Should the WBO strip Saunders of his belt, it would stir up the middleweight division, as it would leave a belt up for grabs in a weight class stacked with talent.

The WBO’s current middleweight rankings leave a possibility for exciting, marketable matchups amongst their top five contenders, leading to the possible crowning of a new middleweight champion. Being the WBO’s No. 1 contender, Andrade is most likely to keep his spot for a title shot, and as we recall, Andrade volunteered to become former unified middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin’s opponent replacement when Golovkin’s rematch with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez had been canceled also because of a failed drug test from Alvarez.

Andrade’s shot at Golovkin could now become a reality since Golovkin recently lost all his tiles; The IBF stripped the Khazak middleweight for not making a defense against his mandatory contender following the Alvarez rematch cancelation, and then lost the WBC, WBA, and RingTV world titles to Alvarez on Sept. 15. However, Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler said Golovkin would not return to the ring until 2019, which leaves a small possibility for this bout to take place should the WBO title become vacant.

Golden Boy Promotions claims Alvarez wishes to return to the ring on Dec. 5, which would create a perfect situation for Andrade to not only get a shot at the WBO title but also become the new unified middleweight champion should he arise victorious against the red-headed Mexican champion. A Dec. 5 date would also assure Andrade a 2018 bout without acquiring more ring rust and letting his training camp go to waste.

David Lemieux ranked as No. 5 in the WBO middleweight ranking, would also make a challenging opponent for Andrade and possessed the flexibility to fight again before the end of the year since he scored a tremendous one-round knockout against Irish middleweight Spike O’ Sullivan.

Ironically, Saunders was one of Alvarez’s biggest critics following his positive clenbuterol VADA test back in February, continually posting tweets and Instagram posts bashing Alvarez and calling him a “cheat.”

Twitter: @bjsaunders_

As was the case following Alvarez’s positive test results for banned substances, angry fans and trolls have taken matters into their hands by commenting insults on Saunders’ posts, along with needle and pill emojis. ” 💊💉💊💉💊” and similar emojis currently flood Saunders’ social media timelines.

Though the fans can sit and matchmake a WBO title fight with different explosive fight possibilities, patience is key as the WBO has yet to state the matter. Matchroom Boxing and Promoter Eddie Hearn have yet to make a statement on the matter as well, leaving Saunders to be the only one who’s been active on social media since ESPN revealed his positive test results.

In a short tweet, Saunders simply said, “Some shit.”

The use of emojis shows Saunder’s possible lack of guilt and expresses his lack of seriousness in the matter that may strip him of his world title. However, as most boxing fans know by now, that is typical Billy Joe Saunders.

** The Massachusetts Athletic Commission will meet Oct. 8 to decide if the fight will be canceled.

“Billy Joe will apply for a license in Massachusetts and they will make the decision if he is allowed to box,” Hearn told ESPN. “The most important thing is that Demetrius Andrade fights for the world title on Oct. 20. If Billy Joe Saunders is ruled out and stripped of the title, we will be looking to make a fight for the vacant world title.”

Saunders will not be punished by the British Boxing Board of Control because the banned substance found in Saunders is only banned if used in competition and not in training.

Saunder’s official statement was posted on (

The statement claims the banned substance was accidentally decongestant ingested via nasal spray.

“Following reports of an adverse analytical finding in a test carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (“VADA”) on WBO World Middleweight Champion, Billy Joe Saunders, we can confirm that the product concerned is permitted to be used ‘Out of Competition’ by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (“UKAD”) in line with the regulations of the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”). For the avoidance of doubt, the product in question was a common decongestant nasal spray. The British Boxing Board of Control (“BBBofC”) under whose jurisdiction Billy Joe Saunders is licensed are affiliated only to UKAD/WADA. Today the BBBofC have confirmed that Mr Saunders is not in breach of BBBofC or UKAD anti doping regulations and is therefore in good standing and is licensed to box and defend his World Title on October 20th. Mr. Saunders has been tested a number of times in 2018, all negative, his last out of competition test by UKAD was on 24th September 2018.”

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